« You want an alternative to Heathrow, an elected Party Chairman, to go back to the seaside... | Main | Derek Draper's LabourList.org nears launch »


Thanks for this excellent summary, Tim. Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence of sound strategic thinking behind of all this. Hague has moved to the left on many issues and, based on the above, I would not like to see him as Foreign Secretary.

The biggest elephant in the room is, of course, the EU. Unfortunately, the impression one gets of the Cameron Conservatives is that they have a deep-seated need to be *liked* (this is the most important respect in which they resemble Blair). That, in turn, strongly suggest that on the EU we'll get more of the unimaginative same from a Conservative government. Lots of speeches about retaining British sovereignty and valiant attempts to prevent further transfer of power but no concrete steps whatsoever to REVERSE the massive transfers that have already (mostly, one must add, under Conservative governments) occurred.

We need to be braver and more honest with the electorate. It seems as though the 'Cameroons' only move just behind Public opinion, leaders help shape opinion. Leadership is about leading not following! In adverse times we need to give the electorate much more of an indication of what we would do, be not afraid the pendulum is turning! Generalising here, I hope Cameron is more of a 'Thatcher' than a 'Heath', (see Sir John Hoskyns recent comments in the Telegraph) because the country will need a former rather than a latter. Many people are simply not sure which he is!

A very useful 'tour d'horizon' but as Goldie points out: "The biggest elephant in the room is, of course, the EU".

I have considerable sympathy with robert's comments but would offer an alternative view for discussion - where the EU is concerned sepcifically - to his point:

"It seems as though the 'Cameroons' only move just behind Public opinion, leaders help shape opinion. Leadership is about leading not following!"

Why not follow public opinion on whether we stay in the EU, adopt associate membership (if that is feasible) or withdraw from it?

We were promised a referendum on the Lisbon constitution/treaty and clearly will not get it, so please would the conservatives promise to give us one on the above options?

Any government in Britain these days is elected by only about a third of the electorate, so a clear majority in a referendum would have much greater validity - and in this one case there would be a strong case for the elected government following the will of the nation, rather than leading it.

The Tories' attitude towards Israel has been cowardly in the extreme. It calls into question their ability to defend British citizens from such hostile outside elements.

A party that won't defend her citizens on moral technicalities does not deserve to be in Government.

Disappointing, especially on EU and M East, and agree with others comments above. Goldie puts it well. It is no use whatsoever making noises about “retaining” British sovereignty while doing NOTHING about REVERSING the massive transfer of sovereignty that has already taken place.

As for M East, I hoped we would be clear that we do not follow the BBC line of moral equivalence between terrorists and a democracy taking whatever steps are necessary to defend itself.

I too am disappointed by William Hague in this role. David Cameron has done the right thing in refocusing the party to show we are interested in more than financial profits etc and are concerned also about the environment, quality of life, public services, the health of society and so on, however I fear that on foreign policy Cameron may disappoint. Again as has been commented by others, perhaps too much following the lead of/seeking to please e.g. the BBC and other leftist media, rather than doing what’s right.

The world consists of more places than just America and Europe and I think that is one thing we need to learn.
I believe we should also engage with those who disagree with us and try to negotiate with them rather than bombing them.
Taking military action is not the only way to solve problems between peoples and defend the country`s welfare.
I also think that much more of an effort must be made to bring peace and greater wealth to Africa.
We need to engage and help that sad continent to help itself and fight the many terrible problems they have.

Unlike some of the commenters above I agree with most of Hague's statements (not on closing Guantanamo though)and think that on the whole his pronouncements have been sensible. Being the opposition foreign secretary is a difficult and thankless task as one would never willingly want to undermine the British government or damage British interests for electoral gain.
The key will be the EU of course. We are going to have to be far more explicit about our intensions the closer a general election comes. I doubt that mindless slogans 'In Europe not run buy Europe will suffice'.

The reason Cameron et al havent concentrated foreign policy efforts on Europe is that the Tory position is pretty clear already, or perhaps grassroots want another round of the EU bashabout, an utter waste of time. Its essential that in terms of foreign policy that they make clear what they view Britains role in the world at the moment. We arent a superpower but surely Britain can be a vehicle. The current EU position has been made many times in recent months, most recently after Barrosso kicked it up at Christmas. Theres no point in another round of talking about it.

Ive always found it off-putting that the Conservative default position is to defend Israel above all others in the Middle East (theres obviously a lot of history I dont know but thats the case for many issues). Such a position is supported by one of Camerons first actions as Leader of giving support to the Conservative Friends of Israel. If Israel has acted inappropriately (and in this conflict I believe they have) then its absolutely right that the Conservatives say so. Im pleased to see a thawing in the Tories dislike of working with Israel's 'enemies'. It is a hard road but thats the point.

Adam and Phillip are quite right. I am just about to start my morning paper, which will probably detail the violence at yesterday's Arabist demonstration whereas alJabeeba etc will not.

Tha man (or woman) on the doorstep could quite legitmately ask "So which party did you say you where from?"

There really does not seem to be an obvious and coherent conservative thread running through any of this, it is all rather piecemeal and headline chasing rather than thought through and plainly in Britain's best interests.

I think that Mr Angry @13.21 has hit the nail on the head. I read Tim`s excellent summary and kept asking myself "...but why?.."
I know I go on about this one single issue ad nauseam, but where in all this does Britain`s national interest lie?
We need to identify what our aims are. If they are as simple as "Peace and Prosperity for All" (and I`m not saying that they necessarily should be) then we must decide how we will achieve these goals.
It is unfeasible for us to aspire to Peace outside alliances. The cost is too great. We must therefore make sure we find allies with similar goals and both the capability and political will to achieve them. Stability will allow us to pursue our commercial interests, secure our supplies of energy, food, manufacturing and service capabilities as well as the markets in which we sell the latter.
If, for example, we see Middle East stability as a pre-requisite for the security of particular aspects named above, then we should make sure that our policies reflect our actions in dealing with the protagonists in present-day conflicts.
Some of what Tim has illustrated so clearly appears to take account of certain aspects of this issue, but there is, as Mr A says, lack of a coherent thread which underpins the whole.
At the bottom of it all must rest a properly thought-out overarching strategy that will allow the unforeseen to be sloted carefully in to overall policy and this is what appears to be lacking now.

Why does Mr Hague think that Israel's response is disproportionate?
What would Mr Hague do if the UK had been fired with rockets daily by France for the last 8 years?

Thanks for the summary. Been voting Tory all my life (i'm 30) - but with the notes on Israel you just supplied and so little between the parties now anyway, and foreign policy being so damn important- I won't be voting at all next time round! Mr Hague is a berk. We have troops fighting the same enemies and he just shat on them from a great height. Well done Tories - you are finally pathetic.

Well no one can beat you in writing posts. I really love your posts every time.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker