LABOUR MANIFESTO LOWDOWN: WHITHER FOREIGN POLICY?


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FEAR NOT brave global electorate, we’ve saved you the bother of reading through the Labour manifesto by trawling through all 78 pages of it and quoting the foreign policy highlights. And sneaky as they are, Labour might have tucked away the ‘Global Futures’ section right at the back of the document but here we are to bump it right up (lord knows the newspapers aren’t doing it*)

I’m afraid its not good news. As verbose as it is, the Labour scribes seem to have missed the essay-writing memo to back up every point with an example. The manifesto has blanket statements about “bringing stability to Afghanistan”, fighting climate change, reforming the Common Agricultural Policy without really truly spelling out how.

The Global Futures chapter makes for interesting reading—but nowhere does it address the lack of legitimacy at the heart of the global decision making process. What it suggests regarding reforming the UN system would merely recreate the same structure of governing. We’re assuming ‘extension of the G8’ doesn’t exactly mean an a proportionate, democratic system of world governance.

So sadly, it’s more in the running for a creative writing award.

Still, here’s the Labour low-down on policies which might affect Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana and by extension, the rest of the world.

What do YOU think of these pledges? Anything they’ve missed? Think the silences speak louder than the words?

*Apart from the Daily Telegraph, who have written at least 5 articles so far bemoaning the demise of a ‘hard military Britain’ with its big guns blazing in exchange for a soft one focusing on aid, debt-forgiveness and reform of the multilateral system. Erm, we don’t really think that’s a bad thing….

SELECTED OUT-TAKES:

FOREWORD

This General Election is fought as our troops are bravely fighting to defend the safety of the British people and the security of the world in Afghanistan. They bring great pride and credit to our country: we honour and will always support them.

Over the next ten years we will confront major challenges - intensive global competition, climate change, an ageing society and bringing stability to Afghanistan.

INTRODUCTION

We need fundamental reform of our politics to make it more accountable. We will let the people decide how to reform our institutions and our politics: changing the voting system and electing a second chamber to replace the House of Lords.

GREEN ECONOMY

  • Achieve around 40 per cent low-carbon electricity by 2020 and create 400,000 new green jobs by 2015.
  • Make greener living easier and fairer through ‘pay as you save’ home energy insulation, energy-bill discounts for pensioners and requiring landlords to properly insulate rented homes.
  • Move towards a ‘zero waste’ Britain, banning recyclable and biodegradable materials from landfill.
  • Link together new protected areas of habitat; maintain the Green Belt; increase forest and woodland areas.
  • Ensure fairness for food producers through EU reform and a Supermarkets Ombudsman; and support post offices, shops and pubs in rural communities.

A GLOBAL FUTURE

The contrast with the Tory view could not be starker: they are stuck in the past, spurning alliances in Europe and helpless to defend our interests or secure the global change we need.

The next stage of national renewal

  • Conduct a Strategic Defence Review to equip our Armed Forces for 21st Century challenges, and support our troops and veterans.
  • Use our international reach to build security and stability – combating terrorism and extremism, curbing proliferation, preventing and resolving conflict, and tackling climate change.
  • Lead the agenda for an outward-facing European Union that delivers jobs, prosperity and global influence.
  • Re-energise the drive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, supporting sustainable growth and combating poverty.
  • Reform the UN, International Financial Institutions, the G8 and G20, and NATO to adapt to the new global challenges.

Afghanistan: our commitment

A stable Afghanistan and a stable Pakistan means a safer Britain: if Afghanistan fell to the Taleban, Al Qaeda could regroup, and Pakistan’s stability and our national security would be threatened.

We have met every request for extra equipment for Afghanistan: in the last four years we have doubled the number of helicopters, and spent £1.7 billion on 1,800 new vehicles – including the Mastiff, brought into service in record time and saving lives with world-leading protection against mines and roadside bombs.

Our forces are working to a clear strategy – to protect the Afghan people and train Afghan security forces. The London conference in January 2010 agreed there should be 300,000 Afghan Army and Police by the end of 2011, with British forces and other countries shifting more of their effort into training to begin the process of handing over responsibility for districts and provinces to Afghan forces later this year.

Afghanistan is not a war without end. Together the military and civilian effort is designed to create the conditions for a political settlement that keeps Al Qaeda out, reconciles tribal interests, and involves Afghanistan’s neighbours. It will lock in the long-term gains delivered by our aid programme since 2002 – with millions more children, especially girls, going to school, big reductions in child mortality, and better access to basic healthcare. It requires stronger local administration and less corruption, combined with a way back for former fighters who are prepared to renounce links to Al Qaeda and abide by the Afghan constitution.

Strengthening our Armed Forces and national Security

We have created Britain’s first ever National Security Strategy to strengthen our response to fast-moving and interconnected threats, from terrorism and nuclear proliferation to new challenges like cybersecurity.

Defence spending has increased by ten per cent in real terms since 1997. Funding for Iraq and Afghanistan is additional to that, with the Treasury Reserve providing £18 billion in total so far and an estimated £5 billion in the next year.

A strong Britain in a reformed Europe

Fundamental reform of the EU budget remains necessary, with further changes to the Common Agricultural Policy on the way to ending export subsidies. Transfers within the EU must target those areas that are least well off.

On climate change, the EU has a critical leadership role to play in securing a legally binding UN agreement, reducing its emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels in the context of an ambitious global deal. It must also offer stronger leadership on global poverty reduction.

The poverty of the Tory vision is summed up by their false choice between an alliance with the United States and one with Europe. In Europe they are not just isolated, but marginalised – in a tiny group of far-right parties that endorses extreme views and is stuck in climate-change denial.

Elsewhere in the world their anti-European attitudes are seen as undermining British influence. They are helpless to shape change, or defend our interests.

Strengthening global security and preventing conflict

We have shown in Afghanistan and elsewhere that our military, diplomats and development staff can set an international standard for joint working, but we will not put the aid budget under military control.

We will spend at least half of our new bilateral aid in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Our leadership on debt cancellation has freed 28 countries from the shackles of debt. We will continue to drive this agenda, building on legislation to clampdown on vulture funds.

Access to health, education, food, water and sanitation are basic human rights. We will spend £8.5 billion over eight years to help more children go to school; maintain our pledge to spend £6 billion on health between 2008 and 2015 and £1 billion through the Global Fund to support the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria; fight for universal access to prevention, treatment and care for HIV/AIDS by 2010; and deliver at least 30 million additional anti-malarial bednets over the next three years.

We will provide £1 billion for water and sanitation by 2013, driving this issue up the international agenda, and over £1 billion on food security and agriculture. We will push for the establishment of a Global Council on Child Hunger. We will help save the lives of six million mothers and babies by 2015 and, because international focus on the needs of women and girls is vital, we will double core funding to the new UN Women’s agency.

While the Tories would favour private schemes, we will work closely with NGOs and developing countries to eliminate user fees and promote healthcare and education free at the point of access.

We will encourage other countries to ratify the ILO conventions on labour standards, as we have done.

Trade can lift millions out of poverty. We will work with the private sector, trade unions and co-operatives to promote sustainable development, quadruple our funding for fair and ethical trade, and press for a fair World Trade Organisation deal, with no enforced liberalisation for poor countries, and increased duty-free and quota-free access.

Reforming global institutions

To secure global change, we will make the case for:

  • The extension of the G8.
  • A clearer mandate for the World Bank to focus on the poorest countries and promote low-carbon development; and for the IMF to focus on financial stability, with both becoming more inclusive.
  • Radical UN reform, including new membership of the Security Council, budgetary reform, and an overhaul of UN agencies.
  • Continuing reform of NATO and stronger international co-operation to tackle security challenges, while building the capacity of regional security organisations including the African Union.

Picture inspiration from the New Statesman...

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Comments

I totally agree with the Lib Dems.

I am 20 years old, I did all the things the Government say you should do. Go to College, get qualifications, earn more money, and save. And yet, I'm working part-time in Burger King, desperatly trying to move in with my partner, but to do so, I have to find work closer to her. She's on a minimum wage income, and with tax, it leaves her about £400 a month, to pay everything else.

It's all well and good saying we should do all the right things, but when you've done all those things, and still ended up in a low-income job, it gets you down. And it's also no good in saying about Working Tax credits, because neither of us are able to claim that until we are 25. So the only benefits we are able to recieve, is housing and council tax.

What I would like to see the government doing, is bringing the age limit for working tax credit down to 18. Why if you can move out at 16, and classed as an adult at 18, is the age 25 on working tax credit? That doesn't help the majority of people on a low income.

So, my vote is going with Clegg. The £10,000 tax limit will help me loads.

Are we going to see brown soon? http://www.youtube.com/user/brownforbangladesh

Would be lovely to see the PM's reaction!