- Oct 28, 2007
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
Britain in decline? (2)
Nick Robinson | 22:05 UK time, Monday, 15 November 2010
Tonight at the Guildhall (apologies for the earlier reference to the Mansion House) the prime minister asserted that Britain is not in decline nor, according to the people he has spoken to since moving in to Number Ten, is it seen to be.
He heralded a foreign policy based on "hard-headed internationalism". I wonder if he realises that this is precisely the phrase used by Gordon Brown at his first Guildhall speech three years ago?
Just like his predecessor, David Cameron pointed to our well known assets - language, time zone, membership of the EU and UN Security Council, the City of London and our military.
He insisted that it is by resolving our economic problems at home that we will restore our status abroad. He argued that our military will remain the 4th largest in the world, even after the cuts.
David Cameron pointed to three ways in which his foreign policy is different to that of his predecessors.
He claims that it is more commercial, more strategic and that overseas aid under the coalition is more focused on delivering a safer world.
What he did not deliver was a vision. There was no equivalent to the resolution of the cold warrior Margaret Thatcher, the ethical foreign policy of the early Blair years, the interventionism of the later Blair years or the Brown declaration that "global problems require global solutions".
There is no list of the problems facing the world - Iran, the Middle East peace process, Burma etc - with Cameron's proposed solutions.
In their place comes that promise to be more "hard headed" and more focused on Britain's national interest.
David Cameron looked much more comfortable than his predecessor at this banquet, dressed in white tie, surrounded by ambassadors, dukes and bishops and heralded by trumpets.
However, I'm told that he found writing this speech much harder than Gordon Brown did.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that foreign policy under David Cameron will be much more defined by what happens - by events, in other words - and much less by any guiding vision.Nick Robinson BBC Blog
Personally, whoever my Prime Minister is - I want a vision for the UK and I want it to be aspirational; even when we are facing huge domestic cuts and measures to recover from the credit crunch.
I'm dissapointed at Cameron's speech - not that I want us to try and save the world's problems anymore - that's the US's self proclaimed mantle. I want to know what vision we have for industry, for our relationships in the international sector.
Hard-headedness is good, sort out the debt and the economy is excellent and focus on the commercial relations we have in growing nations like China and India but I also want to know where the UK is headed ethically and aspirationally - are we going to reform and bring back greater focus on the liberties we began to lose under Blair? Where will our industry focus be? How will our education sector help deliver the vocational, technical and academic graduates that the UK industry needs?
At this time of year and this time of the economic calendar, a rejuvinating speech and not one of an accountant was what was needed.