The Coalition’s shiny new foreign policy

John Rentoul

 The Coalitions shiny new foreign policyWilliam Hague, the Foreign Secretary, made a speech yesterday. It got all the public-relations hoopla push that the government machine can manage. It’s on the front page of the Foreign Office website. There were news reports and commentators’ comments and a whole item on Newsnight last night.

And what did it amount to?

The Newsnight report told us all we needed to know. Two things. One, it was not a very interesting speech. The best bit they showed a clip of was this turgid waffle from the peroration, which he delivered extremely badly:

In the coming months we will develop a national strategy for advancing our goals in the world that ties together the efforts of government, that is led by foreign policy thinking, that works through strengthened international institutions as well as reinvigorated bilateral relationships, that is consciously focused on securing our economic prosperity for the future, and that unashamedly pursues our enlightened national interest of seeking the best for our own citizens while living up to our responsibilities towards others.

And no, if you read the whole text, you will see that this was not the BBC playing its usual game of telling people what the man said, and allowing a mere few seconds to let them hear what the man was actually saying. It was all either meaningless or completely uncontentious.

Which brings us to point two. Mark Malloch Brown, the Labour former Foreign Office minister in the studio, said it was a “very good speech”. So good, in fact, that it was “a speech that David Miliband could have given”.

No wonder we all think that Liam Fox, Defence Secretary, disagreeing with David Cameron, Prime Minister, about the length of time our troops should serve in Afghanistan is a better story.

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  • danlee1001

    Consensus on British foreign policy between the two main parties is generally the rule rather than the exception isn’t it? That includes policy on the EU, at least in terms of what governments actually do once they’re in power.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    This is one of the rare things I agree with you on John. Hague’s foreign policy speech said nothing much.

  • Duncan_McFarlane

    This is one of the rare things I agree with you on John. Hague's foreign policy speech said nothing much.

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