Posts Tagged ‘Henry Bellingham’

What are Tory ministers up to in Sudan?

30/01/2011, 12:31:33 PM

by James Watkins

The arid, sun drenched lands of southern Sudan may seem a long way from the corridors of Whitehall. But the actions of British ministers are raising eyebrows – and have led to real differences in the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain.

Right now, the count in a key referendum is taking place that is likely to lead to the world’s newest nation in southern Sudan being created this summer. Interim results are already out that shows there is, to date, 99% support for a new state. The referendum is going forward largely peacefully – with the exception of deadly violence in a key border area between northern and southern Sudan. The African Union is playing a critical role in this largely peaceful process with these efforts being hailed by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, as a step forward for the continent.

But this referendum is taking place against a background where horrific violence between Sudanese forces and southern Sudanese militias had led to the deaths of 2 million people. Sudan is already scarred by the tragedy in the eastern Sudanese province of Darfur where the actions of the Sudanese government-backed militias have, according to the united nations, played a major role in the deaths of 300,000 people. As a consequence, the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the international criminal court on charges of genocide. (more…)

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A popular alternative to the Tories’ seedy foreign policy, by Nick Keehan

21/10/2010, 04:28:28 PM

The spending review leaves no doubt about the government’s priorities when it comes to foreign policy: those diplomats and civil servants remaining at the foreign office after it has undergone budget cuts of 24 per cent will focus on championing British companies abroad and increasing business links and market information for UK exporters. The foreign office will become, in effect, a consultancy and PR firm for business, underwritten by the UK taxpayer.

In this, the spending review simply reaffirms what the foreign secretary has been saying since entering the job in May. In his speech to a Tokyo audience in July, “Britain’s prosperity in a networked world”’, William Hague made it clear that promoting trade and commercial interests would be at the heart of Britain’s foreign policy. The government would “inject a new commercialism into the work of the foreign office and into the definition of our international objectives”; it would give “significant new emphasis to helping British business secure new opportunities”; and it would use its political influence “to help unblock obstacles to commercial success”.

Not any old obstacles, obviously. There would be some red lines which the government would “never, ever cross” in pursuit of British interests, as David Cameron told the Conservative party conference. Under the Tories, a devolved Scottish government would never again exercise its constitutional right to release a convicted foreign terrorist on compassionate grounds, for example. Cameron said this in a very stern voice, lest it seem like a cynical platitude which he doesn’t have the power to deliver.

If the obstacles to your commercial success include only an indictment for genocide, however, you are in luck. (more…)

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