The prime minister’s human shield – William Hague – is going nowhere.

by Jamie Reed

As speculation intensifies in westminster-media circles about the future of foreign secretary, William Hague, a reality check is called for. For now, at least, William Hague is unsackable.

To be clear, experts in the field and foreign office officials must cringe in times of international crisis as Westminster politicians and commentators alike become lay-experts in diplomacy and the detailed realities of any given troubled region. This in mind, it doesn’t stop the often ugly truth from emerging.

Gordon Brown was rarely more prophetic than when he declared of our vainglorious prime minister that this is “no time for a novice”. But a novice is what the country has been landed with and what the rest of the international community now has been burdened with as well.

A laconic Hague has been blamed for the shambolic, shameful and humiliating response from Britain to the crisis in Libya – yet Hague’s performance illustrates the behaviour of a man not in control of Britain’s response. Not because he lacks the ability, but because an undeserving prime minister – driven by domestic political considerations instead of international policy objectives – is desperate to cast himself as a world leader and take control of affairs of which he has little understanding. As a result, his diplomatic ineptitude has been laid bare.

Cameron’s late response to the crisis (despite being in neighbouring Egypt at the onset) led to the bellowing of naive threats which were as excruciating in their delivery as they were destructive in their consequence. It was left to the foreign secretary to attempt to clean up after this intemperate and ill-advised outburst, with the US also slapping down the would-be world leader. It was No.10, too, who authorised the recent ludicrous deployment of the SAS, again to counter-productive and even humiliating effect. Little wonder that President Obama believes our dear Prime Minister to be a “light weight”.

It is painful for MPs on all sides of the House to watch Britain’s diplomatic standing cheapened in the way in which it has been in recent weeks. In his increasingly embarassing attempts to emulate Tony Blair, Cameron has exposed himself as a third division Anthony Eden. Hague is Cameron’s first and last line of defence in foreign affairs. His removal would expose the prime ministers naked incompetence. This latest human shield will be around for a while yet.

Jamie Reed is Labour MP for Copeland and a shadow environment minister.

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2 Responses to “The prime minister’s human shield – William Hague – is going nowhere.”

  1. Tacitus says:

    The author may be right that Hague will be around for a time and if so, we can expect the international incompetencies to grow and fester. No such luck though on our internal politics. In this respect, Citizen Dave, the people’s toff is ‘fathererd’ by anothe ex- leader – Iain Duncan Smith.

    Unlike Hagie, IDS brings to the job, knowledge, awareness, political acumen and intellect. Whilst Hague is successfully torpedoing his own party’s chances of future electoral success, IDS will be shoring up defences and guiding DC to continued ‘success’ – even if its on our backs.

  2. While the article is rightly critical of the lamentable efforts of Cameron and Hague, both clearly out of their depth in relation to Libya, it’s disappointing that there is no suggestion from the author as to what we as a nation must do to act now?  
    Verbal condemnation of Gadaffi, internal discussions within the EU as well as the useless, impotent UN, have gone on for weeks now.  Those discussions have matured into nothing of practical benefit to the people of Libya or the families of Gadaffi’s victims. 

    Sarkozy and Cameron, embarrassed by their initial response to the crisis are now talking tough; but talk is cheap. Hundreds are dying now; right now…when will we ever learn?
    If a ground invasion is our least favoured means of intervention, we surely must immediately enforce a no-fly zone within Libya, bomb Gadaffi’s military runways and aircraft and target Gadaffi himself, arm those who want rid of him and not stop until he is gone.  An alliance of EU member states would have sufficient aircraft to make a go of it even if the US won’t.  We owe Gadaffi nothing but our contempt.
    It is the right thing to do to actively support those who are giving up their lives for their freedom and their future and who are suffering sickening human rights abuses at the hands of this sociopath – these are the reasons, good sound reasons, that must always act as the primary, over-riding motivation of the UK and her allies.  

    The words of those at home and abroad who condemn such intervention will kill no-one; but if we do nothing for one more hour and for one more day in Libya, Gadaffi will destroy the lives, hopes, and aspirations of a nation that is demanding its freedom.  

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