Dr Spencer Pitfield is the National Voluntary Director of the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF).
The latest national policy discussion paper Britain’s Place in the World, led by Georgina Butler, the CPF Sectoral Chairman for Foreign Affairs, Defence & Aid, has just been released to Conservative Policy Forum groups across the country. Once again, the CPF discussion programme is at the forefront of our national debate, and as such it is particularly timely, given recent events in the world, that we should be turning our policy attention to foreign affairs.
Britain has long played a role in international affairs, still wielding a great amount of influence on the world stage. We have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and are members of NATO, the EU and the Commonwealth of Nations, of which our Queen is the head. Our Armed Forces are the envy of the world, we have one of the largest diplomatic networks of any nation, and our soft power appeal is second to none.
All these things ensure that, first and foremost, we can protect the interests of the British people and help create new opportunities for our young people, businesses and our nation as a whole. That is why. even as we deal with the nation’s deficit, we are in the process of opening up to 20 new British Embassies and diplomatic posts overseas, after a decade in which Labour closed 33 posts and oversaw the shrinking of our international influence.
William Hague has been said that the Government’s vision of foreign affairs is“ a distinctive British foreign policy that is active in Europe and across the world; that builds up British engagement in the parts of the globe where opportunities as well as threats increasingly lie; that is at ease within a networked world and harnesses the full potential of our cultural links, and that promotes our national interest while recognising that this cannot be narrowly or selfishly defined”
The United Kingdom is also a force for good in the world: a leader in the protection of human rights and democratic values and always prompt to respond to humanitarian emergencies and distress overseas, whether caused by conflict or natural disasters. We understand that Britain is safer when other countries are stabile, secure and prosperous. It is in our DNA to have a foreign policy with a conscience, and it is in our national interest too. Our evolving relationships throughout the world and the networked nature of foreign affairs raise questions about Britain’s place in the world.
These are just some of the issues highlighted in this most recent CPF discussion paper and I very much look forward to receiving your views – the closing date for submissions is 31st October.