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Shadow Security Minister Dame Pauline Neville-Jones is, according to the monthly ConservativeHome survey of grassroots members, the most popular female member of the shadow cabinet.  Elevated to the Lords at the same time as Sayeeda Warsi she has been working away at developing a coherent Conservative security policy – taking a tough line on domestic extremism and developing a global perspective on threats and opportunities.  Although, by many accounts, she has struggled to adapt to the political cut-and-thrust she is set to be a very authoritative minister.

Earlier this week she delivered a speech to the World Islamic Economic Forum in Jakarta.  Key extracts are published below.

We could see a reversal of progress on international poverty: “According to the World Bank, from 1981 to 2001, the number of people living on less than $1 a day went down from 1.5 billion to 1 billion.  Improvements in global literacy went hand-in-hand with this.  This favourable trend could now go into reverse. Just one indicator of what is at stake.”

Private capital flows to emerging economies are set to collapse: “In 2007, net private capital flows to emerging economies were $898 billion… The Institute of International Finance estimates that net private capital flows to emerging and developing countries will be just $165 billion in 2009 – a decline of 82 per cent from 2007.”

The early stages of the world recession have already caused low level
political instability:
” The United States intelligence community has
looked at some of these issues. Its current Threat Assessment observes
that ‘roughly a quarter of the countries in the world have already
experienced low-level instability such as government changes because of
the current slowdown.  Europe and the former Soviet Union have
experienced the bulk of the anti-state demonstrations’.  In other
words, have already been and will continue to be a rise in social
unrest directly attributable to the economic downturn.  No doubt not
all of it will be peaceful.”

One third of the world’s nations may struggle to cope with the economic
challenge:
“The  US Threat Assessment goes on to say that ‘although
two-thirds of countries in the world have sufficient financial or other
means to limit the impact for the moment, much of Latin America, former
Soviet Union states and sub-Saharan Africa lack sufficient cash
reserves, access to international aid or credit, or other coping
mechanism.”

Under-pressure governments may become repressive and protectionist: “If
the crisis goes on for more than a couple of years or so some
governments are likely to be toppled.  The political insecurity of
governments can itself be a potent driver of both repression and
economic nationalism which they may see as shortcuts to greater
security.“

Extremists and terrorists may exploit the economic downturn: “We know
that a number of factors contribute to the vulnerability of individuals
to extremist messages of any kind, including poor education,
unemployment, poor local services, isolation and lack of effective
political rights or a combination of all of these.  The economic crisis
is likely to exacerbate such factors, sharpen the effects of underlying
conflicts and potentially increase the appeal of the terrorist message.“

The importance of increasing food supply in the years ahead: “The World
Bank predicts that, by 2030, demand for food will increase by fifty per
cent- largely the effect of population increase. But how will suppliers
meet it, when things like climate change and poor weather conditions
can reduce crop output? Will improved husbandry be enough? …Over thirty
countries have reduced exports, introduced export restrictions or
stockpiled food.  Food protectionism is a bad start.  And countries
like Saudi Arabia and China have responded to the prospect of increased
costs and the possibility of shortages by seeking long-term food
purchase agreements, buying land leases or, indeed, buying tracts of
agricultural land outright in places like Africa.  That makes other
countries’ problems greater as the tracts of land are not being secured
for trading purposes, but for the direct shipment of products to their
own populations.  Food prices are likely to be driven up by autarky.”
In response PNJ suggests reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, a
greater proportion of aid spending to be devoted to food security and,
possibly, “a more internationally organized system of storage for
certain basic food stuffs.”

In the speech PNJ also warns against cartelisation of the energy market
and against protectionism.  She says that the G20 may now be a more
appropriately diverse group of nations to manage the scale of
international economic challenges we face:

“My protected market is your closed factory and angry workforce…
Maintaining the open system – requires possibly unpopular decisions
about keeping markets open and thus putting some local jobs at risk and
is a much bigger immediate challenge to political leaderships.   But it
is the route more likely to bring long run sustainable security.  But
while governments can be protectionist on their own, they have to
cooperate to keep markets open. As a proponent of liberal capitalism, I
want to see it heal itself and continue to be the motor of
international economic development and welfare.  To achieve this, we
need to use global mechanisms.  The G7 is no longer inclusive enough
and it is right that the G20, despite being somewhat unwieldy as a
steering mechanism, is at last – some might say rather late – taking
primacy.”

It’s a wide-ranging informative speech and you can read the whole thing here.

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