We currently live in a world in which long-term conflicts and terrorism are capable of destabilising political structures on a global scale. The effect of the rise of ISIS, the wars in Syria and Iraq, and global terrorism upon the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote are plain to see. The only way to genuinely combat these issues is through clear, effective foreign policy. The “strong and stable” mantra doesn’t cut it here.
The real crime that the Conservatives have committed is a lack of specificity. I urge you to find a text version of the conservative manifesto, press ctrl+F, and search for these key terms: Middle East, Africa, Syria, Iraq, Saudi, Yemen, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, and Russia. Any luck? No. Now try it with the Labour manifesto. Clue: They’re all there. This isn’t to say that the Labour foreign policy is perfect; the key here is that it actually exists.
So what is the Conservative Party’s proposed foreign policy? Here are the key points:
The Conservatives have also promised to “strengthen our close links with our commonwealth allies.” Having failed to go into specifics about which countries, and the policies that they intend to implement, this is little more than a blanket statement covering over a quarter of the world’s countries. It is not a substantive policy.
Foreign Military Action
Who Needs a Foreign Policy?
Regulating tech firms and creating new taskforces might stop a terror attack, but it will not stop terrorism, and it will not stop extremism. The current threat from ISIS stems from the Middle East, and the threat will not be neutralised until the region is stable. We need a resolution to the conflicts in Libya, Iraq and Syria in order to truly solve the problem of Islamic extremism. We need to stop Saudi Arabia, our stalwart friend and ally, from funding terrorist organisations that undertake acts of terror against British citizens, on British soil.
The Conservatives are refusing to address these problems because they are too afraid to fall on the wrong side of any issue that the public feels strongly about. They are already so far ahead in the polls that their best option in most policy areas is to promise very little and make no serious mistakes. They know that they have already won.
The worrying result of this noncommittal stance is that, going forward, the next Conservative government will be acting in the realm of foreign policy without a clear mandate. Labour has accused the Conservatives of writing a blank cheque but, in reality, they have written us a blank manifesto.
Chris Lascelles is a recent International Relations graduate from Aberystwyth University.