The Foreign Policy Debate – Live

by | Apr 22, 2010

No advantages to Europe

Cameron: “In Europe, but not run by Europe.” Clegg: “I want to lead in the European Union.” Brown: “Never let us be an empty chair again in Europe.” Clegg wants us a referendum to stay in the EU, but Cameron thinks that would be a con (take that Europe sceptics). Brown: “David is anti-European. Nick is anti-American.” Half the audience heads for the pub.

Should the UK invade another failing state.

Clegg: Yes, but we’d do the job properly next time (right equipment, right strategy). I’d drop Eurofighter and would avoid thinking about Trident. Brown: Al Qaeda in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan.”Terrorists cannot be allowed to have bases in the world where they attack the United Kingdom.” And the Afghan army can beat the Taliban, even if we can’t. What does IED stand for? Cameron: “I will think carefully about what’s in the national interest.” I practically live in Afghanistan and I speak fluent COIN.

Cameron and Brown gang up on Clegg. Cameron has now had a dig at Clegg for opposing or flip-flopping on Trident and wanting to sell our place for the P5. Brown to Clegg: “get real.” Clegg: You want to exclude the biggest question of all from your defence review.

Fluff about climate change – what are leaders doing personally to reduce emissions?

Brown, Cameron try and turn back to policy. Cameron: I’ve come out… against the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Clegg: Can I spend a minute being boring about aviation tax?Brown – Cameron’s against wind power, Clegg’s against nuclear – I believe in both. Cameron mentions the Green Deal – houses to get £6.5k of energy improvement goodies, paid for by the money they’ll save on future bills. Clegg jabs at Brown for being sidelined in Copenhagen – while the US and Europe stitched up the deal.

Do you hate the Pope as much as I do?

Clegg comes out… as an atheist. Brown:  I’m a Presbyterian. Cameron: I don’t agree with the Pope on abortion.

Er – I think that’s it for foreign policy – which has bored the nation rigid… Yep – it’s all sparked up now we’re off international issues. Meanwhile, people are wondering which channel this is on.

Banking system (not a question – just came up by chance).

Clegg: Brown’s failed to tackle the banks – he should break them up. High street should be split from investment banking. Brown: We don’t need small banks, but more capital and international supervision. Cameron: _______.

On Twitter, the UK’s aid community is going bonkers about the failure to mention development. And this pic is doing the rounds…

And it’s over… Foreign policy barely got a look in. Nothing at all on poverty or international development. Today’s threats may be global, but British politics can only cope with local. Whoever is the next PM is going to need a new narrative on how we survive in a world where all the game changers come from overseas

Gideon Rachman reacts.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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