The world according to Michael Ancram

by | Oct 8, 2010

I’ve just been reading a  new pamphlet on foreign policy by Michael Ancram – a Tory grandee who was Deputy Leader of the Party and Shadow Defence Secretary until 2005. In lots of ways, the paper – entitled ‘Farewell to Drift’, and available as a pdf here – is much as you’d expect.

There’s a section on hard power (“the days of using hard power for ‘nation building’ … are well and truly over”), and another on national security (forget aircraft carriers, spend the money on “a navy that can protect our islands from physical attack, infiltration, smuggling – or even piracy against our shipping”). Development, on the other hand, does not warrant a section; DFID gets a mention, but only in the sense that

The Foreign Office has been emasculated by the creation of DFID, which veers dangerously close to setting its own foreign policy at times … DFID’s budget overwhelms that of the FCO, further undermining the former.

But interestingly, although climate change isn’t mentioned, there is a separate section on Energy, Food and Water – which, from a starting point of the national interest, ends up at a sort of realisation of the need for collective action, especially on the latter two.

Of course, you can’t do much about energy, food and water without going via climate change. But given the toxic politics surrounding climate at the moment, Ancram’s angle of approach confirms a hunch I’ve had for a while – that resource scarcity may be a useful entry point to the debate that allows for easier engagement of actors sceptical of cliamte change.


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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