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Theresa May’s mandate for a revived British global outreach

By Denis Bright

Contrary to popular wisdom, Britain’s significance to Australia has probably increased since the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Soon adrift from a future formal membership of the European Union, a Conservative Britain is free to interact with Europe on its own terms.

Britain’s global outreach is also reinforced by financial and security ties with the US and the vast network of British Commonwealth countries on all continents in the old Cold War traditions (The Guardian Online 23 March 2017).

To this Anglo-world, there are new pragmatic links with merging regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf States, Turkey and Israel in terms of both investment and security ties.

As Election Day approaches, opinion polls show that Labour has a popular vote that is now firming towards the level attained at the 2015 general election.

This level of polling is not good for Labour. The Conservatives have recaptured most of the votes temporarily lost to the UK Independence Party (UKIP).The Conservative vote is now 7-10 per cent higher than in 2015.

Labour seems to have lost its heartland Scottish constituencies to the SNP. There is even some revival in the Scottish Conservative vote outside the major lowland urban areas.

In a House of Commons of 650 members, Labour will congratulate itself on containing its losses to 50-60 seats. Conservatives numbers should be at least 380.

Events such as last weekend’s cyber-attacks on ageing National Health computer systems might add to the volatility of current polling in either direction. Britain is heading back to towards the traditional two-party voting divide outside Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A strong Conservative mandate for Theresa May offers welcome support for Donald Trump’s international ambitions for unilateral military responses by the US and through NATO networks.

Beyond the formal members there is a new network of seven regional partners across the Middle East and North Africa which have strong security accords with NATO Members. Overtures have also been made to Malta, Cyprus and the Gulf States.

NATO mentoring programmes exist with political leaders from the Ukraine, Georgia, other South Caucasus countries and Central Asian nations as far as Mongolia. Russia competes with NATO countries for strategic influence in Kyrgyzstan.

Since 2001 US and NATO troops are stationed at air-bases in Manas (Kyrgyzstan) and at Karchi-Khanabad (Uzbekistan) maintain military supply lines to Afghanistan. (NATO Defense College Foundation Online 2016).

After Brexit, a Conservative Britain can also continue to play a strategically more active role in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. This is a non-elected forum para-military forum with a secretariat in Brussels and an emphasis on gaining more political support for global counter-terrorism operations from Africa to Central Asia.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn’s offers alternative consensus-building responses to such challenges.

Despite his appeals, pre-election polling still shows a sea of Conservative blue across England.

Labour is offering clear centre-left alternatives.

Labour’s Alternative Approach to International Security

Speaking at Chatham House on 12 May 2017, Jeremy Corbyn offered some relief from continued participation in these international intrigues (The Telegraph Online, 13 May 2017):

“A Labour Government will want a strong and friendly relationship with the United States. But we will not be afraid to speak our mind.

The US is the strongest military power on the planet by a very long way. It has a special responsibility to use its power with care and to support international efforts to resolve conflicts collectively and peacefully.

Waiting to see which way the wind blows in Washington isn’t strong leadership. And pandering to an erratic Trump administration will not deliver stability”.

But the ace-card in the Conservative campaign is always the old assumption that the Conservatives are better financial managers.

Lack-luster Conservative Economic Performance after Brexit

The emphasis by Theresa May’s Conservatives on strategic security provides a useful diversion away from closer examination of these financial issues and the economic consequences of Brexit on private capital flows.

Despite negative news coverage of economic performance in France, OECD growth projections for Britain in 2017-18 are only a notch higher.

OECD Projections for Real GDP Growth 2017-18 (%)

The loss of capital inflows from Continental Europe after Brexit is  likely to be off-set by new financial ties with Wall Street and the expanding network of new NATO associates in developing countries.

As with the Australia-US Alliance, NATO has broadened from a purely strategic alliance to a strong political and economic accord. This is taken more seriously by British conservatives than their continental counter-parts who are less forthcoming with military expenditure to support their strategic rhetoric.

British arms sales to Middle East trouble spots make a significant contribution to the export sector. State of the art military sales to Saudi Arabia are so lucrative for Britain that they almost pay for the costs of oil imports (The Guardian Online 17 February 2017).

Jeremy Corbyn offers the logical alternative of more sustainable investment at home and an emphasis on negotiations in international relations.

Such concerns are of little consequence for Conservative MP Mark Menzies in the safe Lancashire constituency of Fylde:

The defence industry is of huge importance to the local economy in my constituency. BAE Systems employs approximately 5,500 workers at its Warton Aerodrome site in Fylde, while a further 4,500 people are employed less than 15 miles away, at Samlesbury. It is crucial that these high-skilled manufacturing jobs continue to be supported, driving and sustaining a buoyant economy in this part of North West England.

Any form of ban on defence exports would also have a considerable impact upon the UK’s own military capabilities. Arms licenses provide valuable income, a proportion of which is spent on research and development work into new technology, ensuring that our military remains among the world’s best. In an uncertain era this is more critical than ever.

If the vote on 8 June 2017 follows current polling trends expect a belligerent Conservative Britain to reactivate its strategic and intelligence ties with the Old Commonwealth and the global military support-base of the expanding Trump Empire. The option of online donations to British Labour should always be considered.

Denis Bright is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in promoting discussion to evaluate pragmatic public policies that are compatible with contemporary globalization.  Denis will be travelling in Italy and France later this month.

 


22 comments

  1. Michael Taylor

    Many of us thought Corbyn would be the Messiah. What the hell has gone wrong?

  2. townsvilleblog

    The british people apparently have not been flogged hard enough, if they want more of what they have had for years they must have masochistic tendencies, they have lost so much already. If they re-elect May they will return to slavery because as in Australia everything that they hold dear has suffered budget cuts to the bone.

  3. Freethinker

    Are we going to see another “Iron Lady” in England?

  4. stephengb2014

    The British working man has never forgotten the policy of appeasment of the 1930s. They are probably equating the scare tactics of the tories and apparent easment mantra of Corbyn as a return of Chamberlain.

    Sad that Chamberlain was never credited with securing time, time for the government to mobilise the factories and re-arm after the devestation of Britains armies and equipment following WWI.

    I hope that there are sufficient vote against the tories but I admit to being dispondent after reading articles like this one.

  5. susan

    The European Union is a legal entity made up of thousands of laws that need to be unravelled in order for Britain to exit. Unfortunately nobody explained to the wider public all the benefits that these laws give to ordinary people. All those people living in the Dover area especially, who are still celebrating winning WW2 are in for a huge shock as their tumble begins. The people elected Corbyn but as often seen today, parliamentarians and the media have no respect for what the people want.

  6. Andreas Bimba

    “But the ace-card in the Conservative campaign is always the old assumption that the Conservatives are better financial managers.”

    And the truth is the Conservatives are the worst economic managers with government austerity and the whole neo-liberal fraud bringing the UK economy to its knees, destroying most of the manufacturing sector and pushing millions into unemployment, underemployment or declining real living standards.

    The UK should have chosen the German or East Asian path of economic development to improve from the stagnation and silly union militancy of the 1970’s rather than Reagan’s and Thatcher’s trickle down fraud which even the Labour Party implemented.

    Let’s see a shift back to the better socialist policies of the past combined with MMT fiscal stimulus and enlightened economic management from Jeremy Corbyn.

  7. 245179

    MT………..many thought turnbull was going to be a messiah, look how that panned out. As a front bencher he was courted by voters generally, his name was often spoken, he wore leather jackets to Q&A, he was “the man in waiting”………..turned out a dud.

  8. jamesss

    Whom ever is elected, they are incapable of correcting the damage already done. The voters included are not thinking outside the box. They are all owned by the City of London. Dismantling of the financial and the political system will create a certain level of chaos, progressively enabling the people an opportunity to implement their requirements through their choices. The current systems are broken and YOU know it, they are beyond fixing. Banks and corporations cannot fix themselves, that is obvious nothing has changed since 2008, in fact the situation is worse.

  9. New Iron Lady

    Thanks Freethinker: You have a great grasp on Therea May’s opportunism. Representing the seat of Maidenhead in Berkshire has fostered her galloping confidence. This seat or its predecessors before 1997 when it was affected by re-distribution has not known Labour representation. Maggie Thatcher’s seat of Finchley (Abolished by redistribution in 1997) had a similar Blue hue that is comparable to seats like Warringah in Sydney.

  10. John Boyd

    Sad that Chamberlain was never credited with securing time, time for the government to mobilise the factories and re-arm after the devestation of Britains armies and equipment following WWI. I agree….he is much maligned…my recollection is that after his return he knew what was happening, and ordered a major purchase of arms, including 30(?) squadrons of spitfires, as well as bombers etc.

  11. Leila Smith

    The people of Britain made one big mistake last year exiting Europe, let’s hope they look for a change with Jeremy Colman .
    Great article Denis !

  12. Matters Not

    Re this Jeremy Colman. Is that Jeremy Corbyn’s likely successor? Must admit, I’ve never heard of him. Or is it (most likely) just a typo pf sorts?Just askin …

  13. Pat

    Was Britain really a fully committed European country with its ties to Wall Street and the Pentagon?

  14. James

    The prospect of a conservative lanslide has turned me off a trip to Britain.

  15. Millie

    Logic demands a narrowing of Theresa May’s lead in the polls.

  16. wam

    wow michael, corbyn was spouting thoughts fashionable 20 years before the rabbott’s and his outlook is menzian.

    Read somewhere june comes after the end of may that is important for pommie labour as there are no junes in the house??

  17. Jasper

    How can the noble traditions of Westminster be reconciled with arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in attacks on civilian targets in Yemen?

  18. helvityni

    LOL James,I prefer to have France as my next overseas holiday…thanks to Emmanuel Macron.

    ( I don’t like xenophobic people like Dutton, so I would not visit France if Marine Le Pen had won the election…)

  19. Rubio@Coast

    Labour is now ahead in the Under 40 age groups: I think the Polls will narrow when people realise the folly of giving Theresa May open slather: But over 60s are the Conservatives best constituency! They might be too old to fight in the Middle East but should be concerned about the National Health Service and delayed retirement.

  20. paul walter

    They baffle me, really.

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    The UK has sold all in the name of racism. We need to treat them with the same respect they showed us when they entered EU.

  22. Rubio@Coast

    British Labour has closed the gap a little with its best poll result of 33%: A higher vote than in 2015. Problem is that the Conservatives have recaptured most of the votes lost to UKIP in 2015 and are still in a 14% lead. Here’s hoping that the electorate will wake up before 8 June.

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