New Labour’s Foreign Policies between 1997 and 2010

free essayBetween 1997 and 2007, Britain witnessed a lot of changes in its foreign relations and policies (Williams 2005). This was the time when Britain was led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Tony Blair took over from Gordon Brown to spearhead the New Labour. This essay, therefore, tries to discern the influence brought about by the New Labour. The major issues to be discussed in this essay are reasons of why the New Labour managed to influence the relations of Britain with other states. Apart from that, the essay highlights the values added by the New Labour in making Britain a better country in terms of foreign relations and policies. To achieve the goals, the discourse shall discern each aspect of the New Labour with special regards to the aforementioned points. The essay is divided into certain paragraphs, each of which carries a point. Moreover, the essay employs critical analysis of the features to be discussed. This approach ensures that all issues regarding the question are covered in a clear, unequivocal, and impartial manner. After dealing with all aspects of the issue, a conclusion that summarises up all issues underscored in the essay. Lots of research materials are employed in the essay. For example, journals, books, and magazines are used as sources of important information that is of great significance in addressing the question. These materials provide examples that serve as evidence of the facts stated in the discourse. In essence, this essay does not only answer the question asked but also give an unambiguous explanation regarding the New Labour in 1997-2007.

Among the major aspects that the New Labour introduced in Britain was the use of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for improving the foreign relations of the United Kingdom. The FCO was supported by the then Prime Minister of Britain. Tony Blair assisted by the Downing Street teams was “selling” the United Kingdom across the globe. For instance, the FCO was mandated to promote the cordial relationship between the Commonwealth states and the United Kingdom. It is factual that some of the Commonwealth states, which were close allies of the United Kingdom, had been estranging by entering into alliances with other countries at the expense of Britain (Mullard 2012). The increase in technological advancements meant that other states could access the allies of the United Kingdom easily. For instance, they could communicate and conclude treaties that could draw the Commonwealth members away from the United Kingdom. To curb this, the New Labour in collaboration with the FCO engaged in cementing the friendship of the United Kingdom with the Commonwealth states. This aim was achieved through the sale of the UK luring foreign policies to them. Ultimately, the United Kingdom was able to keep its traditional allies, and it was the result of the New Labour’s foreign policies (Manning 2003).

According to Chadwick and Heffernan (2003), there came a time when the New Labour’s and FCO principles differed drastically. This caused tension between the New Labour and FCO. While FCO advocated for military interventions to Iraq, the then Prime Minister, who was the head of the Labour Party advocated for peaceful means and diplomatic approach. Moreover, while the FCO preferred applying sanctions to Kosovo, the Labour Party considered such an approach suicidal in terms of foreign relations. Therefore, the New Labour initiated a discussion between the Prime Minister and the FCO delegates to find a better way of dealing with nations that were going against the provisions of the international laws. Ultimately, the New Labour succeeded in convincing the FCO in the need to promote the foreign relations without using force or sanctions. It is factual that, without the New Labour’s stand, Britain could have invaded Iraq. Of course, the effects of engaging in a war were undesirable.

According to Alcock, May, and Wright (2012, p. 212), 1997-2010 was a period that witnessed numerous threats, out of which terrorism and environmental degradation remained the crucial ones. Apart from the United Kingdom, other nations experienced a wave of terror attacks. For instance, the United States was hit by the September 11th attack that put the security of the United States of America to test. In the United Kingdom, there were a series of suicide bombings that claimed numerous lives of the kingdom citizens. The 7th July 2005 suicide bombing is a clear example of terror events that troubled the government of the United Kingdom greatly. Moreover, a number of the United Kingdom allies were not spared by the effects of terrorism. Kenya, a close ally of the United Kingdom, for instance, experienced a gruesome terror attack in its capital, in 1998.With regards to environmental degradation; a number of serious cases of the ozone layer destruction were reported worldwide.

Apart from that, environmental pollution within the United Kingdom and other nations has increased extremely. The above-given examples highlight the monumental problems that were experienced. From the description of these problems, it is evident that they cut across many nations, not only the United Kingdom (Martin & Garnett 1997, p.123). To tackle these problems, a combination of efforts by the affected nations was required. The Labour Party had to tackle the threats by issuing policies that would allow the United Kingdom to participate in fighting these global menaces without overstretching its financial ability. In essence, the New Labour managed to achieve this goal as it enabled the United Kingdom join with other states to address the abovementioned threats (Machin 1996).

The Britain’s sense of identity, as well as its values were well-managed by the New Labour. Challenges that faced the British government during the 1997-2010 period forced the government to contemplate numerous issues in its attempt to salvage Britain. Among the most contemplated issues, there was waging the military war against the enemies of Britain (Daddow & Gaskarth 2011). Alternatively, there was an option of sanctioning those states and or people who contravened the international law. However, there were some individuals within the labour government who consistently reminded the government about the British identity and ethical values that must be preserved. Robin Cook, a former foreign affairs secretary, is remembered for his persuasive ability that prevented the Prime Minister from engaging into the wars. This achievement was ascribed to his unwavering believe in the doctrine of ethics. Even though Robin Cook failed as a foreign secretary, he must be lauded for his ethical stands on matters of foreign policy. To a greater extent, he protected the image of the United Kingdom by discouraging the military intervention to states such as Iraq. Being the member of the Labour Party, one would conclude that this was a success of the New Labour (Layard 2000).

The New Labour came to rectify the notion that William Hague had assumed with regards to the FCO. According to Hague, the FCO was outdated and was supposed to be taken to where it belongs. His assertions were interpreted to mean that FCO should operate the way it worked during the Victorian heydays. The fact is that things have changed significantly within the social, political, and economic aspects of life. The United Kingdom should have been no longer regarded as the powerhouse of Europe. Many nations have developed extremely. As a result, they now offer stiff competition to the United Kingdom in various areas. For instance, there are those nations that are now rivalling the United Kingdom in seeking the market for their industrial goods. In addition, there are some European nations, which have ventured in seeking allies among the Commonwealth states (Dandelion 2003, p.122).

This is the truth that William Hague has never embraced. However, the New Labour was aware of the realities that the United Kingdom faced. Thus, it advocated for better ways of seeking the relevance of the United Kingdom. Technological changes have been taking place as the years progressed. As stated in the previous paragraph, various countries have come up with new ways of communication. E-mails and websites have been developed; by using them, foreign policies have been promulgated while wooing the new allies. In that light, the New Labour advised that the United Kingdom should accept the realities instead of burying the head in the sand. Through such admissions, proper ways to counter the competitions emerging from upcoming countries can be forged. Moreover, according to Robin Cook (2004), admission of such realities would compel the government of the United Kingdom to find ways on how FCO can be used to ameliorate foreign relations of Britain.

In his speeches, William Hague addressed the issue of foreign policy to be limited to the United Kingdom; the United States; Iraq; and Commonwealth states. The relationship of these states was orchestrated by the FCO. Unfortunately, FCO failed to include the BRIC Powers. These are states such as India, China, Russia, and Brazil (Ashworth 2013). The United Kingdom concentrated on cementing the relations between non-BRIC powers at the expense of BRIC powers. This trend did not create a cordial diplomatic relationship between the United Kingdom and the BRIC powers. However, the New Labour has played a critical role in sparking off a diplomatic cohesion between the United Kingdom and the BRIC states. Today, there has been a milestone step as far as the foreign relations of the UK and BRIC powers are concerned. In fact, there have been various exchange programs between these states.

It should be noted that the New Labour made numerous amendments to the immigration system of the United Kingdom. The system was shifted from the strictest to the liberal one (Lee 2012). Despite the fact that there was little public demand for the liberalization of the immigration system, the New Labour introduced the changes on the premise of promoting the foreign relations of Britain. This move implied that people from other countries could get into the United Kingdom with less hustle. As a result, circulation of goods and services between the United Kingdom and other nations improved (Blanchflower & Bryson 2003). The labour movement appreciated the importance of liberalizing the immigration department as it was the only way that could attract allies from across the world. In the long run, the United Kingdom shall not only benefit from attracting talented labour from other states but also acquiring market for its industries.

Noteworthy, the New Labour remains one of the major turning points that affected the United Kingdom’s foreign affairs. New Labour has changed the manner, in which the FCO operated. Prior to the New Labour, the UK had used the FCO as a tool of maintaining its status quo. However, the New Labour challenged the United Kingdom Labour government to improve the activities executed by the FCO in bettering the foreign relations (Probert 2012). The issue of terrorism and environmental degradation had been a problem, which governments that had come before 1997 found hard to address. With the presence of the New Labour, the United Kingdom was convinced to embrace the value of uniting with other states to attack the global challenges such as terrorism and environmental degradation collectively. This has borne fruit since Britain has managed to get strong allies that have not only offered material support, but also the moral backup in the quest to address these global challenges. The national values and sense of identity that the United Kingdom harbours are attributed to the New Labour. As highlighted in the preceding paragraphs, Robin Cook was the brainchild of these two instrumental facets. As a result of this, the United Kingdom is perceived as a friendly state by many countries across the globe. The United Kingdom was accorded a chance to re-evaluate and re-invent itself after realizing that the country was no longer the traditional powerhouse of Europe. The New Labour served as a wake-up call to the United Kingdom (Vickers 2004, p. 56). The immigration sector that was extremely water-tight lessened its stands by allowing other nationals interact with the United Kingdom in matters of trade, technology, and education. Rentoul (2013) agrees that the New Labour has bolstered the UK economy. From the above-deductions, one would not fail to recognize the monolithic effort that the New Labour had been taking to the United Kingdom for more than a decade. Indeed, the New Labour that was spearheaded by the wishes and preferences of Gordon Brown, William Hague, and Tony Blair had improved the United Kingdom in all aspects. Above all, the Britain’s external relations have unquestionably been improved significantly.

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