May 28, 2001
Although Iím weirdly confident that the Conservatives will claw back a significant amount of seats at the next election, despite what the polls say, I still donít think that they could win it. In the next ten days it is very unlikely, although always possible, that some nemesis could come in early. A currency crisis for the Euro, a stock market crash and an uprising of our allies in the Kosovo Liberation Army all seem likely in the next year and a half not the next week and a half. In the spirit of this, I have written a manifesto for the Conservative Party in opposition. I doubt that any of my readers will endorse this wish list completely, but on foreign affairs, we simply need a rethink.
Defence and foreign affairs rarely get the pace beating, but the Conservative Party regards them as vital for the continuing health of the United Kingdom. The British public suffers through higher taxes, greater insecurity and greater European regulation. In short, Britain needs to govern herself again.
The most important area of foreign policy today is our relationship with the European Union. While we recognise that our old slogan "In Europe, not run by Europe" represented the feelings of the vast majority of British people we have to come to terms with the fact that this is simply not on offer. The Conservative Party refuses to use baby language and to make unrealisable promises. The choice is now "In Europe OR not run by Europe" and unlike the other two main parties, we will not betray our countryís interests. Britain will have to withdraw from the European Union as amicably as possible.
The Conservative Party has always had fond feelings for America, and will continue to nurture those feelings. However, we do not think that these feelings necessitate a slavish devotion to every mission the United States wishes to involve itself. A Conservative government will politely ask the United States government to withdraw all servicemen from the British Isles. We are confident that as a civilised power the United States will agree. We will always remember the sacrifices that America made during the Second World War and the Cold War, but it is now time to realise the ideal that troops under a foreign command should not be stationed on British soil.
The Conservative Party has historically been the party of empire, and we believe at the time that this was a necessary and civilising thing. A Conservative realises that different solutions are needed to different problems. Britain needs to withdraw from the remnants of her empire, and a Conservative government will try to reach agreement on the gradual withdraw from all non-European possessions in the first three years of a Conservative government.
Few people doubt that Britainís armed forces are in a deplorable state. The primary reason for this has not been the lack of resources poured into the armed forces, but the lack of thinking behind what purpose the armed forces are supposed to serve. We Conservatives believe that the armed forces are primarily, indeed solely, for the protection of British territory. To realise this within a year we will be withdrawing troops from the former Yugoslavia, Germany, the Middle East, Africa and Belize. All other troop deployments abroad will be reviewed. Defence spending that is aimed at increasing the "reach" of the armed forces will be diverted to improving the depth of defence around the United Kingdom.
Britain has always seen her membership of the "nuclear club" to be a symbol of her importance within the community of nations. This membership is a sham. Britainís nuclear deterrent is in fact reliant on much American technology, not least the geo-positioning technology that is necessary to deliver the nuclear weapons to their targets. A Conservative government will remedy this. It is sadly necessary, as the aggression against Serbia showed, to have an independent nuclear deterrent if you are to be in any meaningful way self-governing. Only a Conservative government can be trusted to see beyond the anti-nuclear mindset of New Labour. On the issue of Missile Defence, we do not think that Britain should host American listening stations until such a time that America can guarantee that it can lessen rather than increase the danger of a missile attack.
The protection of the British Isles will involve the British population. Firstly, we propose to reinvigorate the Territorial Army. We also propose that the TA go back to its traditional role as a "home guard" rather than the specialised reserve that it is at the moment. We also recognise that a well-armed nation is one that it is almost impossible to invade, and we therefore will be embarking on a significant liberalisation of the laws on handgun ownership. Similarly, the fishing fleet plays a vital part in the defence of an island, and we will as a matter of national security take severe action against those who plunder British waters.
Foreign Aid is a method of redistributing wealth from the poor people in rich countries to the rich people in poor countries. We will leave foreign aid to voluntary charities.
The Conservative Party, since the Second World War, has been the political friend of free trade. Free trade is not the same as the managed trade system that we have at present. The Conservative Party will unilaterally abolish tariff barriers and other restrictions on goods and services from wherever they come from. The best way to improve the living standards of the British people is by lowering their cost of living, now.
It will take many years to disentangle from the myriad international associations that we have joined. The most malicious of all of these is the European Union, from which we must leave immediately. We will prioritise the other associations to leave from the amount of interference they think they can exercise over democratic British decision making. If the United Nations decides to question our immigration policy, or the World Trade Organisation questions our views on free trade we will simply leave those bodies.
Britain has some of the most resourceful people in the world. The British ruling class has let the people down by spending on unneeded foreign adventures and succumbing to foreign interference. If the Conservatives are elected, we will repay your trust in us by making the United Kingdom an independent country again.
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