Progressive Dilemmas

The Russia dilemma

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  21 March 2014

Britain’s political class did not distinguish itself in its immediate response to the Crimean crisis. A zoom lens outside Downing Street which captured Cabinet Office papers in the hands of an unguarded official seemed to reveal yet more evidence that the protection of the City trumps any other strategic instincts for this government. Labour, meanwhile, …

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Development dilemmas

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  20 February 2014

Over Labour’s 13 years in office, Britain’s reputation on international development was transformed. Instead of cutting aid, as our predecessors had done, we tripled it. Instead of subsidising British firms with it, we passed landmark legislation to make it illegal to spend aid on anything other than poverty reduction. Instead of subsuming it into the …

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After Afghanistan

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  16 January 2014

2014 is the last year of British military involvement in Afghanistan and the end of a long phase of ‘nation-building’ efforts since 9/11. While David Cameron has unconvincingly declared ‘mission accomplished’, in reality the next Labour government will wrestle with an agonising set of dilemmas about the UK’s future involvement in stabilising failed and failing …

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We need to talk about China

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  28 November 2013

A Chinese government that is more self-confident externally, more insecure internally, and in a more powerful geopolitical position than at any time since the 19th century poses perhaps the single greatest challenge to Britain’s ability to be a progressive force in the world. Yet China’s transition from object of western power to rival to it …

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The legitimacy dilemma

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  16 October 2013

Barack Obama’s hesitation, Vladimir Putin’s cunning and David Cameron’s parliamentary mismanagement combined to spare Labour from having to make a definitive choice about how the UK should respond to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.  Yet given the convulsions in the region and the current state of geopolitics, the dilemmas that Syria posed will …

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Labour and the ‘special relationship’

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  19 August 2013

No area of the last Labour government’s foreign policy created deeper divisions among progressives than Tony Blair’s willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with President Bush. How to use and maintain No 10’s privileged access to the White House was, in many ways, the defining decision of the Blair premiership. Prime Minister Miliband, however, will …

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The intervention dilemma

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  17 July 2013

‘We know why we were left to die. Because there are no resources in Rwanda. Only Rwandans.’ The speaker was a Rwandan politician we visited in 2006. A progressive approach to humanitarian intervention must begin with the desire to prove her wrong. If the left’s ideals of equality are to mean anything at all then …

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Progressive dilemmas for Labour on Europe

Kirsty McNeill and Andrew Small  |  21 June 2013

The Conservatives’ policy of self-marginalisation in Europe and their introduction of profound uncertainty about Britain’s continued EU membership leave any incoming Labour government in an invidious position.  As in 1997, the new government would benefit from a great deal of goodwill among European partners through sheer relief that EU policy is no longer being run …

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Foreign policy dilemmas for progressives

When the Labour party last took office in 1997, our foreign policy was heavily shaped in reaction to the moral and strategic failings of our Tory predecessors. In place of a cynical determination that ‘there is no such thing as the international community’, which left hundreds of thousands to be massacred in Bosnia and Rwanda, …

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