Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Cameron a loud mouth?

David Cameron is in trouble with the former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, for being direct and clear in his speeches about foreign affairs.

First Cameron called Gaza an "open prison" and then he criticised elements of the Pakistan security services for aiding the UK's enemies in Afghanistan. Miliband described the PM as a "loud mouth" although he made no comment on the content of Cameron's speeches.

We know Miliband would never do such a thing. After all, his tour of duty was not known for either criticising the actions of the Israeli government, no matter how revolting, nor taking an open and honest stance on the Afghan situation - we didn't even need the recent leaks to know that.

Miliband's outburst attacking Cameron is in stark contrast to his mumbled and embarrassed comments during Israel's bombardment of Gaza that had to be wrung out of him, so reluctant was he to use the UK's clout for good.

During the Blair years the fact that business was always done behind closed doors was always made a virtue of so you'd see Blair claiming he was "influencing" Bush behind the scenes as the war machine pushed ever onwards unabated.

Various diplomats have rushed to Cameron's defence saying that direct language can be completely appropriate on the international stage, it's just we haven't seen much plain speaking for the last thirteen years. I think I agree.

For me a bit of honest speaking is just what we need to clear the air after years of manipulation and distrust. A large number of countries do not see the UK as an honest broker and that is unlikely to change if we continue with a Miliband style policy of half-truths, mumbling and blood.


Dawn F said...

Miliband has no right to criticise anyone for being open, since the torture revelations. I'm concerned that the occasional outburst of calculated frankness will be used to validate the usual behind doors decision-making we've grown used to, though.

Jim Jepps said...

We've yet to see if Cameron's foreign policy is actually going to be better than Labour's, so I'm going to with hold my blessing for now - but if this signals a more honest approach it will be a good thing.

If we must bomb people and steal their countries let's at least do as the Tory ministers are doing and say "this is about british interests" not democracy, women's rights or whatever. Honesty counts for a lot in my book.

What's interesting is that the Pakistan ISI has now cancelled a meeting in the UK because of this and some commentators are using this to say Cameron was wrong... it seems to me that if we want to address the role that (some) Pakistan forces are playing it will cause friction - but that's no reason not to do it.

It's not like Miliband's refusal to condemn the attack on Gaza didn't cause friction - in many ways it's who you choose to annoy.