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Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the evolution of the Labour Party. It contends that internationalism is the overriding principle upon which Labour's foreign policy has been based. This internationalism emphasised six key issues. These include the possibility of reforming international relations through the establishment of international institutions, the commitment of states to an international community, and the formulation of international policy based on democratic principles and universal moral norms. This chapter suggests that the conflict among these principles and their openness to a range of interpretations in terms of policy solutions to particular problems caused the party severe and recurring intra-party conflict over its foreign policy.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
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Rhiannon Vickers

This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this book, which is about the history and evolution of the foreign policy of the Labour Party from 1951 to the present. The book argues that Labour did seek to offer an alternative to the traditional power politics or realist approach of British foreign policy, which had stressed national self-interest, and to provide a version of British foreign policy based on internationalism, which stressed co-operation and interdependence, and a concern with the international as well as the national interest. It also investigates why Labour sought a reformist rather than a radical or revolutionary approach to foreign policy.

in The Labour Party and the world
Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter identifies policies that reflect the six core beliefs at the heart of the Labour Party's foreign policy, which arise from its fundamental internationalist approach to international relations. These include the belief that fundamental reform of the system is possible because states have common interests and values, that international policy and governance should be based on democratic principles and universal moral norms, and that armaments and arms races can destabilise the international system. The chapter also discusses the socialist aspects of Labour's international thought, which are a belief in international working-class solidarity, and a concern to improve working conditions and alleviate poverty.

in The Labour Party and the world
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New conflicts, rearmament and the bomb
Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter focuses on the foreign policy of the Labour Party during the opposition years of the 1950s. During this period, Labour became increasingly divided over the issues of rearmament, nuclear weapons and Great Britain's role in the world, and there was a clear split between left and right. While the right of the party, led by Hugh Gaitskell, were pushing the party along traditional foreign and defence lines, those on the left wanted the party to take an ethical stance and provide moral leadership by renouncing nuclear weapons altogether. Despite this, the party won the 1964 general election with a manifesto largely based on its late 1950s policies.

in The Labour Party and the world
Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter examines the foreign policy of the Labour Party under Harold Wilson as party leader and as British Prime Minister. It explains that, despite Wilson's unsuccessful bid to join the European Community, the withdrawal of British troops from east of the Suez Canal and the economic decline of Great Britain, Wilson continued to present himself as a player on the world stage. The chapter discusses Wilson's position on the Vietnam War and highlights his attachment to Britain's world role and its imperial legacy.

in The Labour Party and the world
Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter focuses on the foreign and defence policy of the Labour Party during the 1970s. During this time, the party's political programme moved to the left in an attempt to recuperate its base inside the trade unions and reconnect with the constituency parties. The party became united in condemning the ongoing Vietnamese conflict and urging the withdrawal of American forces, in advocating for the dissolution of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the closure of nuclear bases and the rejection of a British defence policy based on the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. The chapter also discusses the party's commitment to bolstering the Anglo-American relationship and to strengthening Britain's nuclear deterrent.

in The Labour Party and the world
Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter examines the radicalisation of the Labour Party's foreign and defence policy in the 1980s with the détente and the deepening of the Cold War. During this time, foreign and defence policy became a political battleground when the Conservative Party moved to the right while Labour to the left. Though Labour's shift to the left on foreign and defence policy did the party immense harm electorally, it left the party better prepared to deal with the immense changes in the international system at the turn of the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War. Labour was well placed to accept the new tenets of globalisation in the 1990s and to deal with the rise in transnational issues that was a concomitant part of international relations at the end of the twentieth century.

in The Labour Party and the world
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Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter deals with the foreign policy of the Labour Party under the governments of Prime Minister Tony Blair. It comments on Robin Cook's mission statement concerning an ethical dimension to foreign policy and analyses Blair's response to the Kosovo crisis, Great Britain's role in Europe, and an assessment of international development and aid policy. The chapter also describes the key changes in the New Labour's first administration, which include a shift away from a more traditional balance of power approach to British foreign policy to a more internationalist stance, an opening up of both the foreign policy-making processes and institutional structures to wider involvement from non-governmental organisations and the public, and a broadening of the definition of foreign policy to give a greater prominence to transnational issues.

in The Labour Party and the world
Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter examines the foreign policy of the Labour Party in the twenty-first century. It describes Great Britain's role in the war on terror, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the way in which Tony Blair staked his legacy on the way that his government responded to a disordered world. The chapter contrasts Blair's strategy with Gordon Brown's more risk-averse approach to foreign affairs, and suggests that one of the defining features of Brown's approach to foreign policy was that he tended to say very little about it.

in The Labour Party and the world
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Rhiannon Vickers

This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the history and evolution of the foreign policy of the Labour Party from 1951 to the present. The result indicates that the ideas at the heart of Labour's foreign policy at the end of the twentieth century had their antecedents in the ideas put forward by the various groups that made up the Labour Party at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Labour Party always believed that domestic and international politics were part of a whole which could not be treated as mutually exclusive, and this is why it has tried to rethink the nature of British foreign policy. However, Labour never really came to an ideological agreement over how to be internationalist within an international system dominated by nation-states. Thus, the tension between national sovereignty and internationalism lay behind many of the battles over its foreign policy.

in The Labour Party and the world