The Conservative Party and Africa from opposition to government
Under David Cameron’s leadership from 2005 the Conservative Party embarked upon a campaign to rebrand the Party in the minds of voters. In the arena of international policy, a commitment to meet development spending targets and to maintain a separate Department for International Development marked significant shifts in Conservative approaches. Despite this, there is little analysis of the role of international development in rebranding, repositioning and redefining the Party. Even less attention has been paid to the particular role that Africa plays in these processes, in sharp contrast to extensive research on Africa’s role in relation to the self-identification and projected images of Labour Governments and leaders. This chapter begins to fill this gap. It analyses party documents, speeches by members of Cameron’s inner circle, and commentaries by Conservative media and the wider UK press to explore how Africa has featured in a narrative of change in relation to Conservative Party identity. In doing so it considers the role of Africa in defining a new Conservative identity as projected at three levels: within the Party, to potential voters and on an international stage.
Britain and Africa in the twenty-first century provides the first analysis of the state of UK Africa policy in the era of austerity, Conservative government and Brexit. It explores how Britain’s relationship with Africa has evolved since the days of Blair, Brown and Make Poverty History and examines how a changing UK political environment, and international context, has impacted upon this long-standing – and deeply complex – relationship. This edited collection provides an indispensable reference point for researchers and practitioners interested in contemporary UK–Africa relations and the broader place of Africa in British politics and foreign policy. Across twelve chapters, the book’s contributors examine how far UK Africa policy has been transformed since the fall of the 1997–2010 Labour Government and how far Conservative, or Conservative-led, Governments have reshaped and re-cast links with the continent. The book includes analyses of UK approaches to diplomacy, security, peacekeeping, trade and international development in, or with, Africa. The contributions, offered by UK- and Africa-based scholars and practitioners, nonetheless take a broader perspective on UK–Africa relations, examining the changing perspectives, policies and actions of political parties, advocacy groups and the UK population itself. The authors argue that the Afro-optimism of the Blair years no longer provides the guiding framework for UK engagement with Africa. It has not, however, been replaced by an alternative paradigm, leaving significant space for different forms of relationship to be built, or reconstructed. The book includes a foreword by Chi Onwurah MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa.
UK Africa policy in the twenty-first century: business as usual?
Danielle Beswick, Jonathan Fisher and Stephen R. Hurt
This chapter introduces, and sets out the rationale for, the edited collection, which examines the extent to which UKAfrica policy has taken on a distinctive character since the end of the New Labour era (1997–2010). The central argument advanced is that there is a need for scholars to explore the connections between different domestic and international drivers of UK Africa policy if they are to better understand the relationships between Britain and Africa, as well as the successes and failures of efforts to influence policy in this area. The chapter outlines the main areas of focus for the collection, and reviews and synthesises existing literature on the UK–Africa relationship. The authors situate the collection within three areas of inquiry: change and continuity in UK interests in Africa (instrumentalisation), power dynamics within UK–Africa relationships (agency) and the place of Africa in domestic UK politics (identity).
Danielle Beswick, Niheer Dasandi, David Hudson and Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson
This chapter examines how the images and representations used in fundraising appeals by international development non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have shaped UK public attitudes towards Africa, Africans and UK–Africa relations. Despite efforts at change, many charity appeals make widespread use of shocking images of African children, devoid of any broader context, in order to induce the viewer to donate. In doing so, they have helped produce a narrative around UK–Africa relations in which the UK public is cast as the ‘powerful giver’ and Africans are portrayed as ‘grateful receivers’. NGOs face a dilemma: negative representations allow organisations to raise funds that enable them to support vulnerable people in Africa and around the world; but they also negatively influence and shape attitudes of the British public towards poverty in Africa more generally. Through an analysis of a recent Oxfam campaign and reporting on new research using survey experiments, the chapter shows that by appealing to more positive emotions, such as hope and solidarity, NGOs can both raise funds for development work, and help to change the narrative around UK–Africa relations.
Danielle Beswick, Jonathan Fisher and Stephen R. Hurt
This chapter reviews and summarises the main findings of the collection and their implications for scholarship and policy. The chapter highlights some critical changes in emphasis in UK Africa policy since 2010, including divergences in emphasis and policy around trade across the three main UK political parties and a growing fracture in the 1997–2010 political consensus around UK development policy. In these cases, as with wider UK Africa policy, Brexit has represented a critical point of reference. The chapter also explores continuities in UK Africa policy since 1997 (and before), particularly in the realm of security and wider UK–Africa diplomacy. The chapter concludes by exploring the implications of the collection’s findings for understanding broader power dynamics in the UK–Africa relationship and for future policy itself.