This morning the discussion at Labour conference plenary is focusing on the place of Britain in the world. This is a delicate issue as it bothers foreign policy which includes important issues as defence, important development and aid.
During the 13 years of Labour government, it did not just make these issues important, it set them as priority sending a message to the world that Britain does not just care, it bears the burden of the world with it. Looking back at the record, it is disappointing that the one mistake of Iraq overshadowed all that was done and achieved. The issues are numerous and invaluable.
Iraq was a mistake and it is great that Labour has acknowledged that and ready to move on. Now is the time for the impression to be even up-stepped. From denouncing the sham rule in Burma to fighting for the cure of HIV across the world. From reaching for peace in the middle east, to debt relief for a lot of poor countries across the world. Labour must continue to show and take the lead. In opposition, this responsibility becomes even more expected than ever.
But there are still disappointments...
Human Rights interventions by Labour has to be increased. Like in the days of Labour government, the interventions were patchy and ignored some issues that mattered most: the issues of human dignity and safety. Across the world, many LGBT people are being oppressed and chased out of their country due to unfriendly climate and homophobic laws. Religion is still being giving priority over people’s lives and the effect this is having is utterly shameful; HIV prevention, women rights, political victimisation…
The Labour party in opposition must not just be a party for opposing cuts but a party that take the lead in developing alliances with the people that need them and supporting these causes. It must also put pressure on the coalition government to not drop the reputation of Britain by shying away from the existing successes but should speak seriously to countries identified as oppressing their citizens through denying their rights.
Labour must not be party to international relationships that turn a blind eye to oppression like in Nigeria, Jamaica, Gambia, etc where gay people are being drove out of their own homes.