This recovery-time election has focused thus far on building, protecting, sustaining and stability. So what do the three largest parties believe matter when it comes to the somewhat scarier – and bigger – business of globalisation?Global forces were widely blamed for the economic downturn. At the G20 summit last year Gordon Brown called the recession “the first crisis of the age of globalisation.” How have the different parties responded to the inevitable interdependence of a globalised world, at a time when voters want stability and control?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labour offers the most positive view of Britain’s role within the world. “The global financial crisis has demonstrated more clearly than ever the interconnected nature of the world we now live in.” Britain, they argue, needs to remain open to co-operation, particularly in developing the European Union, where Britain should remain “at the heart”.
Again, reflecting on the recession, Labour promise “international unity [in the face of common] problems”, believing that an integrated world can become an altogether better one, not just as a consequence of free markets, but through actively “shap[ing] a truly global society”
The three main international policy concerns of The Conservative Party are “global competitiveness, global poverty and global warming” however in terms of detailed approaches, the issue most developed is that of Britain’s position within the European Union. The primary concern is that of protecting Britain’s control over legislation.
Continuing from this, the party states that they would “never allow Britain to slide into a federal Europe,” and promise to introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill as a direct reaction to the passing of the Lisbon Treaty. They go on to promise negotiations on a series of opt outs, including the restoration of national control over social and employment legislation.
Similar to Labour, the Lib Dems make clear tthat the next Government must embrace co-operation in an interdependent world. “Big issues like the economic crisis, climate change and cross border crime cannot be tackled by any country on its own.”
Again, the European Union is the focus of their views – they believe that membership of the EU remains vital if Britain is to reap the benefits of globalisation, and they say “that the next government will have a much greater influence on the world stage” working within a strong Europe. Therefore it is of primary importance for the country’s place in the world that “Britain [lead] in Europe, not snipe on the sidelines like the Conservatives would wish”.
What’s the issue?
We can expect some heated debate in the next few weeks, particularly on the tricky issue of where the next government will place Britain within the European Union, and whether the EU is a good or bad thing for the country. All parties are trying to present an offer of stable recovery and growth, but this can only be achieved in the context of global economic forces, and will need well thought out strategies to ensure Britain can play the right role within an interdependent world.
Have all the parties really thought through and made clear there views on a globalised world? Prospective governments aim to look strong and in control, but it is important to note that Britain, or any country, cannot be completely autonomous anymore. Globalisation as a concept brings together aid, development, foreign policy, the EU and the economy. In this election campaign, it must be allowed time for thorough debate.