LibLink … Tim Farron: The Conservatives are underplaying our hand in Europe

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsJust before conference Tim Farron posted on Huffington Post on a totally different subject – Conservative foreign policy.

He writes:

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the deterioration of human rights in Russia should be a key concern of all our political parties. If we are to stem the violence in Ukraine, we need a strong and united Europe, as much as we need wise thinking from the US and other players. But I am concerned that the Conservative leadership is crippled by an overblown and insecure fear of Ukip. We are punching below our weight in Europe. Cameron is in danger of putting party politics above peace in Ukraine and Europe – and our national interests.

He goes on:

In this context, the Tories’ absence from negotiations in Minsk and Moscow is worrying. While Hollande and Merkel were meeting in Minsk, Hammond was in Malta. To be fair, you could argue that the UK’s absence is tactful, given unresolved problems such as Alexander Litvinenko’s death. Was this an attempt to play good cop/bad cop?

Regardless, the consequence (and it should have been foreseen if it wasn’t) is that the Conservatives are taking Britain to the margins. The ex-Nato commander Sir Richard Shirreff’s observation of Cameron is damning: “Nobody is taking any notice of him. He is now a foreign policy irrelevance.”

The Conservatives’ foreign policy isn’t foreign, it’s not even domestic – it’s electioneering skewed by Ukip’s populism. That is not leadership and it undermines our diplomatic efforts. So Hammond meets with the Hungarian PM to discuss EU reform and refers to it as a “meeting of like minds” – the same president who cosies up to Russia and has broken an EU wide ban on bilateral meetings with Russia.

You can read the whole article here.

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11 Comments

  • The crisis on Russia’s borders are a direct consequence of the bungling, incompetent EU policy of arrogant expansionism. The EU poured millions of EU taxpayers’ money into former Soviet states such as the Ukraine in order to make the population eager to join the EU for more generous handouts.

    Putin, suspicious of the West at the best of times, saw the EU expansionism into his East-West buffer zone as a direct threat. He knows that the EU has ambitions to be a huge country. It already has its disastrous foreign policy and ambitions to have its own army, but in the meantime it has NATO. Putin does not wish to see Nato missiles deployed along the Russian border.

    The EU poked the unstable Russian bear with a large, sharp stick and now has the hypocrisy to adopt the higher moral ground.

    This is what happens when you create a false state run by incompetent, unelected bureaucrats.

  • I would only add one extra point to Peter’s excellent analysis of what happened in Ukraine 12 months ago. The EU created the ‘tinderbox’ in Ukraine, and Washington, by their agency Victoria Nuland, *intentionally* created the ‘spark’ to set it off. Why?
    It’s time we started to see a bigger picture and ask some searching questions, ‘Why is Washington determined to have a war in the centre of Eastern Europe’?
    Who benefits?

  • The idea that it is right for Ukraine to suffer Russian empirialism purely because the people turned decisively towards liberal values is one which should be met with derision on any liberal website. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not about the European Union and is certainly not about the United States – it is about Russia attempting to protect a sphere of colonial style influence over peoples who are no longer prepared to accept foreign domination.

    It’s impossible to tell from “Putin’s commentariat” posts above whether you’re from the extreme left or extreme right of British politics, and if nothing else it is testament to Putin being cleverer than the European fringe political beliefs to have got so many formerly sworn pseudo-fascist, communist and plain xenophobic forces on his side.

    I have to welcome Tim taking an interest in Foreign policy. Not many of our MPs or indeed MPs from any other party seem to particularly care or even be informed at the moment.

  • I refer to the post timed at 9:55pm by a commenter who has used the same name as me. I am the author of the first comment.

    You say that I think it is right for the Ukraine to suffer Russian imperialism. I never said that. The Russian actions are totally unacceptable. However, they were quite predictable and understandable, given our knowledge of Putin.

    The EU with its breath taking disregard for the consequences of its actions pursued a policy of acquiring all the former Soviet states. It was very clear that Putin would be goaded into taking retaliatory action and it is a measure of EU incompetence that they did not see this coming.

    Whether I am from the extreme left or extreme right has absolutely no bearing on the facts of this matter and I have no idea why you felt it necessary to bring this into your comment.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 17th Mar ’15 – 9:09am
    “…a more defining nom-de-plume. I thought I had one using using my first name and surname, but was miffed to find that I shared them with the Tory agent in GLA elections and that here on LDV someone using the same name posted opinions contrary to mine ..,”

    Ian, I recognise your problem.

    I am not from Kentucky —
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tilley_(Kentucky_politician)

    Nor am I the John Tilley MP who stood against Simon Hughes in Bermondsey —
    http://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/dec/23/guardianobituaries.politics

    As far as I am aware I am not even related to John Tilley the Pilgrim who sailed on The Mayflower to The New World —
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=john+tilley+mayflower&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

    But in the words of the football song —

    “ONE TIM FARRON, there’s only one Tim Farron, one Tim Farron, there’s only one Tim Farron ! ”

    That is the Tim Farron who has a rather better grip of and knowledge of Foreign Affairs in 2015 than an aged and nowadays slightly forgetful former SBS chap whose opinions of foreign affairs were forged when he was burying the family guns in Hong Kong some 5 decades ago.

  • Perhaps, Peter2 and others blaming Russia for the Ukraine situation might care to expand on a situation where a high ranking Russian minister was taped discussing the overthrow of the elected president of Mexico and replacing him with an “acceptable” protégé?

  • “The majority of the public polled last month by Chatham House think the UK should aspire to be a ‘great power’ rather than accept that it is in decline.” [Source: Huffington Post, see link in article]

    It would be interesting to know what Tim has in mind. Obvious queries are: does he support Britain’s nuclear deterrent and Trident; the building of two new aircraft carriers etc.. This isn’t to belittle Tim, but I would like to think he has a more concrete example of what he means in practise by these words. Because yes, I remember thinking when Britain, well David Owen and then Paddy Ashdown and others , got involved in the political resolution of the civil wars in former Eastern Europe, that this was a good example of leadership and possibly the exercise of ‘great power’.

  • jedibeeftrix 17th Mar '15 - 9:06pm

    2.0% of GDP to enable our activist foreign policy in future?

  • Helen Dudden 18th Mar '15 - 4:16pm

    The EU has never performed to it’s best. I have consulted on the Brussels 11a and I wondered does it do any good?

    Housing, jobless, crime, human rights, there is more that could be done.

    I would have thought there was a huge bank of expertise with those who have joined, but I have seen little to prove its worth in real terms, no wonder there is talk of a referendum, I think time for a little truth.

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