London’s diplomatic corps has given a cautious thumbs up to Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s conference speech on Labour’s ‘Second Wave’ foreign policy. Mr Miliband admitted that some aspects of Britain’s foreign policy, notably over Iraq, had made the UK more unpopular globally.
A slim majority of respondents, 58%, indicated that drawing a line under the foreign policy of the Blair years would help to repair Britain’s damaged international reputation.
In particular, diplomats were positive about policies on proposed reform of multilateral structures to cope with global problems.
However, a significant 42% believed a more multilateralist approach, suggested by the ‘Second Wave’ foreign policy, would not be enough to make up for errors during the Blair years.
Analysing the responses by region, the results threw up some interesting differences of opinion.
Europeans are more positive,with 60% of envoys indicating that the new direction would improve Britain’s standing globally.
By contrast, respondents from Asian missions seem more pessimistic, with only 44% saying the new approach would make Britain more popular in their region.
One Asian diplomat commented: “We don’t think this will improve Britain’s reputation, in particular with Mr Miliband having no experience at all in modern diplomacy and international affairs. British foreign policy will decline.”
Meanwhile Embassy subscribers from the Americas and Africa appear to be divided down the middle, with 50% saying the policy direction would help restore Britain’s standing, and 50% saying the new approach was unlikely to have any effect.