| ||David Wearing (pictured), graduate student in political science at UCL, contributes an article to the Guardian's Comment is Free section on UK foreign policy making and its democratic deficit. He writes: |
'In February 2003, more than 90% of Britons opposed Tony Blair's government joining the invasion of Iraq in the absence of a second UN resolution. As we know, the invasion went ahead the following month without such a resolution being passed.
'Three years later, 63% thought Blair had tied Britain too closely to the Bush White House. In the same poll, 61% opposed the assault on Lebanon that Israel was undertaking at that time – an assault that was nevertheless effectively supported by Britain.
'At present, both main parties plan to renew the Trident nuclear system, despite opposition from 63% of voters. Fifty-four per cent of Britons express support for the rule of international law yet, last week, Gordon Brown's government began discussing "safeguards" to exempt suspected war criminals from the reach of British courts.'
'...the disproportionate influence of wealth over policymakers is not a difficult concept to understand. Wealth is power. It buys lobbying consultants, concentrates the minds of politicians in need of campaign donations, owns most of the media and is generally well-placed to make life easy or difficult for government depending to what extent its needs are being met.
'...Locating power and mapping influence with real precision is a complex task in relatively open societies like Britain's, and this article provides just a snapshot. Nevertheless, evidence of a serious democratic deficit in British foreign policy is reasonably clear. What remains then for the public is a choice: accept marginalisation, or use our political freedoms to change the balance of power.'
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