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Cardigan calls for Dept for International Development on energetic Falmouth visit
Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cardigan today spoke to a rally of members, journalists, and foreign and defence policy experts that had been courted by the party recently. He was speaking in Falmouth at the dockyard, and despite the December day being chilly with a small layer of snow, spoke outside.

In a typically energetic performance, Cardigan insisted on taking the press on a walkaround of the town, buying a hot chocolate from a local independent shop, and stopping to chat to residents with local Falmouth & Camborne Councillors.

“Good morning all, thanks for coming out here. I’m aware it’s a bit chilly, but gosh, isn’t Cornwall absolutely stunning? And here we are, at Falmouth Docks. At a time, where we are standing here, right now, was a centre of industry. Though those days are passed, it is still a place of work, and I am keen to be considerate to the hardworking fishermen out and about today - we shan’t take up too much space for too long, I hope! I also hope that we’ve all read our editions of the Countryside Code, seeing as we are here on the British riviera. If any one of you London lot litter, I’ll enforce it even speedier than the excellent Liberal-ran Council here!”

“This, though, as I said, was once a seat of real industry and commerce. Britain’s reach into the world was unparalleled. In the First World War, Falmouth Docks were vital in repairing ships that had been out fighting the Germans. Like so many parts of coastal Britain, though, Falmouth is also defined by an internationalism, and by being part of that rich, wide, global commerce, that defined us a seafaring nation. Putting the romantic lens down for one moment, though, it pains me to say that I fear, nowadays, as I have said many times, British influence is diminishing. Decreasing. We are neglecting not only our moral duty to intervene abroad where there is a clear humanitarian case, but our Government has let us down. I have been struck by one thing from the Foreign Office in recent times - a lack of strategy. Of vision. They see Britain’s role as firefighting where we’re pushed into intervening, or when it will play well in the polls. I have a very different vision for Britain, and I want to outline a key policy for making us the envy of the world abroad again.”

“That is why I am calling for the creation of a Department for International Development, totally separate to the Foreign Office, or the armed forces. The status quo isn’t working. Our duties abroad are being forgotten, or merged into one, and complicated, enormous tasks are slipping through the net, or being done half-heartedly. We have a stretched department. And, on a very basic level, diplomacy and aid are quite different fields of expertise, and often conflict. It can’t go on, and this lack of strategy needs to be remedied. That remedy, I believe, has to be at the roots - the revolving door of ministers in and out of this Government has not led to any real improvements. We will see real improvements once there is structural improvement. I believe that creating this new department, with separate clearly defined aims, with a budget set in stone and tied to GDP, and rooted in those British, Christian, moral values that we adhere to, we will do best. It is our duty to play a role in the world that the history books will look back on fondly. That our children will realise makes our nation different, and makes patriotism mean something. I want to outline my vision for this new Department not as a bit of technocratic tinkering, but as part of a far-sighted policy platform for a modern Britain abroad.”

“The new Department should be tied to GDP, by law, securely. That way it cannot be used as a political football or for posturing. The United Nations recommends 0.7% of GDP, but, frankly, I think that we should not just meet our expectations, but exceed them. Currently, we are nowhere near them. I want it legislated that we spend 1% of GDP on developing the world. We have always been more proactive abroad than other nations, it is, again, the nature of our seafaring, trading tradition. The Mother of Parliaments should make show her children some more love, and strengthen our links to the Commonwealth especially in doing so. The developing world is growing fast, but we need to be a guiding light, and friendly ally, in ensuring that that development is in the hands of democrats, not autocrats. I cannot think of a better way to ensure the longevity of our international alliances with friends in the Commonwealth and developing world than to have a strong, well-funded Department aimed at investing in the fights against world poverty, for green, sustainable energy, and to create education and opportunities in the poorest corners of our planet.”

“The clearly defined focus of the Department should be poverty reduction. The best way to do this is through building schools, investing in sustainable infrastructure, and ensuring that the Governments we are helping are doing so in the interests of building democracy. We are at a historic turning point - in Eastern Europe, much of the Commonwealth, and across the world, things could really go either way. We do not know if nations will fall to communism or autocracy at this period of uncertainty. Though we are uncertain, however, I think that people are hopeful. There is no better time for Britain to be a nation taking a lead, offering a hand of friendship, and being intimately involved in human development across the planet. And yes, for those who have seen me rallying for investment in our armed forces, we will have the means to back up our belief that democracy - not autocracy - is how we will create a freer, fairer, and better off world. As Roosevelt said - speak softly, and carry a big stick.

“One nation in particular that I want to talk to, and I want Britain to be the best ally of, is India. An utterly vast proportion of the world’s poor inhabit a nation that, in my lifetime, we governed. We did not govern India kindly, for the most part. It is a testament to the political will, kindness, and genuine far-sightedness of the Indian people that we are still considered a friend. I want that relationship to blossom. I am proud that our nation has such a large Indian diaspora, and I absolutely want us to be a country leading the way into a close alliance with what is, now, the largest democracy on the planet. We need to show the world that we mean business, that we will champion the reduction of poverty and building of schools internationally, and that we will help build flourishing democracies. I will be visiting India myself with a delegation of Liberal Democrat MPs to speak to our contemporaries in the Lok Sabha, and lead the way in Parliament in extending a clear hand of friendship. Gandhi spoke of Sarvodaya - to lift all in society up - that push for equality has not ended, and we need to be more active champions of the cause.”

“But yes, let me bring us back here, to this very dockyard. I have a real vision for Britain well beyond the white cliffs of Dover, and a real plan to do so - investing in our armed forces, putting real focus on international development, and having a real strategy. Beyond the rolling waves behind me, far beyond those fishermen’s boats, there are nations that may flourish as democracies, or may fall back into autocratic traditions. It is our duty as a nation to ensure that they head in the right direction. After all, when it comes to the spreading of freedom for all men, a rising tide lifts all ships."

Cardigan, bounding off the stage moments after applause finishes, headed straight for local press to give lines about how he felt the Liberal Democrats may very well win Falmouth & Camborne next election, and then was taken to visit some local businesses and fishermen.
The press are long since used to typically energetic performances from Cardigan and have taken to noting any new policy announcements should he end up holding the balance of power after the general election.

The speech goes down well with the audience Cardigan has chosen for this, with the foreign policy experts in particular noting how this is another instance of the Lib Dem leader espousing his knowledge and interest in foreign affairs. The rhetoric appeals to higher purposes and offers solutions for intricate policy issues that have tended to get little attention elsewhere.

1XP for Cardigan.
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