Over September and October Rethinking Security attended three of the UK’s main political party conferences to get a sense of the opposition parties’ emerging priorities on security policy. We were also there to talk about the urgent need for an alternative approach as the parties looked to define their manifesto commitments ahead of an expected general election in 2024.
In late September we travelled to Bournemouth for the Liberal Democrats conference and staged our own fringe event to share some of the findings of our Alternative Security Review and to make the case for a Human Security Strategy. We found some resonance between some of the principles of human security, the party’s theme of a ‘Fair Deal for All’ and the emphasis in so many meetings on climate action. You can read Richard Reeve’s thoughts on how the Lib Dems should better embrace human security in a new blog post.
In early October we visited Brighton for the Green Party conference. Unsurprisingly, there was a heavy emphasis on the climate and ecological crisis and tackling growing economic precarity. While security policy was not a major theme at the conference, the party had already explicitly endorsed both a human security approach and Rethinking Security in its long overdue update of its Peace, Security and Defence Policy at its spring 2023 conference.
“The Green Party supports the broad concept of Human Security, meaning the security of people through sustainable development, not arms; through cooperation, not confrontation. We support cooperative working among states and NGO’s to address the growing security threats posed by the Climate and Ecological Emergency. To this end we support the Hague Declaration on Planetary Security and Rethinking Security.”Green Party of England and Wales, PSD401, March 2023.
Finally, we were also at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. While Keir Starmer and his shadow defence and foreign affairs secretaries preceded the conference with tours of the United States, Canada and France to stress their commitment to status quo approaches to defence and security, there was again a major emphasis at conference on green issues and what Rachel Reeves has termed ‘securonomics’. You can read Larry Attree’s analysis of the direction of Labour’s foreign and security thinking in a blog post from September.
We look forward to continuing to engage with the government and all opposition parties in the run-up to the next election and the very likely event that a new national security review follows it in 2025.