Leading on Africa

It is pleasing to see Gordon Brown taking a vocal stand against the Mugabe regime. He is refusing to attend an EU summit on Africa if Robert Mugabe’s travel ban is waived.

Some might say that Brown is not so much throwing down the gauntlet, as throwing his dummy out of the pram. However, when it comes to summits with the Zimbabwean president, the Labour government has an awkward record. Our history of leadership in this area is generally poor, so I think the Prime Minister’s gesture politics are right on this occasion.

There have been plenty of discussions recently regarding strength of our democracy, and how we increasingly distrust our politicians. Much of the disillusionment comes when they fail to lead, and fail to stand up for what the voters believe is right. I reckon the Prime Minister’s position is in line with what most British people think, so I will not be surprised if his ‘positives‘ rise further as a consequence of this action.

A strong leadership stance is required regarding our relationships elsewhere in Africa. Malawian Presidential candidate Friday Jumbe has protested at Jack McConnell’s appointment as the next High Commissioner to Malawi… because McConnell has a record of support for gay rights. To my mind, the course of action for Gordon Brown on this issue is clear. He should emphasise that Jack McConnell’s values match those of the Labour government, and it is therefore an entirely appropriate that he should act as an ambassador. If you don’t want Jack, then you’re not getting anyone.

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