Femi Alese: Foreign policy could yet be the decisive factor on 6 May

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The Independent Online

Britain, a country with a huge budget deficit and at war on two fronts, will soon have the leaders of its three main political parties go head-to-head in three televised prime-ministerial debates.

As they hone their delivery skills and update knowledge on domestic concerns, it is the response to questions pertaining to foreign policy that will determine who's perceived victorious by viewers.

Revelations from the Chilcot inquiry, coupled with the neutral support from our closest ally, the US, over the recent Falklands debacle leave much to be desired about the special relationship. With the exceptions of Harold Wilson refusing to go to Vietnam with Lyndon Johnson, and Harold Macmillan chastising Kennedy over the reluctance to acknowledge our contribution to the creation of that good stuff known as the atomic bomb, the special relationship appears to be one-way traffic flowing against the tide on this side of the Atlantic. Consequently, the leaders must be asked if they're prepared to wreck anything left of this "specialty" by pledging to refuse to "pay a blood price" in any future wars between the US and Iran or any other countries.

If a forward move across the pond can't be agreed upon, a backward one should be possible. A turnaround in foreign policy terms confronts us with Europe. The Lisbon Treaty is not a settled position for followers of Ukip and the Conservatives, particularly in the West Country, and a large section of the population that stubbornly refuses to accept that their cities and country are located in Europe.

Consequently, the leaders must be asked whether, just like the Lisbon Treaty which allows a million nationals of the European Union to petition the European Commission to draft legislation in a given area for the purposes of implementing the Treaty, they would allow a review of the European Communities Act 1972 (that is, the "repealable" UK legislation which partially surrendered Britain's sovereignty to Europe) following a million petitions from significant parts of the United Kingdom.

We no longer own an empire, but those fabled acronyms – KBE, CBE, OBE and MBE – testify to its enduring power. Britain's role in the world is the under-estimated election issue.

Femi Alese is a Lecturer-in-Law at Aston University

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