The role of the Commonwealth

Thursday 1st December 2011

In 1992, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, US State Department official Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History. Nearly twenty years on, Fukuyama’s contentions remain as misguided as they were in 1992.

Although the United States continues to be the preeminent power in the world, it does not stand alone on the international stage. Russia is gradually reclaiming its lost superpower status while India and China are clamouring for greater global influence.

With a changing geopolitical landscape, the potential role of the Commonwealth of Nations is often forgotten or sidelined. Yet with a population of over two billion people and which boasts two of the world’s leading economies–Britain’s and India’s–the Commonwealth has the capacity to play a far greater role in world affairs than it currently does.

The spotlight of the December issue of Politics First explores what role the Commonwealth has the potential to play in world affairs. Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Max Everest-Phillips, Amitav Banerji and Naveed Somani discuss the results of the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth and what steps need to be taken in order for the Commonwealth to begin the process of realising its potential.

In an exclusive interview, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi talks about the launch in Bangladesh of ‘Project Maya’ and how social actions programmes have played an important role in rebranding the Conservative Party. Quentin Letts makes his debut as a columnist by warning of the dangers of embracing youth in politics while Jon Craig considers what might lie in store for the parties as a result of boundary changes.

The effectiveness of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a rapidly changing world is discussed by Richard Ottaway, and Sir Alan Beith looks at the increasing role of select committees in government accountability. Means testing in police stations and telephone gateways are two areas that the Ministry of Justice needs to change its approach to, argues the Law Society, while House of Lords reform is analysed by Lord Philip Norton, Baroness Dianne Hayter and Lord Paul Tyler.

The West End’s showing of If Chloe Can, the brainchild of Esther McVery, is reviewed by Keith Richmond who notes its inspirational message to teenage girls up and down the country.

The next issue of Politics First will be the January/February one so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and a very happy New Year, and to thank you again for your continuing support.

Dr Marcus Papadopoulos, Publisher / Editor, Politics First