JOHN HUMPHRYS: But first, there's been
a flurry of diplomatic activity this week. The government has agreed to
sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his henchmen in Zimbabwe. The Foreign
Secretary has spelled out how he thinks the ambitions of the European Union
should be limited. And the row rumbles on over the future of Gibraltar
and Britain's negotiations with Spain. Might there be a curious sort of
link between all three? Well, if you look at the Conservative Party's
approach to each of them, you may find they're remarkably similar to Labour's.
What's going on here? Well, the Shadow Foreign Secretary (and deputy leader
of the Conservative Party) is Michael Ancram.
Good afternoon Mr Ancram.
MICHAEL ANCRAM MP: Good afternoon.
HUMPHRYS: Good week in a sense
isn't it. I mean here we've got the government, British government and
the European Union on Zimbabwe agreeing to implement precisely the sorts
of sanctions that you have been suggesting that they should. There is a
sort of link here isn't there.
ANCRAM: Well there's a link
but only in the sense that I asked for these sanctions to be at least threatened,
if not imposed, three months' ago when they might have had greater effective
in ensuring that there was a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. I wanted
to see them imposed before voter registration took place, before the levels
of intimidation which have driven people out of constituencies was allowed
to happen, but you know, I suppose better late than never. But what we've
got to make sure now, is that Mr Mugabe realises even at this late date,
that if the elections are not free and fair, then this isn't a short two
week sanction campaign, but the pressure will continue on him until something
is done about his regime.
HUMPHRYS: Well, we heard the opposition
leader in Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai saying this morning, it should have
happened, they should have happened six months' ago and the elections cannot
now - cannot be free and fair given everything that's happened. Do you
agree with that?
ANCRAM: I think that's probably
right. I mean certainly Francis Maude my predecessor was calling for these
sanctions a year ago and I think it's quite extraordinary that we've had
this unforgivable dithering since then, being told that these sanctions
were inappropriate and then suddenly finding with three weeks to go before
the election that they are imposed. But what I think is important, is if
we are going to see elections which are not free and fair, if we are going
to see the continued imposition of what I believe is a fascist state in
that part of Southern Africa, then we have to make it absolutely clear
that that is unacceptable, unacceptable within Southern Africa, unacceptable
to the international community as well. I would like to see an international
coalition come together now, which will make it clear to President Mugabe
that his type of regime and his type of behaviour simply will not be tolerated.
HUMPHRYS: So for a start, given
that there's no way these elections are going to be free and fair, we should
not be, Britain in particular since the rest of the Commonwealth will do
what it wishes to do of course, but we should not be welcoming Robert Mugabe
at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting next week?
ANCRAM: I think given what he's
doing at the moment, I think that's absolutely right. I think he must be
made to understand that if he continues with the sort of behaviour that
he's been pursuing, then he is going to become an international pariah
in terms of the way that other countries deal with him. The whole idea
of targeted sanctions is to bring it home personally to him and personalities
within his regime that you cannot dismantle democracy in the way that he's
doing. You can't get rid of press freedom, you can't treat your political
opponents by detaining them, by torturing them, in some cases by murdering
them and get away with it. And that's the message that he must get loud
and clear from every quarter now.
HUMPHRYS: So, if he tries to go
to that meeting and of course there's no guarantee that he will, they reckon
it's about fifty/fifty, the meeting in Australia, the Heads of Government
meeting, what should we do? Should we try to stop him, or if he does go,
should we snub him or what? - what should we do?
ANCRAM: Well, I hope if he does
go that he will be firmly snubbed but this is again a test of the Commonwealth.
I was very disappointed the other day that the Commonwealth decided or
the CMAG decided not to...
HUMPHRYS: CMAG - you'll have to
ANCRAM: That's the management group
within the Commonwealth, they met the other day in London and Jack Straw
again, very belatedly asked them to consider expelling Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth and they decided not to do so. I was very disappointed in
that, I think it gave totally the wrong message to Mr Mugabe. I would like
to see the Commonwealth now showing that they have got teeth, that they
are prepared to deal with the sort of behaviour that we are seeing from
President Mugabe in Zimbabwe as part of the Commonwealth, that they will
make it clear that he is no longer welcome at their table.
HUMPHRYS: And as far as expelling
him, it seems unlikely, the Commonwealth has already made it clear what
it thinks about that, bearing in mind how many African members there are,
it's not going to expel him. In that event, given that..well you may
disagree with that, but let me just finish the question if I may, in that
event, what sort of unilateral action could this country take?
ANCRAM: I don't think it's a question
of unilateral action. I think what we have to see now is the building of
a coalition which would include obviously the United States, would include
I hope, the European Union as well, ourselves and ideally also the countries
around Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, to make it clear to Mr Mugabe that
he cannot continue down the path that he has set himself. We are now seeing
very frightening signs that he is putting his country in hock to President
Gaddafi in Libya. There are all the signs that this could be an incipient
rogue state which will bring all sorts of dire consequences, not just to
Southern Africa but more internationally as well. The International Community
has to come together now to make it quite clear that they are prepared
to take action if necessary to stop this happening.
HUMPHRYS: But what kind of action.
I mean we are not talking here about military action, I mean obviously
Washington is prepared to talk about military action with regard to other
countries but you wouldn't countenance something like that would you. I
mean, obviously we can withdraw recognition of Zimbabwe but what else,
withdrawn recognition again, he'll probably just shrug his shoulders and
say 'you know they are just colonialists, what the hell'.
ANCRAM: Well, I think it's very
important to remember, Zimbabwe is a land locked country, there are many
things that can be done to Zimbabwe to make it realise it is dependent
on its neighbours....
HUMPHRYS: Well, we did it to Ian
Smith didn't we?
ANCRAM: Yes, absolutely, but I
mean what you need to make sure is that if you are going to use that type
of action, it has to be consistent and it has to be water tight. I've talked
to countries around Zimbabwe, particularly the Foreign Minister of Botswana
when he was in London the other day, he made it clear to me they are very
concerned by what's happening in Zimbabwe, it's effecting their economy,
if there really was a breakdown of law and order in Zimbabwe then they
would be flooded by refugees from Zimbabwe and so would South Africa, the
Rand is under severe pressure because of what's happening. There are all
the reasons there for making sure that swift action is taken, firm action
is taken and that Mr Mugabe's regime is not allowed to continue in the
way it is at the moment.
HUMPHRYS: So there is argument
then, you think for effectively blockading Zimbabwe in the way we did when
it was Rhodesia and Ian Smith declared UDI?
ANCRAM: I don't think we should
rule anything in or anything out. What we have to do is to make sure that
Mr Mugabe knows that he can no longer get away with what he's been doing.
My concern over the last six months has been that we've talked tough and
then done nothing. But we kept on making noises, like Tony Blair talked
about not tolerating Mr Mugabe and his henchmen's behaviour last year at
the Labour Party Conference. And I think we do have to make it absolutely
clear that from now on we mean business, that what we say we're going to
do we do, and that he can't get away with it.
HUMPHRYS: I don't know whether
you can still hear me alright, are you alright with that ear-piece? I'll
give you just a second to try and fit it back in.
ANCRAM: I think it's pretty well
back in. I can hear you.
HUMPHRYS: Good alright, it's always
a pain when they come out. But military, you said you wouldn't rule anything
in and anything out. Presumably you would rule out some sort of military
intervention, or would you not?
HUMPHRYS: Well, I think you have
to look at all the options. It may well be in the interest of countries
in Southern Africa to take action which it might be more difficult for
the international community at a greater distance to take, but when you
do build an international coalition the important thing, as we've learnt
over the last six months, is to look at all the options, to have all the
options available and to use those which are going to be most effective
in achieving your objective. I heard you talking earlier about Iraq and
what might happen there. Exactly the same criteria apply in that area as
well as I believe apply in Zimbabwe.
HUMPHRYS: Alright, let's turn from
Zimbabwe to Gibraltar. Now you seem to think - your party seems to think
it's outrageous that the British government should be negotiating with
Gibraltar over - with Spain over a degree of sovereignty, over the issue
of British sovereignty and yet you, your party actually instigated this
whole process didn't you. I mean you began it, what was it called, the
1984 Brussels process. I've been reading a bit of history this morning.
You can hardly whinge about it now when you set it all up!
ANCRAM: I'm not whinging about
the process, I'm whinging about what I believe the government is doing
with the process. What concerns me at the moment is it appears that almost
a deal has been done already with the Spanish government to come to an
agreement to share sovereignty over the rock, and then if the people of
Gibraltar vote against that, to have that agreement if you like on the
shelf, hanging over the people of Gibraltar like a sword of Damocles.
I believe that that is a very dangerous route to take. I think that as
we learnt in Northern Ireland, if you're going to get an agreement to stick
you have to make sure that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed
in a proper referendum. The idea that you can have if you like, a sort
of a side agreement between the ....between the Spanish government and
the British government about sovereignty, I think that undermines not only
the whole basis of the - what's known as the Brussels process, but also
betrays the interests of people in Gibraltar who, I think we owe our loyalty
to them, they've been very loyal to us in the past, we must make sure at
least we play fair by them.
HUMPHRYS: But do you really think
that is what the government is proposing, some sort of side agreement,
some sort of selling out of the people of Gibraltar?
ANCRAM: It's not what I think,
they've effectively admitted that they are working towards an agreement
with the Spanish government and that if that agreement is not endorsed
by the people of Gibraltar they will nevertheless have that there on the
side to be returned to in the future if necessary.
ANCRAM: Now, I think that undermines
the whole concept of a democratic and free decision being taken by the
people of Gibraltar, which is what after all we promised them.
HUMPHRYS: Well, let me quote you
what Baroness Symons, Foreign Office Minister said, exactly the opposite
of that "Anything which affects the sovereignty of the people of Gibraltar
will be put to them in a referendum. I do not want to mince around with
terms such as legal sovereignty or how we define it. I say that anything
which affects the sovereignty will be put to them". Couldn't be more clear
ANCRAM: Absolutely. In terms of
what is implemented, but what I do know is that if an agreement is reached
between the Spanish government and the British government about sovereignty
and ideas of sharing it, then that passes so, you can't undo that agreement,
it's there, it will be the first time that we've conceded even in principle
sovereignty over Gibraltar. That undermines the whole process, it undermines
the whole concept of nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We
learnt this in Northern Ireland, we did not talk about joint authority,
we did not talk about shared sovereignty, because we understood that if
we went down that road we would blow the process out of the water, and
I think the lessons of Northern Ireland are very clear, they should be
applied also in this case.
HUMPHRYS: Alright. Let's look at
the third of those foreign policy issues that I raised at the start of
this, the European Union. We heard Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary saying
this week in a speech that he is effectively - he didn't use this language
of course - but looking at it he is effectively treading your path. He
wants much greater subsidiarity which is of course what you want. He wants
more democratic accountability which is what you want. He wants reform
of Parliament, reform of the Commission, the Council of Ministers. There's
nothing there that you would disagree with is there?
ANCRAM: Oh yes there was because
what he was doing in that speech as he always does, was that he was lurching
from one side to the other. At one moment he was talking the sort of language
which we might be talking in terms of a flexible Europe and a Europe of
nations, the next he was talking about a written constitution, saying that
the words didn't matter. Well, they do because the argument about Europe
is a very simple and straight-forward one from my point of view - it's
whether we build Europe from the bottom up so that the power flows from
the nation states and the nation parliaments - that was the original concept....
HUMPHRYS: And that's what Jack
Straw said he wants this week.
ANCRAM: Not if you listen to what
he said in detail and you look at what he was talking about. He was talking
about, as they did when they came away from the Laeken Conference before
Christmas. They were talking about Europe being developed from the top
downwards. There's a great difference. If you develop something from
the top downwards you begin to give the top all the powers and abilities
of, if you like a government and then you begin to move into that whole
area of creating a European super-state. What I want to see is a flexible
Europe built from the bottom upwards. If you look at the last six months.
If ever there was a need to learn from experience, we've been able to
respond to what happened on the 11th September because we did not have
a Europe where there was a common foreign policy and a common defence policy.
If we had had that we would not have been able to respond as effectively
and flexibly as we did. That's the type of Europe we need to now see continue.
That was not what Jack Straw was talking about in his speech. He was
once again talking about an agenda which in the end of the day leads as
Schroeder himself was saying last week to what he wants to see, which
is a European government and effectively a European political union.
HUMPHRYS: Michael Ancram, thanks
very much indeed, you can put your hand down now. Many thanks for joining