Persuasion and Power in the Modern World - Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK's Influence Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

This Committee was an 'ad hoc' appointment by the House and therefore ceased to exist on the production of this Report. The Liaison Committee, which is responsible for reviewing the work of the House's select committees, has decided to follow up the recommendations of former ad hoc committees a year after their reports are published. Some of our recommendations (those marked with an asterisk below) are therefore identified as issues on which we hope progress can be made within a year, and which should be subject to this process.

1.  The shifts sweeping the international order over the past 15 years will accelerate and be compounded in the years immediately ahead. Unprecedented international access to state information, the digital empowerment of individuals and groups, the growing role of global protest networks and non-governmental organisations, the complexity of modern trade supply chains and multinational corporate operations, accelerated urbanisation and transnational challenges are all operating both to diffuse and fragment traditional state power and to bring many of the world's peoples and countries closer together. At the same time, the rising power, economic and political, of non-Western countries (the so-called 'rise of the rest') is altering the international balance of power and influence. (see paragraph 28 of the main body of the Report)

2.  We have heard that these two powerful streams are converging to reshape global politics, and we believe that they require a commensurate response from those who guide the UK's foreign policy, from the Government's leaders downwards. In this hugely changed international context, the UK cannot simply proceed as before. If the UK is still effectively to protect and promote its interests, how it interacts with other nations and communities will need fundamentally to alter. We conclude that this demands a radical change in the mindset of those who direct the UK's foreign policy and shape its international role. We note that the UK is hosting a NATO summit in Newport in September of this year. There will be considerable focus on the UK's foreign policy in the weeks building up to that event: we recommend that the key themes of this Report should be evident in the Government's current and forthcoming preparations for the summit and in their contribution to the public debate surrounding it.* (paragraph 28)

3.  While the balances of power are shifting away from the West and away from governments, military force—though undoubtedly vital—is proving insufficient for defending the international interests of modern states. However, international relations are becoming ever more important as many nations become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, with a broadening interface between official, non-state and private interests and organisations. In this context, we consider that a country wishing to maintain or improve its place on the international stage must find new, complementary ways of establishing and exerting power and maintaining influence to reinforce and build on the crucial contribution made by the Armed Forces. (paragraph 39)

4.  In the context of shared global threats and high economic and political interdependence between states, and because military coercion alone is proving insufficient for defending nations' interests, being able to build positive international relationships and coalitions—as well as being able to export goods and services—is vital for modern nations' security and prosperity. The degree to which populations now form networks across borders gives this soft power a newly increased impact because it relies to a significant degree on popular perceptions. (paragraph 41)

5.  The evidence that we have received about the role of soft power in modern international relations has convinced us that because the methods that countries use to sustain or gain international power are changing, successfully communicating the attributes, values and outputs that gain for the UK both attractiveness and respect in the eyes of people abroad will be vital in maintaining the UK in positions of influence. Soft power may be difficult to measure and control, but it is nonetheless essential for protecting the UK's interests. The mindset of those who shape the UK's foreign policy must reflect this. (paragraph 60)

6.  To maximise their overall power, governments must strike an intelligent balance between supporting and benefiting from softer methods of power and persuasion now available and resorting to the use of force (hard power). Governments must also understand how hard and soft power are mutually reinforcing. Using the analogy of Professor Nye's three-dimensional chess game (with military power still unipolar on the top board, economic power now multipolar on the middle board, and the realm of cross-border transactions outside governmental control on the bottom board where power is now widely dispersed), governments need to be able to negotiate their positions in all three dimensions. In the hyper-connected world, we consider that the game will be played more often on the third board, where transnational attractions and connections produce soft power. While it will be rarer for states to call on military force or economic sanctions, failure to consider the whole playing board could lead to the UK being outmanoeuvered. (paragraph 70)

7.  For the UK to thrive in the new global milieu—as it should be well equipped to do—Government, Parliament, leading voices and shapers of opinion, non-governmental actors and the public will all need a better understanding of the importance of soft power alongside traditional hard power, and of how they interact. It is vital that the Government should have confidence in communicating with the British public about how some of their actions and spending in support of soft power can only deliver tangible and measurable results over time, and with patience and dedication. (paragraph 78)

8.  A greater public appreciation for how the UK's soft power assets (such as its cultural strengths) and most attractive characteristics (such as its diversity) contribute to the UK's international standing, its security, and its prosperity, could improve both domestic and international understanding of the UK's strategic narrative. It could also support internal community cohesion, and help voters recognise the benefits of the international networks of which the UK is a member, and the assets and policies that taxpayers fund. We urge strongly-led public debate about the Government's approach to smart power. Particularly within Government and Parliament, there is a need for urgent reflection on the mechanisms through which the Government seek to exercise power to achieve the UK's goals. (paragraph 79)

9.  We also urge on all concerned a much deeper understanding of how others see the UK, and how the very most can be made of our undoubtedly unique assets. Thus, while the US is the UK's close ally, and while the UK is a European power by history, geography and interests, we feel that there can be real soft power gains for the UK if it is seen to have a role and direction which is distinct—at least in some respects—from the broad American-led sphere of influence, and distinct from collective European Union endeavours. (paragraph 80)

10.  As our witnesses have made very clear, the days are long gone when this nation's, or any nation's, power could be measured in the size of its military forces, or in traditional patterns of enforcement. (paragraph 81)

11.  If the UK is to benefit from its significant soft power potential, the Government need to recognise that some of the bigger gains will only emerge over time and as conditions evolve. An overemphasis on immediate returns on investment will dilute the urgent attention that the pursuit and exercise of soft power require. (paragraph 84)

12.  The task for the Government will be to build on the UK's strengths, support the already evident success of soft power projection in many fields, and avoid the false economies of short-termism in areas where results take time to mature. Some of our proposals below involve relatively small levels of additional expenditure. We emphasise that investment now will realise significant future returns, not least because it is cheaper to support established and successful soft power assets now than it would be to attempt to regenerate neglected assets later, when the benefits of soft power become even clearer. In addition, the Government need to express honestly to the public that successes in the generation of soft power may come only from long-term commitments. (paragraph 85)

13.  As the Government examine the UK's geopolitical situation, they need to refine the country's role to ensure that they and other UK actors are able to maximise both the UK's attractiveness and the benefit gained from the country's soft power. (paragraph 94)

14.  We consider that the UK has much to offer the world, particularly because its history has bequeathed it both a global perspective and a deep understanding of most of the world's regions. It also enjoys alliances with many of the world's nations, both great and rising. The UK must therefore not accept any putative foreign policy choice between acting as a poodle of Washington or a lapdog of Brussels. The UK must chart its own course at the centre of a networked and transformed world in which it has significant comparative advantages. (paragraph 96)

15.  We urge those shaping the UK's foreign policy to act with greater confidence on the international stage, particularly in the Commonwealth, and not be reluctant to play a global role because of the complexity of the UK's colonial history. (paragraph 97)

16.  We consider that better coordination of the UK's overseas activities will require the Government to commit more resources to the Embassy network.* (paragraph 99)

17.  Embassies are now 'super-facilitators', facilitating contacts abroad for British businesses and other organisations and then standing aside while new relationships develop. The global redistribution of power away from governments means that the Embassy network needs to be supported more than ever, and Embassy resourcing strengthened. We welcome the Government's ambition to reopen diplomatic posts across the world, particularly in the BRIC countries and Latin America. But we are concerned that at a time when such posts have become vital to British soft power, the Government might have spread the UK's diplomatic representation too thinly.* (paragraph 101)

18.  Ambassadors are now required to be polymaths, and need training in a wide range of skills. The Committee recognises that spending constraints currently prevent the Government from providing much in the way of extra compensation to acknowledge this increased level of responsibility, but we urge the Government to ensure that remuneration and career structures allow the FCO to retain the most able. (paragraph 102)

19.  The era-shifting rise of social media will require the UK's official representatives to keep abreast of the skills that public diplomacy now demands. We therefore recommend that all UK diplomats receive professional training in public diplomacy. Government representatives should make use of all the methods and technologies that they have at their disposal to communicate effectively. In the hyper-connected world, UK diplomats will need always to be aware of the power of social media, and competent in their use of it.* (paragraph 104)

20.  We urge the Government to keep under review their decision to decentralise public diplomacy funding. When making funding commitments, the FCO should consider how best to spend public money to achieve the widest possible soft power impact. (paragraph 105)

21.  The Committee welcomes the re-opening of the FCO's Language Centre. The Government should conduct an audit of the language skills of civil servants across all Departments. The Government would not need to spend a great deal on such an exercise, but being able to draw upon all of the Government's language skills would bring sizeable advantages for officials working overseas or with foreign counterparts.* (paragraph 106)

22.  There will be significant crossover between the roles that the Armed Forces, DFID and the FCO assume in unstable and post-conflict contexts worldwide. We therefore recommend that the Government should review how well DFID, the MOD and the FCO cooperated in Afghanistan, with a view to providing lessons for any future post-conflict reconstruction efforts. They should publish the results of their review as a Command Paper within a year of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.* (paragraph 113)

23.  We acknowledge the concerns raised by some witnesses that the perceived blurring of boundaries between humanitarian organisations and armed forces can create political and security difficulties for aid workers. But the level of separation involved in 'humanitarian space' runs counter both to the idea that the Armed Forces involve themselves more closely in post-conflict and peacetime activities, and to the new imperative for the UK to use all the assets at its disposal in a joined-up way to gain influence in a changing world. Generally, such barriers should not be allowed to halt cooperation between military and civilian actors where cooperation is necessary. At the same time, servicemen and servicewomen deserve greater recognition for the important work that they do in post-conflict reconstruction.* (paragraph 115)

24.  We recommend that the Government undertake a thorough analysis of the contribution that soft and smart power might make to the UK's security as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. They should look in particular at the role that the military plays in projecting soft power and at its humanitarian work.* (paragraph 116)

25.  Because their work is now so dependent on understanding the cultural and political contexts of countries in which they operate, and because the work of the military is linked inextricably to broader efforts to improve the UK's reputation overseas, military attachés should be fully integrated into mainstream Embassy work under the purview of Ambassadors.* (paragraph 117)

26.  The importance of hard power (military force) in knitting together with soft power as part of a smart power strategy should be more fully grasped. The Armed Forces, as they face the demands of a still faster-changing role in the new context, should be properly resourced to meet these challenges. (paragraph 119)

27.  The promotion of British values through the funding of international development projects can yield significant soft power gains. The Government should improve their communications around the UK's involvement in Africa and other developing regions and countries, for example by promoting the UK as a partner (including a commercial partner), not simply as an aid-giver. (paragraph 124)

28.  The Government should attempt better coordination of the activities that UK agencies undertake 'on the ground' in each post and market. The Committee feels that DFID is too divorced from other arms of Government and UK Embassies. (paragraph 127)

29.  DFID could, for example, make an explicit commitment in its annual business plan outlining how it might better promote itself as an enabler of soft power and as a promoter of British industry and commerce. The Government should also consider soft power gains when reviewing DFID's activities. Humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction, for instance, might yield greater soft power gains than other forms of support, and this should be part of the picture when DFID's work is evaluated. (paragraph 128)

30.  We consider that as well as its focus on when UK development assistance can achieve the most for the people it is intended to support, DFID should give consideration to the degree to which its work can support the promotion of British values. It should do so both because such a focus would support the UK's soft power, and because British values such as democracy and the rule of law promote the stability of the countries involved and the wellbeing of their people. (paragraph 131)

31.  The Government should ensure that Departments are sufficiently resourced to deliver British aid in a way that supports the UK's soft power, because false economies here will result in aid spending that fails to deliver benefits for the UK in the long run. The Government should also ensure that DFID does more to improve the transparency and accountability of the overseas projects that it supports, of consultants whom DFID employs directly, and of consultants employed by the NGOs that DFID funds. In addition, DFID should be more open about the projects that it has paid for whose objectives have not been achieved. (paragraph 132)

32.  Building on the UK's networked position will mean that the Government can work to shape the milieu of the international networks and global 'system' in which it plays a part, and not just relations within that system. (paragraph 144)

33.  The underrepresentation of British officials in international institutions such as the EU and UN could well prove detrimental to the UK's long-term influence. (paragraph 145)

34.  The UK must engage more actively and flexibly with the networks of the future that represent key emerging powers, such as ASEAN, the African Union, the Arab League, the Pacific Alliance and the new Latin American groupings now taking shape. We consider that the UK is in a uniquely strong position to seize the opportunities that its global history offers and present itself as able and keen to forge bonds with countries and communities across the globe. (paragraph 146)

35.  The strategic imperatives of a transformed global order demand that the UK aim to be the best-networked state in the world. To answer one-time US Secretary of State Dean Acheson's challenge—that the UK had "lost an Empire and not yet found a role"—we submit that the country's history, experience and global reach now present it with an enviable opportunity to work with others in shaping the world. This role will require sometimes difficult engagement with partners old and new, but it is a role that the Government should embrace unequivocally and enthusiastically. (paragraph 147)

36.  Since it is a clear source of advantage to UK interests, the Government could investigate how to give more support to intra-Commonwealth trade. (paragraph 154)

37.  The Government need to put greater focus on the important potential in the Commonwealth. The Minister of State charged with responsibility for Commonwealth matters should have that task as his or her main role, and should be seen to do so, rather than just having care for Commonwealth relationships included amongst a list of numerous duties. (paragraph 156)

38.  The UK must not be too timid about engaging energetically with the Commonwealth. Hyper-connectivity and the 'rise of the rest' are conspiring to give the Commonwealth every opportunity to become a vital network of the 21st century. The UK would be foolish not to recognise this development. (paragraph 157)

39.  Our evidence suggested that the new significance for the UK of the modern Commonwealth, offering high-growth and high-savings markets, as well as a gateway to many of the great emerging powers of Asia, Africa and Latin America, is not quite understood in Whitehall. We note that the education, business, training and cultural sectors have taken the lead in Commonwealth networking. In particular, the UK's increasingly successful exporters of all kinds of services have forged ahead with this engagement—a highly promising trend in a world of fast-expanding knowledge-based exchanges. (paragraph 159) We recommend that the Government should follow this lead both in inspirational word and in deed: not just inside the FCO, but in all the lead Departments with a substantial international interface (including DFID, MOD, DCMS, DfE, DEFRA and others). The Government should foster and encourage Commonwealth linkages with much more vigour than before, while recognising the challenges which currently confront Commonwealth bodies. (paragraph 160)

40.  Given the importance of the wide-ranging debate regarding the UK's membership of the EU, we feel that all political parties should ensure that their policy choices take heed of the UK's long-term global influence. While recognising that the balance of evidence we received argued that membership of the EU offers the UK a useful and important arrow in the quiver to employ in international relations, we consider that the Government should enhance the UK's input to the reform and modernisation of the EU. We see major opportunities for the UK to work with many allies, at both the governmental and popular levels, throughout the European Union to strengthen and adapt the Union's 21st-century role. Such an approach would support British interests and help adapt the European Union's own position to new global challenges. However, the gains all round will also depend on the success of the EU in addressing present challenges, such as divisions within the Euro zone and unacceptably high youth unemployment. (paragraph 169)

41.  UKTI, and other Government bodies charged with promoting UK companies abroad, should emphasise the reliability and trustworthiness of British businesspeople as one of the significant advantages of trading with the UK. (paragraph 182)

42.  It is the Committee's opinion that the Government must take positive steps to link soft power deployment and support for the country's exports, its enterprise, and its innovation. (paragraph 186)

43.  We welcome the Government's recognition of the importance of supporting exporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A House of Lords Select Committee recently conducted an inquiry into this subject and we urge the Government to continue working on implementing its recommendations. (paragraph 191)

44.  We agree with the evidence that we heard from a number of witnesses that UKTI should encourage more follow-up work in the aftermath of trade missions. Helping British businesses to export their goods and services to other countries and form supply chains and consortia is crucial for building up the UK's soft power, as these international connections strengthen trust in the UK and its reputation for providing valuable outputs. It is also vital that the UK's trade promotion bodies pull out all the stops to capitalise on the UK's soft power and translate it into trade deals. We urge the Government to put every energy into this effort. (paragraph 192)

45.  Embassy staff should undergo training in seeking out opportunities for British SMEs as well as large businesses. The Government should also encourage the FCO actively to recruit more advisory staff from the private sector. What used to be purely commercial work should now be reinforced by linkages to new audiences in cultural, educational and broader spheres, to propel forward the whole UK 'package'.* (paragraph 193)

46.  The Committee suggests that wherever feasible, UK Government bodies working to promote British commercial interests in a particular country should be brought under one roof, and under the direct purview of the Ambassador to ensure effective coordination of all the UK's efforts 'on the ground'.* (paragraph 194)

47.  Constructive engagement with economies of a range of sizes is good for trade, not least because global supply chains are now so complex, and involve so many partners. (paragraph 195)

48.  There should be reinforced private and public investment and supportive policy-making to protect the UK education sector's global position. (paragraph 206)

49.  The FCO could sustain the important connections formed through education by working with universities and schools to scope out opportunities for the establishment of overseas campuses, and by funding new and targeted scholarships in key growth areas such as Africa. The Government should ensure that the Chevening, Commonwealth and Marshall awards offer a coherent package of engagement with the UK and its Embassies during the period of the scholarship and afterwards.* (paragraph 209)

50.  While we are pleased to hear that "the Chevening cuts are in the process of being reversed", this is the minimum that the Government should do. Greater investment in scholarships by other countries is threatening the UK's competitive position. The Committee feels that a relatively small amount of extra funding would bring the country into line to ensure that the brightest and best of the world's future leaders feel an affinity with the UK.* (paragraph 210)

51.  We agree that study abroad provides soft power benefits to the UK, and that the Government should work with universities to increase the number of students who are studying in other countries. (paragraph 211)

52.  The Government should consider greater integration of science within their foreign policy strategy, objectives and formulation. For example, they should identify the ways in which science can inform diplomacy. The Government should also put considerable effort into assuming leadership roles in multilateral efforts to address science-related policy problems. To strengthen links between British scientists and their counterparts overseas, the Government should provide particular diplomatic assistance to scientists working in regions with weak governance. They should work to ensure that security concerns around nuclear physics and microbiology, for example, do not entirely limit progress or international cooperation in these areas. British Embassies should also more actively communicate scientific initiatives, and the FCO should give training in science policy to diplomatic staff. (paragraph 217)

53.  The Committee is concerned that the Government are not supporting the teaching of British English as well as they might. The Government must ensure that the British Council is properly resourced. In order to ensure that its position does not disadvantage private-sector education providers, the Government should require the British Council to provide in its annual report a much more detailed appraisal of the work that it has done to support private sector British English education across the world.* (paragraph 223)

54.  The UK's capacity to build connections is constrained by the small number of its citizens who are able to speak foreign languages. Given the transition towards a more people-to-people, reciprocal form of international relations, remaining mono-lingual goes against the grain of how influence and engagement, and therefore power, now operate. (paragraph 225)

55.  We therefore urge the Government to make every effort to redress the decline in language learning in UK schools and universities. The Government could also provide increased support for study-abroad programmes. (paragraph 226)

56.  In almost every one of our evidence sessions, witnesses told us that the Government's new visa policies were harming the assets that build the UK's soft power. (paragraph 227)

57.  We call on the Government to present and communicate their visa and immigration policies with a level of balance and in a tone that do not discourage those who would add to the UK's prosperity from coming to the UK and supporting its businesses and trade. We do not believe that this is always the case at present. (paragraph 228)

58.  We welcome the Government's announcement that they intend to make UK visas more attractive to Chinese visitors. We now urge the Government to improve visa application processes—including access to visa processing facilities—for other key growth areas such as India and other Commonwealth nations, and to keep a close eye on competitors' visa policies. The Government must make every effort to ensure that legitimate tourists can access UK visas quickly, easily and cheaply, as they contribute so much to both the UK's economy and the UK's international standing.* (paragraph 229)

59.  We believe that the Government should remove students from net migration targets, and publish data on how previous progress on migration targets would have looked had the Government not counted students in previous years. The Government must work harder to ensure that their efforts to cut migration by those who would not add to the UK's wellbeing do not prevent those whose presence would further the UK's domestic and international interests from seeing the UK as welcoming. We note that we are the sixth Select Committee to recommend in this Parliament that the Government remove international students from the net migration target, and that the Chairs of the other five Commons and Lords Committees to do so wrote to the Prime Minister in January 2013 to stress their belief that this degree of consensus between committees of both Houses was unprecedented.* (paragraph 235)

60.  We urge the Government to consider the effects that their visa and immigration policies might have on the UK's well-established reputation for academic and cultural cooperation. The Government should acknowledge the effects that tighter visa regulations might have on UK scientists' ability to undertake international research collaboration. (paragraph 236)

61.  A focus on strengthening diversity in positions of influence is an important way to enhance the UK's reputation for being meritocratic and open. Any lack of diversity risks squandering any soft power benefits that might accrue if representatives of communities that are in the minority in the UK, but which link to huge and powerful communities beyond the UK's shores, were more visible in British institutions and media. We also believe that improving the UK's record on gender equality in the boardrooms and corridors of power is of utmost importance, and could add to the UK's reputation in regions where the role of women is expanding. (paragraph 243)

62.  We feel that there is a real risk that anti-immigration rhetoric will lead immigrant communities in the UK to feel less welcome and less a part of the UK, with injurious consequences for the unity of the nation. This can only undermine the message of friendliness and diversity that the UK hopes to project. (paragraph 244)

63.  The Committee acknowledges that in straitened economic times, the Government will have spending priorities other than the funding of the UK's cultural institutions. Yet now that the economy is returning to growth, we urge the Government to reconsider funding cuts to publicly subsidised collections. We suggest that the Government focus in particular on funding cultural exchanges with a demonstrable soft power value, along the lines of the Cyrus Cylinder tour to Iran. We further propose that the Government use GREAT Campaign funding and advertising resources to promote specific cultural activities that are likely to increase inbound tourism.* (paragraph 255)

64.  We recommend that the Government should consider analysing tax incentives so that support for British creative industries is in line with the UK's competitors.* (paragraph 257)

65.  We welcome the British Council's efforts to nurture creative industries. Because of their role in developing the innovators of the future, we would also underline the importance of teaching design and technology in British schools. In order to promote a business environment in which the creative industries might thrive, we further recommend that the Government ensure a regulatory environment that encourages creative industries to headquarter in the UK.* (paragraph 259)

66.  Given the diversity of the BBC's international services, there is scope for a coordinated and cohesive approach. (paragraph 260)

67.  While we understand that the BBC World Service's budget has been protected in the move to licence-fee funding, we are concerned that this protection might be more difficult to maintain in the face of future budget pressures and challenges to the principle of the licence fee. We are concerned that the Government are not currently doing enough to support the BBC World Service, and we urge the BBC and the Government to ensure between them that the BBC World Service's budget is not reduced any further in real terms, and the opportunities for coordination across multiple platforms to deliver content are taken.* (paragraph 268)

68.  The Committee feels that the Government should consider a range of funding options for the BBC World Service—including drawing on commercial sources for income—to ensure that its reach and influence do not diminish in a newly competitive global media market. (paragraph 270)

69.  We stress that any reorganisation of the BBC World Service should be commercially self-sustaining, but that the suitability of any proposals must be judged against their potential to help or harm the global influence of the BBC World Service and the UK as a whole. Should the BBC Trust or the Government deem any commercialisation to be detrimental to the UK's influence, we urge the Government to seek other means of providing increased support to the World Service, perhaps from central taxation. However, we should never forget that the BBC's independence from Government is an essential part of its credibility, so that the case for more direct funding from Government is not always valid. The Government must avoid at all costs following the example of other states where nationally funded radio and TV stations (often resourced on a lavish scale) are seen as mere instruments of propaganda. (paragraph 271)

70.  The Committee supports the use of DFID funding to assist the BBC's development work, and we urge further consideration of how this type of support can be expanded. (paragraph 272)

71.  The soft power benefits originating from sport convince us that now the London Olympic and Paralympic Games have concluded, the UK should work to find a way to retain the "glow" attached to British sport institutions. We suggest that the Government continue to publicise the success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games wherever possible—particularly through UKTI and the GREAT Campaign—while promoting the upcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games. In addition, UKTI should strongly promote the UK as a reserve of expertise in the design and delivery of megaprojects like the London 2012 Games and the 2014 Commonwealth Games. (paragraph 283)

72.  It is clear that the UK has strong soft power assets: in their response to this Report, we urge the Government to provide a strong focus on the specific aspects of the UK's soft and smart power that they will seek to develop in reaction to the arguments made in this Report, how they will do so, and to what timetable. The response should examine the challenges faced by the UK's non-governmental soft power assets and what the Government can do to assist and support them. It should also clearly delineate precisely which of our recommendations they support and will implement, and if they do not accept any of our recommendations, it should explain why not.* (paragraph 288)

73.  The Government must present, and keep updating, a strong narrative about the UK's changing position; a story about what values the UK stands for and where it should be heading. We consider that the UK's soft power will only achieve real momentum if the UK maintains this sense of purpose. Attractiveness will only convert into positive achievements if the UK and those who engage with it have a grasp of the contribution that the UK can make—it will amount to little if the UK is believed merely to be seeking admiration and economic gain. The Government must take responsibility for providing a clear vision for the country, which will help those across Whitehall who influence foreign policy to understand what is holding the UK back, or could hold it back in the future. (paragraph 293)

74.  The UK's aim and claim to continue to play a major role in world affairs would be undermined by Scottish separation, because even a debate about whether the UK should continue to be a member of the UN Security Council, for example, would do damage to its reputation. Dismembering the UK is not consistent with promoting the country abroad as a strong, stable and successful state; nor is it consistent with promoting the sense of internal social cohesion that is so important to presenting a positive view of the UK on the international stage. This damage would be to the disadvantage of the Scottish people, as much as to the UK as a whole. (paragraph 295)

75.  The Committee urges the Government to publish, as part of their response to this Report, an evidence-based explanation that demonstrates how the sharing of soft power promotion between the National Security Council, the GREAT Campaign, the FCO, the MOD, DCMS and DFID has been a success.* (paragraph 297)

76.  While we welcome the role of the GREAT Campaign in bringing together those involved in the UK's international marketing, we feel that the Government should do more to build on the campaign's successes. We have some concern about the lack of clarity about where the buck stops. We propose that the Government make publicly available their justification for how the structure of the GREAT Campaign brings added value.* (paragraph 298)

77.  We urge Government decision-makers to consider adverse consequences for the UK's soft power when devising policies that might be domestically popular, but could damage the UK's reputation. It is important for the UK's international attractiveness and influence that the Government avoid expressing confusing views on immigration. The Government must ensure greater consistency between the development and communication of their policies on immigration and their plans to make the UK attractive to visitors, students, workers and investors, with all the soft power benefits that openness brings. The Government have demonstrated a worrying lack of coordination in the development and communication of certain policies, with detrimental results for British soft power. (paragraph 299)

78.  We suggest that bureaucratic coordination through the establishment of a Government committee on the UK's soft power would lack the drive and purpose that the issue requires. An understanding of how soft power is generated, and how the UK should behave if it is to be attractive and influential should become mainstream in Whitehall thinking, not hived off to a Cabinet sub-committee. (paragraph 300)

79.  We feel that there needs to be a long-term strategic narrative about the international role of the UK, promulgated from the centre of Government. Innovative and imaginative Departments would interpret this narrative, with the freedom to use their initiative but with a clear understanding of how their responses fitted into the broader theme. (paragraph 301)

80.  If it does not have the capacity regularly to discuss the UK's broad international standing, the National Security Council (NSC) should make this clear, and the Government should move quickly to put responsibility for the UK's reputation in different hands. The Committee believes that while the NSC continues to play this role, soft power should be a regular item on its agenda—it needs to have a high priority. We urge the NSC to devote at least one session every six months to discussing the exercise of soft power, and to report to Parliament once a year about the UK's exercise of soft and smart power.* (paragraph 302)

81.  We propose that there should be a small unit at the centre of Government specifically to assist the Prime Minister in reinforcing the consistency of the soft power story throughout Whitehall, and help him or her to counteract swiftly any developments that might undermine the UK's broader message, story and reputational standing across the world. The unit would set the theme on which Departments and non-state soft power actors could improvise. It would not impose strategies on Departments or add a layer of bureaucratic meetings and planning: by assembling and putting into telling words all aspects of the UK's strategic story and direction, it would help Departments to understand the UK's place on the international stage, and how their actions might affect this.* (paragraph 304)

82.  We consider that there ought to be a Committee in Parliament which annually publishes a review of the Government's soft power strengths and weaknesses, goals and priorities, looking particularly closely at the work that the Government have done to support the UK's international standing and attractiveness. We note that there are a number of Parliamentary Committees with international dimensions to their work, such as the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, and we hope that one such Committee will consider pursuing this. We further recommend that, as the UK's international standing is the ultimate in long-term and non-partisan concerns, the Government should regularly consult with all the major parties in the Westminster Parliament and in the devolved assemblies on the UK's strategic direction and future on the world stage. The unit tasked with shaping and embellishing the UK's strategic narrative should also consult widely with non-state soft power actors, including firms, charities and scientific, sporting and cultural institutions. (paragraph 310)

83.  In an era in which the distribution and very nature of power, influence and engagement are undergoing radical change, the UK finds itself with a tremendous range of institutions and relationships in politics, economics, science and culture, often amassed over generations, which give it a great deal of internationally recognised soft power. To parody the old saw about how it came to rule an empire, the UK could be said to have acquired a great many of these soft power assets 'in a fit of absence of mind'. We feel that the Government have moved from absent-mindedness to neglect of certain aspects of British soft power potential, particularly the UK's relations with the Commonwealth. The Government's imperative now must be to defend and preserve the UK's accumulated estate of soft power—and capitalise on the gains which soft power generates in order to fulfil the UK's aims and purposes. (paragraph 311)

84.  To make sure that the UK's attractiveness and influence can be used by the Government and other British bodies to promote the country's interests, the Government and foreign policy community must develop new approaches to international relations. These approaches involve communicating openly and actively both with old allies and new partners; offering the UK's soft and hard power to the pursuit of solutions to common concerns; and avoiding false choices between international institutions and working to nudge these institutions towards global arrangements from which the UK stands to gain. It means allowing British Embassies to flourish as dynamic centres of commercial, diplomatic, and cultural activities, and ensuring that all of these activities are underpinned by a positive vision or narrative about the UK and about its role in shaping how the world will look in the future. (paragraph 312)

85.  The Government should employ the UK's soft power advantages to ensure and protect national security by employing a judicious and 'smart' mixture of hard and soft power, and through opening and safeguarding the access routes that its various industries need to ensure the UK's continuing prosperity. To play a responsible and progressive role in building global peace and stability, the UK needs to widen its diplomacy, understand that it is dealing with empowered and e-enabled publics everywhere and in every country, and accept through its tone and policies that power has in some degree shifted East, South and into the world's networks. The Committee submits that such an approach would enhance the UK's soft power, work with the grain of the changing nature of international relations, and further the country's security and prosperity. (paragraph 313)

86.  A huge change of mindset is required among those who shape the UK's international role and placing in the world. This mindset should not only recognise the fundamental ways in which international power balances are changing and the crucial role played by soft power in adapting to those shifts, but come to see the UK in the 21st century no longer solely as a 'Western' power—tied to Western models of modernisation and political development—but as a nation uniquely equipped to understand, respect and work with the new mélange of Eastern, Western and Southern powers, cultures and values now rapidly taking shape. The UK must appreciate that nations such as China are following other paths, and working together outside traditional multilateral structures such as the UN Security Council. (paragraph 314)

87.  The UK has to slip its twentieth-century moorings and look to Asia, Africa and other regions, countries and communities. This does not necessarily mean striking out alone: all nations are now intensely interdependent. But the UK can exploit its singular position and its uniquely strong networks to put it in a very influential position in the changing international scene. The Government should be clear about what the UK wishes to achieve as an interdependent, networked power. This will include fulfilling its international roles and responsibilities and encouraging others to do the same in a way that spreads the load of international policing, and building the UK's prosperity, not least to enable it to perform those roles and meet those responsibilities effectively. The Government must work to restore the UK's reputation, and show up outdated perceptions of the UK as an outdated power. The UK can, and should, act as a serious force for good as the world continues to change. (paragraph 315)

88.  This new approach becomes more urgent by the day. The UK must remain a top-rank performer in the global network and it finds itself in the fortuitous position of having every opportunity to do so. However, while celebrating the UK's fortune, we also warn that if the Government do not face the facts of the transformed international order, the UK will risk finding itself outwitted, out-competed, and increasingly insecure. (paragraph 316)

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