Instead of hiding behind America’s military shield, Europe needs to spend on arms to protect its security interests, according to Nick Witney. In the run-up to last December’s European Union defence summit, British general Nick Houghton warned Britain’s armed forces risked being “hollowed out.”Too little of Britain’s reduced defence budget was being spent on personnel, he noted, and too much on “exquisite” equipment bought for the wrong reasons. “We must also be careful,” he cautioned, “that the defence budget is not disproportionately used to support the British defence industry.”

Australians retain warmer feelings to other English-speaking nations than to their neighbors in Asia, according to a new poll. But Britain rated only third, behind the United States and New Zealand, in the Lowy Institute poll, the results of which were released on Tuesday. The poll by the Sydney-based institute asked respondents to nominate Australia's 'best friend' from a list of six countries.

Soft power is influence. I do blither on about the soft power of the arts, especially literature, but I’m not wrong. The act of reading changes the world more and for the better than war does, and since Britain is one of the most prolifically literate nations on earth, it still has a say in how the planet is run (badly but it could be worse). Britain, a tiny island, still rates, and soft power is its currency.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller today launched a tourism partnership strategy for Britain which calls for the travel industry and the government, together with key public and private sector bodies, to unite behind a long-term ambition for growth that would see Britain welcome 40 million overseas visitors by 2020, spending £31.5 billion and supporting an additional 200,000 jobs across the country.

Diplomats from the relatively small number of states which maintain missions in the country were asked to the Foreign Ministry and told that they would be given help to move out by next Wednesday because of the threat of conflict with the United States and South Korea.

April 1, 2013

Exporting culture to China isn't just about profit. It's also an extension of Britain's soft power. Listening to Mamma Mia in Mandarin I was amused to hear that in the chorus of Abba's Money, Money, Money, the singers revert to English...Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats is also touring, and producer Cameron Mackintosh in confident that Les Misérables will follow soon. It is proof that Britain's creative industries are a key export sector, which we can and should be growing.

Ministerial consideration of launching a negative advertising campaign to deter Bulgarians and Romanians from coming to work in Britain next year is "bordering on the farcical", Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, has said.