Ethical Foreign Policy? Labour Versus the Foreign Office (1974–1979)

Part of the Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World book series (SCCCW)


This chapter considers whether the civil service can prevent a government from implementing radical policies and examines the power of the elected politician versus the appointed official. It describes how the Foreign Office tried to persuade Labour ministers against imposing sanctions on the Pinochet regime. The Wilson and Callaghan governments, under pressure from trade unions, human rights campaigners and the Chile Solidarity Campaign, nevertheless imposed a series of measures that can be seen as an early example of ‘ethical’ foreign policy—an arms embargo, the cutting of export credits, the welcoming of refugees and the withdrawal of the British ambassador in Santiago. The chapter also explores the informal social networks between government officials and the private sector in Britain, as well as links between British diplomats, the pro-Pinochet business community and military officers in Chile. It also looks at the Rolls Royce workers’ boycott in East Kilbride, an example of trade union action changing government foreign policy.


Ethical Foreign Policy Chile Solidarity Campaign Transport And General Workers Union (TGWU) Foreign OfficeForeign Commonwealth Office 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Latin American StudiesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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