Britain Abroad Task Force

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The Britain Abroad Task Force was created as a result of one of the recommendations of Panel 2000.

The Britain Abroad Task Force was discussed in the House of Commons on 12 December, 2000, as follows:

Panel 2000 has produced a total of 21 recommendations. A key proposal was the creation of a "Britain abroad task force", to foster more co-ordinated presentation and projection of the UK. We are now establishing such a group. A joint Chair has been appointed as well as a Director and two staff, and an initial strategy for the new organisation is planned to be produced in March 2001. [1]


Members have included Peter Wallis.


The Britain Abroad Task Force consists of four different elements:

A Ministerial Group

This is led by Baroness Symons, Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, and brings together ministers from key government departments and non-departmental bodies involved in the promotion of the United Kingdom abroad. Members include:

A Creative Strategy Group

This brings together leading creative people from the private sector with the public sector to look at how the UK is presented overseas. This is chaired by John Sorrell, the founder of Newell and Sorrell and former chairman of the Design Council.

A Management Group

This brings together senior members of the main public sector bodies to ensure that everyone is working to a common agenda. [2]

An Executive

This manages the work of the Task Force.

The Public Diplomacy Strategy Board

Also of interest here is the Public Diplomacy Strategy Board: [3]

• Sir Michael Jay (Chair) — FCO Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service • Bill Rammell — FCO Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State • Zeinab Badawi — Broadcaster - BBC • Sir Stephen Brown — British Trade International - Group Chief Executive • Mark Byford — BBC World Service – Director • John Elvidge — Scottish Executive – Head of Finance & Central Services • David Green — British Council - Director General • Barry Ireton — Department for International Development, Director-General, Knowledge-sharing & Special Initiatives • Mark LeonardForeign Policy Centre – Director, also Centre for European ReformEric Peacock — Hertfordshire Business Link – Chief Executive • John Sorrell — Britain Abroad Task Force - Co-Chair • Tom Wright — British Tourist Authority - Chief Executive Secretariat • Dickie Stagg (Secretary) FCO — Director of Information • John Buck — FCO Head, Public Diplomacy Policy DepartmentTim Flear — FCO Public Diplomacy Policy Department • Jane Clarke — FCO Public Diplomacy Policy Department

The Wilton Review recommended the creation of an overarching public diplomacy strategy. The Public Diplomacy Strategy Board brought together key public diplomacy players and tasked them with the development of a collective public diplomacy strategy for the first time. In financial terms, around £340 million of direct expenditure is allocated to the three organisations for public diplomacy activities. This covers the grants in aid to the British Council and the World Service, as well as the FCO’s public diplomacy production costs and staffing costs in the UK. One key influence here was the work of the Foreign Policy Centre — It was agreed by the board to distribute copies of the Foreign Policy Centre’s report entitled Public Diplomacy. <reg>'Public Diplomacy', Foreign Policy Centre website, accessed 2 May, 2009.</ref>

The FCO's Public Diplomacy Strategy Board has several components, which are reflected in the make-up of the board:

1. A website,, [4] was launched in October 2002.

2. BBC World Service: it is funded primarily through grant-in-aid from the FCO but purportedly has complete editorial independence.

3. The British Council.

4. British Satellite News (BSN) is a TV news service provided by the FCO which has a particular focus on the Islamic and Arab world. BSN material is regularly used by 35 broadcasters in the Middle East and over 450 worldwide.

5. Scholarships and Fellowships encourage those who have the potential to become tomorrow's leaders, opinion formers and decision makers to study in the UK.

6. The FCO produces a wide range of publications and displays for use overseas.

7. The FCO also commissions and produces TV features and documentaries, which are broadcast in over 120 countries.

8. The FCO's Public Diplomacy Challenge Fund has been established to support projects that promote and support FCO Aims and Objectives.

9. The bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics was won on 6 July by London. [5]

The PR Companies

In the British Council's Crossing Over Magazine, which is an example of public diplomacy targeted at young people in the Netherlands, page 7 states: "To lead and design this study for the British Council and our partners, the British Embassy in the Netherlands, we have commissioned Peter Wallis of the management consultancy group Strategic Research Unit, SRU. Under his consultancy we will be looking to develop a very sensitive understanding of what the UK actually means to the successor generation in the Netherlands – not just what they say about it but how they actually feel about it." [6]

SRU's contacts to the government go back a long way, to the early 70s, and its other founder along with Wallis was Lord Stevenson, who was also a British Council member and has been a government advisor to Peter Walker and Tony Blair.



  1. Hansard Written Answers, UK Parliament website, (12 Dec 2000 : Column: 122-3W)
  2. 'What does the Britain Abroad Task Force consist of?', BATF website.
  3. 'Public Diplomacy Strategy Board', Foreign & Commonwealth Office website, accessed 2 May, 2009.
  4., web archive accessed 2 May, 2009.
  5. 'Promoting the UK', Foreign & Commonwealth Office website of 9 January, 2008. (Web archive accessed 2 May, 2009)
  6. 'Crossing Over', British Council website, June, 2003. (Accessed 2 May, 2009)