Tag Archives: international development

Flood protection or overseas aid? A false choice

Help UK
Over the festive period, I saw the image on the right on a social media site, stating, against a backdrop of flooded housing:

It’s time to STOP sending money abroad and help people in the UK now. LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE if you agree?

A comment under the image mentioned:

…the 250 million we are giving to India to fund their Space Programme.

Oh dear. Where to start? Call me an old pedant, but I’m naturally suspicious of any entreaty which feels the need to include block capitals. But that’s just one of my little foibles.

My mind boggled at the idea that we are giving “250 million” to India to fund their Space Programme. It took just a quick Google to see where that came from. Our old friend the Daily Mail had a remarkably thoroughly, if one-sidedly, researched article on 15th February 2015 which was headlined as follows:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Liberal Democrats fight for the world’s poorest

Women in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, north Darfur, Sudan - Some rights reserved by DFID - UK Department for International DevelopmentFor many Liberal Democrat members the heavy election defeat was disheartening. However, the party can take strength from their contribution to governing the United Kingdom from 2010-2015.

One such example is the achievement made in the area of overseas aid. What were the achievements? When the Liberal Democrats were in government the UK reached the 0.7% figure of all national income, that should go towards foreign aid, for the first time ever; then enshrined the commitment in law.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Solution to Calais crisis lies in international development

All the unpleasantness of the last few days’ reaction to the ongoing Calais crisis is perhaps just a taste of the difficult challenge it will be for Liberals to uphold decency in the coming years. In my view, the best way to form a powerfully Liberal stance on this issue is to reinforce to the public that the solution to this crisis, as well as others (Islamic extremism, the environment etc.) lies in a field of policy often neglected by mainstream debate: International Development. But for us to form that policy, we must face some difficult home truths.

Every ideology has an extremist form. Every tool that can construct a better world can be used as a weapon to make a darker, crueller one. In the field of international development, it is time for Liberals like ourselves to recognise that we are not exempt from this fact. It is time for our party to develop a stance on development that differentiates us from the major parties and their blind stance to the free market fundamentalism of the current key institutions, the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation, so that Britain can play its part in reforming them when we return to government.

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Lib Dem MEP supports Fairtrade group in campaign to help sugar farmers after EU rule change

As Co-Ordinator of Lib Dem Fairtrade Future (LDFF) I’m proud to announce that we’ve launched a new campaign, Help Sugar Farmers, in support of a major effort from the Fairtrade Foundation (the governing body of Fairtrade in the UK) to get a fair deal for sugar farmers in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries following a European Union rule-change which-unless mitigation is provided-will likely lead to around 200,000 people being pushed into poverty.

I’m a proud pro-European but we have to be up-front when the EU makes decisions which adversely affect people both within the EU and-as in this case-beyond.

As noted by the Fairtrade Foundation, the EU has decided to do away with a cap on the amount of sugar grown in Europe which has previously helped to protect the livelihoods of sugar farmers (including around 60,000 who are part of the Fairtrade initiative) by enabling them good access to European markets.

LDFF supports the Fairtrade Foundation in calling for the EU to ‘lead a response which brings together businesses, other EU member states, governments in affected Countries, small farmers and civil society’ and to ‘provide new funding from the EU’s own development budget.’

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Martin Horwood writes…Cross-Government International Development in 2015 and beyond

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most unpredictable election campaign in recent memory.  Whilst the UK media, and indeed anyone with an interest in politics, has become an expert in polling data and marginal seats, we shouldn’t forget the real impact that these elections will have on the lives of millions of people around the world.

Anyone who doubts that impact should be reminded of Nigel Farage’s ridiculous attacks on UK aid spending in the leaders’ debate last week, topped off by his heartless comments about access to treatment for people who are HIV positive. Much like Labour’s ‘banker’s bonus tax’, Farage seems determined to use our foreign aid budget to fund every one of UKIP’s policies. While our impulse might be to roll our eyes at the absurdity of it all, we mustn’t forget the real damage that this line of aid-scepticim could do if unleashed on the Department for International Development (DfID) in the next government.

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Martin Horwood MP writes…A Lib Dem vision for fighting infectious diseases

The world is an ever-smaller place.  Advances in transport and telecommunications have bridged enormous geographic divides.  With a click on my phone I can Skype a friend on the other side of the world, or step outside my office and find produce from around the globe for sale in the local supermarket.

Yet, for all the many advantages of globalisation for trade and tourism, there is another side of the coin.  It is not only holidaymakers that travel by air.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.  Last year, it killed an estimated 1.5 million people.  In 1993 the World Health Organisation declared TB a ‘global health emergency’ since then over 40 million people have died from the disease.  It is airborne, infectious, and found in every country in the world.

In the UK, and indeed in much of the developed world, most people think that TB is no longer a threat.  Indeed, rates have fallen dramatically over the last century, and the disease has fallen off the radar.  Yet, any public health professional will tell you that TB is still a problem in many parts of the UK.  London is known as the TB capital of Western Europe.  Birmingham has even higher rates of the disease.  To complete the picture, the BCG, the TB vaccine that many of us received as children, offers negligible protection past the age of 15.

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Justine Greening’s revealing speech on International Development and what it didn’t say

Yesterday the Secretary of State for the Department for International Development (DfID), Justine Greening, gave a speech outlining what she considered to be her achievements in government and giving us a hint at what the Conservatives would focus on in a future government.

Greening’s speech was kept very low key.  This is partly because foreign aid is rarely headline news, but also because the Tory hierarchy are at pains to play down DfID’s work under this government, even its very significant achievements. It was only in November that Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond told reporters that he thought the bill brought forward …

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