Opinion: Liberal Democrat Fairtrade Future welcomes hospital food announcement

Fairtrdae photo by nagillum

One of the things that makes me proud to be a Liberal Democrat is our belief in fairness.
The very first line in the preamble to our Party’s Constitution states ‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a free, fair and open society…’
I also love that we are an internationalist party.
Indeed the preamble goes on to state, ‘We look forward to a World in which all people share the same basic rights…’
For me these two elements of our founding principles come together the Fairtrade movement which I’ve long since championed.

Most people have heard of Fairtrade these days, as it is becoming increasingly popular, but for anyone who hasn’t basically it ensures a fairer deal for Developing World farmers and growers by giving them a greater percentage of the amount paid in the West when products bearing the certified Fairtrade label on them (including the produce they farmed/grew) are sold. It makes the market fairer and ensures they get to work and live in better conditions, as well as helping whole communities via the Fairtrade Premium.
Late last year Matt Whittles and I co-founded Liberal Democrat Fairtrade Future (LDFF), our Party’s own grass-roots Fairtrade movement. The Fairtrade Foundation, the governing body of Fairtrade in the UK, welcomed our founding and have said we’re the first party to have such a group. Party President Tim Farron MP and the MP for Leeds North West Greg Mulholland kindly agreed to become our Patrons.
We at LDFF very much welcome today’s news, as part of the Department of Health’s announcement of new Hospital food rules, that ‘Half of Tea and Coffee (served) should be Fairtrade.’
Tim Farron, in a comment for this article, says:
I’m very pleased half of all tea and coffee in all hospitals will be Fairtrade. Fairtrade is the best way for us in the UK to support poor farmers worldwide who would otherwise struggle to compete, and to earn a decent living. I am a big supporter of the Fairtrade movement because it is a liberal issue-standing up for the world’s poorest and working to make a difference.
This is certainly a very encouraging move by the Government in its support of Fairtrade, but we do call on them to go further.
Especially in support of the Fairtrade Foundation’s Make Bananas Fair campaign to ensure a higher percentage of bananas sold in Britain are Fairtrade.
If you’d like to be kept in touch with the work of LDFF, please follow us on Twitter via: @LDFairtrade and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

Photo by nagillum

* Mathew Hulbert is a parish Councillor in Leicestershire.

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3 Comments

  • I think this is misleading as fairtrade is a brand not a movement. Often people shun other better fair trade initiatives in favour of the fairtrade logo which they recognise and believe to be the be all and end of in fair trade which it is clearly not. There are large flaws in Fairtrade as a brand. It does not encourage small farmers to develop their business or employ staff so encourages poor farmers to remain poor (albeit with a small incentive from Fairtrade). I have some academic research to support this not to hand but it is vital people don’t confuse Fairtrade (the brand) with the fair trade movement. One is liberal, the other a brand that could do more to assist the fair trade movement.

  • Paul, I understand your point of view and the Fairtrade foundation can certainly do more to help nuture sustainability and allow farmers in the developing world to expand their businesses. However, I would argue that fairtrade has evolved from a brand into a movement. When Mathew and I set up Fairtrade Future it wasn’t to promote Fairtrade as a brand but to show solidarity with the idea of sustainable development and to promote those values in the party. A party, which as Mathew stated in the introduction, is based on ideals of fairness and equality.

  • I agree with Paul Howden, professionals who work in agricultural development recognize the impact the Fairtrade kite mark once had, but the brand is now largely corrupted and redundant in terms of meeting this needs of improverished rural farmers. It’s often hard to let go of an appealing concept, but sadly what was once appropriate doesn’t always stay that way.

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