Tag Archives: international aid

Event: Liam MacArthur MSP to take part in Question Time on tackling global poverty and climate justice

Voters in Scotland are being given the chance to quiz politicians – including Scottish LibDem MSP Liam McArthur – and make their voices heard on Scotland’s role in building a greener, fairer world.

Scotland’s International Development Alliance (The Alliance), which represents over 200 diverse organisations operating in over 100 countries, is hosting an online Question Time event to encourage Scottish political parties to include commitments to global sustainable development in their manifestos ahead of the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections in May.

Scotland for a Fairer World: Question Time will be held on Thursday 11 March from 6.30 to 8pm, chaired by campaigner and writer Talat Yaqoob. The politicians taking part are the SNP’s Jenny Gilruth MSP, Minister for Europe and International Development, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, the Liberal Democrats’ environment spokesperson Liam McArthur, Scottish Conservative Shadow Economy Secretary Maurice Golden, along with a representative from Scottish Labour.

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We need to argue for public investment in neglected UK areas AND a generous international aid budget

It’s not a surprise that a You Gov opinion poll showed 66% of respondents supporting the government’s plans for a ‘temporary’ cut in the foreign aid budget. Spending on foreign aid has been consistently unpopular with the British public for years; when pollsters ask what sector of public spending should be reduced, foreign aid outstrips all others.

Liberal Democrats hold to the argument that supporting overseas development is both a moral obligation and a foreign policy priority. But when we face so strong a negative response, we need to think carefully about how we make the case for development spending. And we need also to understand the bitterness of the ‘left behind’ in the former industrial towns of the Midlands and the North, as public spending has been cut and their local authorities have had to close more and more facilities.

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Observations of an expat: Development Aid

This week the British government announced that it planned to cut its overseas aid budget by 0.2 percent or about $4 billion a year. In 2019 it was $19.3 billion and Britain laid proud claim to being the world’s third largest aid donor and one of only five countries which had reached the internationally agreed aid donor figure of 0.7 percentage of GDP.

The announcement this week by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak was an emotional short-sighted political decision by a populist government as a knee-jerk response to the economic difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic. It had no grounding in either humanitarian or economic considerations.

Instead it caved in to the popular conception that charity begins at home without any acceptance of the fact that we live in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world.

Schools in the developing world will close or not open. Children will go hungry. Unemployment will rise along with political instability.  People, lots of them, will die if the proposed cut in British aid goes ahead.

British prestige in the world will also suffer. So will British trade and the British economy. The aid budget has never been an exercise in unadulterated altruism.  The fact is that aid flows from the developed to the developing world encourage global economic growth which creates markets for British goods and services. Poor people buy fewer British products. Dead people buy even less.

The aid cut still has to be voted on by parliament, and there is a growing cross-party consensus – including a number of rebel conservative MPs – that the proposal is a mistake and should be rejected. But parliamentary arithmetic – an 80-seat majority for the Johnson government – coupled with the political attraction of a simplistic solution to a complex problem, means that it will probably be approved.

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The unpalatable cause of poverty

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As arguments rage over cuts in Britain’s international aid budget, Liberal Democrats could help expose some of the mechanisms which create and sustain poverty.  On Tuesday December 1st, that brand household name Nestle is going the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that it should be allowed to use slavery to farm and ship raw cocoa from west Africa in order to make our chocolate.

Let me repeat that.  Nestle, whose profits last year were $15 billion, insists it has a right to make money from slavery.  In technical terms, it wants to be granted corporate legal immunity.

I first reported on this dreadful practice of child slavery on west African cocoa farms in 2000 for the BBC. The confectionary industry executives with their plush offices and multi-million pound executive bonuses rounded on me, with accusations that I was inventing and fabricating. I wasn’t. The BBC supported the story. I went back to the Ivory Coast, Mali and Ghana time and time again.

Despite promises from confectionary companies and the British government, the culture of slavery and poverty did not only continue, it got worse. A recent U.S. Dept of Labor report found more than two million children were now working on the west African cocoa farms from which Nestle gets its supplies. Many of the children are trafficked, held against their will with no schooling or health care. They are victims of long-standing arrangements between governments and corporations to retain cheap or free labour in favour of high profits.

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Liberal Democrats commit to international aid spending

In news which will surprise absolutely nobody, the Lib Dems are announcing today that we will maintain the requirement to spend 0.7% of GDP on international aid.

Getting this written into law was one of our best achievements in coalition and we are not going to let it go even though ti has become the focus of the ire of the right wing press.

We believe that it is important that the UK continues to alleviate poverty across the world, helping to build a more secure and stable international community.

Tim Farron explained why this is so important to us:

Liberal Democrats are fierce internationalists, and I am proud of Britain’s record as a world leader in providing help and support to some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world.

UK aid prevents suffering.  It allows girls to stay in school, stops babies from dying of preventable illnesses, and ensures that farmers can sell their crops at a fair price. A healthier, safer and more stable world is the best interest of British families as well. That’s why Liberal Democrats are today vowing to fight for Britain’s legacy and protect the 0.7% target.

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Simon Hughes MP writes… We need to take Bill Gates’ advice on aid and fight against Malaria

Last Monday evening I was privileged to attend a Bill Gates lecture in the House of Lords.

Bill Gates made a compelling case for the use of aid to make a real and tangible difference to the world’s poorest people. Rightly, the UK has a long and proud tradition of doing this, but we can do so much more.

There is no better case study for this than Malaria – one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases and which kills a child every minute of every day. That’s despite the fact that the cause is preventable and costs less than the price of a cup of tea to treat.

My family take a particular interest in this issue after losing our oldest brother Richard to Malaria contracted in Kenya during his honeymoon some years ago.

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Clegg on UK and EU relationship with Africa: “more trade, fairer tax and greater business transparency”

Nick Clegg gave a speech at the Africa Jubilee Business Forum which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation for African Unity. Here are the highlights:

Political rights must go in tandem with economic growth

Everybody, of course, wants growth – the key decision is how you achieve it. More and more African countries face a choice between the economic models of authoritarian capitalism, on the one hand, and liberal democracy, on the other.

In countries like China, authoritarian capitalism argues the case for economic growth ahead of political freedoms. And it’s a seductive argument in view of surging growth

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