Tag Archives: international development

Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Malcolm Bruce: Tory Brexit plans a denial of democracy and an abrogation of leadership

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Malcolm talked about Scotland’s situation and argued that independence was an even worse prospect than it was before. As someone who has extensive experience in international development, the Government’s plans to use the aid budget to sweeten Eastern Europe really upset him – despicable, he called them.

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. I am pleased to say that, although I do not always agree with him, I agreed with every word that he said.

I want to focus on two things, involving two people: the Prime Minster and the First Minister of Scotland. Before the referendum, Theresa May was billed as a reluctant remainer—but a remainer. Since the referendum she has become an enthusiastic Brexiteer leading a Government barely distinguishable from UKIP. The referendum was conducted on both sides in a climate of misinformation. A Government elected with under 37% of the vote on a 66% turnout, under a Prime Minister who was not the leader of the party or an obvious prime ministerial candidate at the last election, have decided that their interpretation of the result should be sovereign—even trying to exclude Parliament from the process.

How dare they lecture us about democracy? As Ken Clarke said, had the result gone narrowly the other way—or even substantially the other way—the Brexiteers would not have stayed quiet but now would be in full cry for a rerun, as are the nationalists in Scotland, who also pledged that this was a once-in-a-generation vote. For the Prime Minister to say, definitively, that the people have voted to leave the single market, all or part of the customs union and the European Court of Justice, as well as—and probably more importantly—other institutions of the EU, is a denial of democracy and an abrogation of leadership.

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LibLink: Lindsay Northover: UK aid: High impact, low cost

Former Lib Dem International Development Minister Lindsay Northover has been writing for Politics Home about the benefits for both recipients and us at home in the UK of our international aid budget. This is very important to read when it is clear that this is the next target of the right wing media and political types.

She wrote of the impact on disease prevention:

Since 2000 and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, the world achieved its commitment to halve extreme poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted globally in 2015 aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, leaving no one behind. That is a supreme challenge. But it is clearly the right thing to do and in our interest. The instability fostered in the world by poverty, migration, climate change, conflict, must be tackled collectively.

This is why my Lib Dem colleagues Michael Moore and Jeremy Purvis took their private member’s bill through Parliament in the last days of the Coalition to secure that future commitment of 0.7 percent of GNI on aid. Many members across both Houses helped us, together with NGOs, and tributes are paid to the UK internationally for making this commitment.

So let us look at disease control and elimination – which is just one area that the UK is a world leader in, but which is topical as we pass the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration in 2012, when a major increase of funding for neglected tropical diseases was announced.

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Lynne Featherstone calls on UK Government to support Women’s Health Fund to replace funds lost by Trump’s abortion gag rule

I have felt sick to the stomach virtually every day this week as new pronouncements come from the new US President. Already he’s damaged our planet by authorising new pipelines, promised to reinstate torture and proclaimed that he’s going to build that wall no matter what.

For me, though, the worst was the distasteful image of a man who has gloated about sexually assaulting women sitting, surrounded by men, signing an executive order which will ensure that vulnerable women lose their lives. He has reinstated the “global gag rule” on abortion which means that no US funds can go to organisations which provide abortion services. No US money pays for abortion services, but no organisation can receive funds for its other programmes.

The impact of this on Africa is highlighted by this Washington Post article:

In Kenya, public health experts raised immediate concerns about the new policy. Women here often resort to dangerous methods to end their pregnancies, including drinking battery acid and using wire coat hangers. In parts of rural Kenya, young women have hired local healers to stomp on their stomachs until the pregnancy is deemed over.

“Trump’s policy means even fewer services will be offered,” said Chimaraoke Izugbara, a researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi. “Some women will not be reached, and providers may not be available to offer services. I think we are headed to a major disaster.”

Nearly 8,000 women in Kenya die every year from complications caused by pregnancy and childbirth. At least a fifth of those deaths are caused by self-induced abortions, according to Izugbara.

However, Dutch trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen has a solution:

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And your problem with an innovative way to tell girls they don’t have to put up with violence is…..?

There are few things in life more irritating than the Daily Fail crowing. It is doing just that this morning after International Development Minister Priti Patel announced that funding for what the Fail called the “Ethiopian equivalent of the Spice Girls” was being cut from our international aid budget. In the same way as they pepper words like “bogus” around when talking about asylum seekers, or make it sound like every second person claiming benefits is doing so fraudulently (when the figure is less than 1%), they are trying to make it sound like all the money that we send overseas is being frittered away on frivolity.

What they don’t tell you is that the group Yegna is a brilliant, innovative and creative way of getting an important message about women’s and girls’ rights through to both men and women. It tells girls that they don’t have to put up with being beaten by their parents. It changes minds. Just look at this poster from the Girl Effect, who manage this project.

 

I’d particularly want to draw your attention to the changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours section. Almost all boys who were exposed to Yegna’s work would be moved to report it if they were aware of a girl being forced into marriage compared with just over half who were not. 59% of girls beaten by their parents who had listened to Yegna would agree that it should be reported to the authorities compared with less than a third who had not. 25% more girls who had listened to Yegna realised that it was wrong for men to hit their wives.

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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:

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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.

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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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