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#DevelopmentDoorstep this Saturday 28th!

25 March 2015

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Join LCID members, the LCID executive and MPs to campaign for Neil Coyle in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, and Tulip Siddiq in Hampstead and Kilburn.

These are two of the key target seats in London – Hampstead and Kilburn has a tiny majority and Bermondsey is a high profile seat we need to take from the Lib Dems. The day will be a great opportunity to meet other LCID members. We’ll be arranging both a place for lunch and dinner so please join us for the day.

We will also be joined by special guests including:
– LCID Honorary Co-President Glenys Kinnock and Neil Kinnock
– LCID Vice-President Seb Dance MEP
– Laura Kyrke-Smith, Lord Malloch Brown’s speechwriter as Africa Minister, who will share her top five lessons from her time at the Foreign Office.

We will be meeting at Borough tube station entrance at 10.30am to campaign for Neil Coyle.

We will then head to Hampstead and Kilburn in the afternoon to campaign for Tulip Siddiq, meeting at 3pm at Swiss Cottage tube.

Hope you can join us! Please let us know you are coming by clicking here.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT – ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION, March 20th 2015

23 March 2015

We met on 20th March with Thangam Debbonaire, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Bristol West, Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, David Jepson, Chair, and 15 other people.

The Labour government made very significant progress in relation to international development, with cabinet member status, commitment and major progress to attaining the target of 0.7% and focus on poverty reduction and millennium development goals. It is being eroded by the current government -for example backbenchers voting against and attempts to divert money to aspects of military expenditure. If the government is re-elected, it seems likely that this will continue for political and financial reasons.

Labour will retain the commitment and build on this commitment including budget allocation of 0.7% and the focus on supporting fragile and conflict states and will also give priority to tackling inequality, workers’ rights / decent work and tackling climate change.

Our discussion suggested that workers’ rights should be a central theme to ensure fair pay as well as reasonable working and contractual conditions, including in more rapidly growing middle Income countries. It will help move towards a fair playing field for working people internationally. Corporate Social Responsibility for multinational companies in terms of their global employment practices, environmental impact and record on taxation. In addition to scope for government level intervention, there is also a role for consumer pressure and also support from the Labour Party and from trades unions too. We also felt that the impact of climate change was transcending other areas of intervention and needed to be a central feature. The current government do not accord a key priority to this and the debate is influenced by climate change deniers on the right of politics. A continued emphasis on education for all children for all should also be a priority for UK support.

We should aim to develop a more bottom up and community based approach to the development and fine tuning of policy and the delivery of support so harnessing the knowledge and experience of our communities. Communities in Bristol have veryconsiderable knowledge, from different perspectives. Drawing on this will help ensure that support has the maximum impact on those who need it. Local government should also play a role in this and Bristol’s twinning links could be used better in this respect. Within recipient countries, small scale, locally based community organisations should be able to access development funding as well as larger and more powerful international bodies. However, the strengthening of the capacity and accountability of national governments should not be undermined.

There are different streams of development funding that support development. Including multinational funding (such as the EU), national funding (such as DFID), international NGOs supported via donations etc. (such as Oxfam, Cafod, Save the Children) but we should not forget the streams of funding channelled directly from individuals and communities (for example to Somalia or Pakistan). The important role of remittances was raised and more effort needed to ease this process and make it more effective. Maybe match funding from DFID or other funders could be introduced. It was also suggested that a crowd funding mechanism could be used to channel and focus community resources to specific projects in recipient countries.

In relation to next steps, we agreed to build a data base of people with an interest in / commitment to international development and hold a further meeting. We would explore specific ideas on crowd funding of projects, the role of remittances and building on Bristol’s twinning links.

“Back in the Ivory Coast, I managed to get a pen, book and blackboard at my school only thanks to international aid.”

10 March 2015

by Ake Achi, LCID’s Unions and Affiliates Liaison Officer

Yesterday was the day the UK’s commitment to people in need reached another level.

As a former child labourer, I spent more time in my family’s plantations planting cocoa and cafe trees, and cooking their beans, than most people drink hot chocolate and coffee in a day.

The 0.7% target now enshrined into law is a great relief. LCID has led a great fight to win the battle, but we still have a war against poverty to win.

Back in the Ivory Coast, I managed to get a pen, book and blackboard at my school only thanks to international aid.

Although we must go beyond aid, for this victory, thank you to all the members of LCID who have been fighting like lions to make sure that international development remains a priority for the next Labour government.

LCID was there at every stage to ensure that the 0.7% target becomes a reality. On the behalf of my nephews and nieces who are still working in the plantations, I say thank you to you. You are the true friends of the people in developing countries.

0.7% aid law passes – thanks to Labour, and you.

9 March 2015

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Just a few minutes ago the bill to enshrine our country’s aid spending in law passed it’s final hurdle. It’s been voted through both Houses of Parliament and will soon be on the statute book.

Ten years after Labour first put Britain on the timetable to reaching the 0.7% target, and five years after Labour first proposed to enshrine our aid promise, the bill will soon be law.

It was touch and go at times, but Labour Peers were able to see off attempts by Tory Peers to wreck the bill in the House of Lords – including by their former Chancellor and the PM’s own father-in-law. It only got through the House of Commons because of Labour’s supportmore Labour MPs voted for the aid law than all the other Parties combined.

This victory belongs to all of us – Labour Party members, our representatives in Parliament and former Government Ministers alike – many of whom have been pushing for this moment for decades. Thank you to them. And thank you as well to every LCID supporter who encouraged MPs to vote for this bill – 1 in 4 of the Labour MPs who voted for the bill were LCID members or encouraged to attend the vote by LCID.

The law secures a key piece of our Party’s legacy – and ensures that in the coming years we in Britain continue to provide our fair share in the fight to make poverty history.

Change does not happen by chance – it happens by choice. We’ll be celebrating this victory, but then we’ll be doing all we can to help return a Labour Government in May so we can build on this achievement and help transform even more lives for the better. Poverty is political – fight it with us and come along to #DevelopmentDoorstep on 28th March!

Thank you again,

Charlie, Laura, Joe, David, Bethan, Sarah, Mann, Farah, Suzanne, Laura, Stuart, Billy, Namaa, Ake, and Mike.

2015: A Year of Opportunity for Women’s Rights

8 March 2015

Nowhere in the world are women and girls equal – violence affects women and girls in every corner of the globe, women are often excluded from fully and equally participating in decisions that affect their lives, and they often do not have control over their sexual and reproductive health and rights. However as a new report by Womankind Worldwide evidences, 2015 is a year of opportunity for women’s rights. Progress on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action – agreed in 1995 and seen as the most visionary and comprehensive framework on women’s rights and gender equality – is being reviewed. Furthermore, global discussions on the Post-2015 development framework (the follow up to the Millennium Development Goals) will culminate in autumn in a new development framework that will dictate funding priorities for years to come. And in October there is a 15-year Global Review of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 – which recognises women’s right to full and equal participation in peacebuilding. As an incoming Labour government, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to accelerate progress towards the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread and persistent abuses of human rights, with 35% of women experiencing at least one form of violence in her lifetime. Violence is rooted in gender inequality, including the patriarchal social norms related to male authority, acceptance of wife beating and female subordination. Recent years have seen an increase in commitments to tackle violence against women and girls. However, progress towards supporting survivors of abuse and preventing violence remains unacceptably slow. In addition, there is a worrying trend towards focusing on types of violence, for instance sexual violence in conflict. This obscures the interconnected nature of violence and risks the transformative approach needed to end abuse. As an incoming Labour government, we will have the opportunity to champion a robust indicator on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the Post-2015 framework. We can advocate a move beyond rhetoric and make a life without violence a reality for women and girls across the globe.

Women’s equal and meaningful participation and influence in decision making at all levels, and in both formal and informal spaces, is fundamentally a question of social justice – women have the right to participate in decisions which affect their lives. Despite this, only one in five parliamentarians are women, women account for only 13 of 193 heads of government and in local government women make up only 20% of elected councillors. Based on current trends in representation, women will not be equally represented in parliaments until 2065, and will not make up half the world’s leaders until 2134. Whilst women’s national level formal political participation is important, it is at the local level that many of the decisions that affect women’s rights take place. It is this context that makes the prioritisation of women’s participation at both national and local level so crucial. The Labour Party has an excellent track record of supporting women’s participation through all-women shortlists and has committed to a 50-50 cabinet on entering Number 10 – we therefore have both the legitimacy and experience to take forward women’s participation domestically and internationally.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights are a critical part of women’s rights. The ability of all women, including young women and adolescent girls, to exercise their reproductive rights to make free and informed choices about their fertility, and about whether and when to have children is a central component of gender equality. Access to contraception, based on informed choice, empowers women and girls to decide when to have children and can transform their position in the household, community, school, the labour force, political sphere and wider society. Pregnancy, unsafe abortion and childbirth remain the leading causes of death and disability among women of reproductive age in many countries today. Almost 800 women die every day in pregnancy and childbirth, largely from preventable causes. The Labour Party has long taken a right-based approach to development – this approach is critical to the achievement of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to safe abortion.

There is a growing body of research demonstrating that women’s rights organisations and women’s rights movements are important catalysts in interventions to promote greater gender equality, realise women’s rights and prevent violence against women and girls. Women’s rights organisations are particularly well placed to increase women’s consciousness and agency and have pioneered a range of effective models for mobilising and empowering women to come together to know and claim their rights. Despite their enormous value add, many women’s rights organisations are struggling to survive in the current aid environment marked by changed aid modalities, increasing competition for funding, and the heavy demands of the ‘results agenda’. The Association of Women’s Rights in Development’s (AWID) found in its global survey of 1119 women’s organisations from over 140 countries that 35% of organisations sampled experienced a significant budget shortfall, with one-fifth of organisations facing the threat of closure; and only 28% of women’s rights organisations surveyed received core funding and nearly half had never received core funding. We have a history of recognising the innovation, knowledge and experience of civil society organisations. A new Labour government can build on this recognition by providing flexible, core and long-term funding for women’s rights organisations.

2015 is a year of opportunity for women’s rights and it is a Labour government which can champion and secure the commitments needed to secure a future where gender equality is a reality for women and girls across the world

This Fairtrade Fortnight let’s Keep it Co-op

7 March 2015

by Karin Christiansen, Co-operative Party General Secretary and LCID Advisory Board member

This Fairtrade Fortnight, I wanted to share our Co-operative Party campaign to Keep it Co-op.

The Co-op was the first retailer in the UK to sell Fairtrade bananas and the first retailer in the world to carry the Fairtrade mark on its own brand products.

Its this commitment to Fairtrade, along with its support for progressive causes and because its owned by its members and not shareholders, that leads many of us go out of our way to shop at the Co-op.

But the Co-op could be about to break the century-old political link with the Co-operative Party which together with the Labour party has worked to support fair trade aboard and at home. The Co-op Party used its political representation to ensure that 590 Town Halls signed up to become Fairtrade Towns.

The Co-operative Party has launched the Keep it Co-op campaign which calls on the Co-op Group to keep the link and stay true to its ethics and progressive values.

You can support the campaign and check if you are one of the 2.6 million people who can vote to keep the link by visiting keepit.coop.

Thank you.

Keep It Co-op

 

Mary Creagh on the right role of the private sector in development

5 March 2015

Mary Creagh, Labour’s Next Development Secretary – speech on the role of the private sector in development

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In nine weeks, voters here in Cambridge will have a clear choice over the future direction of international development.

Five more years of a Tory government that treats the aid budget as charity.

Or a Labour government that will fight for justice for the world’s poorest.

Labour’s plan for development has three clear priorities.

First, we will renew Britain’s commitment to fragile and conflict affected states.

This Government’s target-driven culture has failed to focus on the difficult tasks of peacebuilding and nation-building.

A Labour government would tackle these challenges through long-term partnerships with developing countries

Second, we will lead the global fight against inequality.

We will ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals tackle the growing gap between the haves and have nots.

Our focus is on healthcare, climate change and human rights.

Healthcare, because Ebola has shown that the best way to protect against disease is to build a resilient, government funded health service.

Climate change because we know it hits the poorest hardest.

Human rights because we want women and girls and the disabled to participate fully in society.

LGBT communities to be free to love and marry whom they wish; and protection for indigenous peoples

And third – my focus today – is to ensure the private sector fully contributes to the success of developing countries.

Because without a thriving economy, without small and medium sized enterprises, and without long-term investment by the private sector: there will never be a world without aid.

This government thinks there is a simple answer: throw hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money into opaque private sector investment funds.

For example, the government increased its funding to the Private Infrastructure Development Group from £43m in 2010, to over £700m over the last three years.

This scale up has been criticised by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee.

In separate reports they slammed “weak oversight and a failure to achieve value for taxpayers money.”

Labour will work in a different way with businesses.

We know there are no quick fixes to create the conditions necessary for companies to thrive.

Economies are the result of the complex interaction of individuals, families, the state and firms.

Trust, traditions, institutions, rule of law, workers’ and consumers’ rights, banking all matter.

Businesses are vital to eradicating poverty and inequality.

But companies make choices about how they operate. We want to support them to make the right choices.

The right choice to treat workers with dignity and respect.

The right choice to ensure supply chains are ethical and sustainable.

And the right choice to pay tax where they operate.

First, workers’ rights.

One of the first acts of this Government was to cut DFID’s funding to the International Labour Organisation.

Labour will reverse this ideologically-driven decision – by reallocating within planned spending.

We will support trade unions to ensure the voice of workers is heard by government and companies alike.

There is no better route out of poverty than a job.

Labour. It’s our name.

But not just any job.

Not work that enslaves people.

Not work that keeps children out of school, trapped  in poverty.

Not work that is an affront to our common humanity and human dignity.

Every 15 seconds a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease

That’s over two million people a year.

168 million child workers.  A scar on the conscience of the world.

Some performing backbreaking work on family farms.

Some are sold into prostitution.

Others sew sequins onto clothes for pennies.

We cannot wait for another Rana Plaza disaster to clean up fashion’s dirty secret.

1,200 people killed – many making clothes for British shoppers.

And two years on the victims compensation fund is still nine million dollars short.

No more fashion victims.

Workers must have access to decent work, decent pay and rest breaks, and the freedom to join a trade union.

The right to negotiate pay and conditions, must be universal.

The last Labour government set up the Ethical Trading Initiative to encourage industry to work with unions and NGOs better to understand and address workers’ rights issues.

The ETI now has 84 members who employ over 10 million workers.

And in opposition, Labour MPs have strengthened the Modern Slavery bill.

We secured mandatory reporting by companies of what they are doing to eradicate slavery in their supply chains.

The public cares about how their food is made.

They need the tools to know about how their clothes and gadgets are made.

Labour will collaborate with governments, companies and NGOs to put an end to people working in lethal conditions and doing unacceptable work like manual cleaning of latrines.

Companies are often hesitant to be the first to make improvements which could leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

Governments – by setting clear standards – can ensure they all move together.

Governments can enact living wage legislation and inspect workplaces suspected of mistreating their workers.

And they will go a long way to tackle child labour if they make education compulsory.

Second, Labour will support sustainable supply chains.

The horse meat scandal showed us the scale and complexity of modern supply chains.

The desire for quick profits in the extractive and timber trades has left developing countries worse off.

Their natural resources forever depleted with little benefits to show.

In the worst cases resource extraction fuelled conflict

In government Labour established the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to shine a light onto companies’ oil, gas and mineral operations.

Because nobody wants a blood diamond on their engagement ring.

Companies know that they are responsible for the environmental and social sustainability of their activities.

And given 200 corporations account for around a tenth of the world’s output – their improvements can quickly have a large impact.

A national approach to supply chains is not enough in a globalised world.

We need an international approach that follows the supply chain across borders.

Businesses know that if they don’t have sustainability at the core of their business then they don’t have a sustainable business.

Labour will do more to champion sustainable supply chains.

We need to change market conditions and create market incentives for suppliers.

Fairtrade accounts for over £1.7bn of revenue each year in the UK alone.

We will work with the EU and others to extend such schemes and to incentivise companies that want to do the right thing.

DFID must use its existing budget to do more to help the bodies that certify good business behaviour.

I want to hear proposals to deepen and broaden their reach.

This might include improving production techniques or sustainability.

I also want government to look at how it can better fund tripartite groups in developing countries.

Companies, workers representatives and civil society groups should work together to shine a light on supply chains and how to improve them.

We will help those who already do this to communicate it to the public to give people a clearer choice over what they buy.

Finally, taxation.

Only when countries have a tax base that enables them to provide basic public goods – health, education and the rule of law – will the private sector thrive.

States need the capacity to enact and enforce modern tax laws and to collect tax revenues.

This government has not done enough in this area.

In government, Labour showed what is possible.

Working in partnership with the Government of Rwanda, we invested £20m to create the Rwandan Revenue Authority.

In its first year it collected £60 million pounds, three times our initial investment.

Last year it collected £713 million pounds – over £2m pounds a day.

Labour will at least double the funding for Britain’s support to such interventions.

DFID must do more to assist developing countries to ensure companies pay their taxes.

This means tackling corruption, and stopping race-to-the bottom tax competition.

In government Labour acted with cross party support to bring in the Bribery Act to tackle corruption.

We made it a crime to bribe, to be bribed and to bribe foreign public officials.

This has forced companies to audit their activities and has changed the way companies behave around the world.

Ed Miliband has made clear that tax dodging by UK based companies will be treated seriously  – unlike recent cases under this Government.

This costs both the British economy and developing countries billions of pounds.

Developing countries lose three times as much every year in tax receipts as they receive in combined global aid.

This scandal is why Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, has led a High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows with the African Union and UN.

African leaders are sending a clear signal that they plan to clamp down on the loss of more than $50bn dollars of tax revenues a year from Africa.

Labour will clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance in our first Budget.

We will close loopholes, increase transparency and bring in tough deterrents.

We will work to secure a multilateral agreement to force companies to publish what taxes they pay, and where.

And if that is not possible, we will discuss with businesses the best way to introduce a public country-by-country reporting format on a unilateral basis.

The UK will lead by example by compelling the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to stop companies hiding behind a wall of secrecy.

Ed Miliband has put them on notice: they will have six months to open their books or face being placed on an OECD blacklist.

We will ensure that changes to UK tax rules are assessed for their impact on the poor.

For too long, developing countries have been left out of discussions on tax evasion.

Labour will ensure that they have a seat at the table.

The private sector is essential to development.

It is time for companies to put corporate social responsibility at the heart of their boards, and to work in partnership with governments and donors.

Companies do well when countries do well, when people do well and when they have a secure sustainable supply chain.

Governments setting and enforcing the regulatory environment, and encouraging the private sector to make more sustainable investments.

It means a living wage, and end to child and bonded labour, and a dignified route out of poverty.

It means upholding the highest environmental standards.

And it means paying taxes when and where they are due.

A common aim for sustainable and inclusive growth.

A Labour vision for growth.

I hope that in 62 days time we will have a Labour government to make this a reality.

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