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LCID Achievements 2015

18 December 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, we look back on some of LCID’s achievements for the year – and we’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has supported us this year, from our members to our Honorary Presidents, our Advisory Board and our Executive Committee.

LCID achievements

2015 highlights

  • Convening internationalists in the party:
  • Hosted ‘Labour in the World’ event (January 2015), bringing together the Shadow Foreign, Development, Defence and DECC Secretaries on a panel to discuss international priorities for Labour ahead of the 2015 election. Brought together 20+ international groups within the party as co-hosts
  • Hosted launch of Glenys Kinnock/ Stephen Doughty pamphlet on Beyond Aid (March 2015), attended by a number of our members
  • Supported Labour’s International Development Event with Ed Miliband (May 2015), attended by a number of our members
  • Hosted Parliamentary Reception for new Researchers (July 2015), to brief them on LCID’s work. Attended by 40+ Parliamentary staff
  • Hosted International Rally at party conference (September 2015), together with BOND, bringing together 15+ speakers on international development, including Hilary Benn, Stephen Twigg, Ray Collins
  • Election campaigning:
    • Developed Development on the Doorstep campaign pack with the Shadow team, sent out to all MPs via Stephen Doughty
    • Monthly updates for PPCs with development campaigning ideas
    • LCID members campaigned in 10+ seats with pro- international development candidates including Catherine West, Neil Coyle, Tulip Siddiq, Purna Sen, Alison McGovern, Gareth Thomas, Daniel Zeichner
  • Promoting debates and raising the profile of development online:
    • Updated LCID video
    • 6% increase in blogs and website page views (13,531 per month on average in 2015, compared to 12,737 in 2014)
    • Reached 2.5k followers on Twitter
    • 8k likes on Facebook
  • Policy influencing:
    • International Development Committee Beyond Aid report launched (January 2015), echoing many points from LCID’s submission
    • Briefings for Mary Creagh and team
    • Meetings with other shadow cabinet members, MPs
    • Support for the 0.7% bill campaign
    • International pledge for 2015 Leadership candidates
  • Outreach and meetings with third sector:
    • Hosted NGO roundtable with Gareth Thomas MP (December 2014)
    • Hosted ‘First 100 days of next government’ NGO roundtable to agree on asks of the next Labour government, with representatives from 10+ NGOs (March 2015)
  • Growing our membership:
  • Our membership has grown and we now have 203 members

LCID Election Results

16 December 2015

Thank you to everyone who voted in our Executive elections and attended our AGM yesterday.

We are pleased to announce that the following people where elected to our Exec:

David Taylor
Bethan Twigg
Laura Kyrke-Smith
Mann Virdee
Farah Nazeer
Suzanne Foster
Anna Gelderd
Elliot Perkins
Stuart McWilliam
Mike Buckley
Aaron Cohen-Gold
Billy Hill
Simon Beresford
Juan Leahy
Samuel Rushworth

Thank you to every candidate who took part.

LCID AGM 2015

9 December 2015

LCID's New Exec
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LCID’s AGM will take place on Tuesday 15th December at 6.30pm in the House of Commons, Committee Room 7.

Speakers include International Development Select Committee Chair Stephen Twigg MP, and LCID Honorary Vice-President Alison McGovern MP.

Please note this is for LCID members only – you can join here.

Tackling climate change promotes sustainable development; 2015 Paris Climate Conference – COP21

5 December 2015

By Seb Dance, MEP

It is rare that you are able to work on two areas that not only interest you but which overlap. I am fortunate enough in the European Parliament to sit on both the Development and Environment Committees. The two are of course intrinsically linked, and this link is no more important than in the context of the UN climate change conference taking place in Paris.

The green growth summit

The green growth summit

The extent to which committees work with one another varies but what has struck me most in my time in the Parliament is that the best policy comes when people look at issues in the round. For example, development policy can and should lead to sustainable projects which promote biodiversity, while environmental legislation aimed at illegal logging can help combat the corrosive presence of armed militia in many developing nations.

All the data shows that we are missing targets and missing the bigger picture. Science suggests some of our policies on climate change will contribute to further conflict, degrade arable land and decrease water supplies, contributing to a mass movement of people as swathes of the planet become less hospitable.

Some twenty million people were displaced in 2013. If temperatures continue to climb at the current rate, this would rise to 150 million displaced people by 2050. To put that into context some 750,000 refugees are estimated to have arrived in Europe from Syria and other blighted states this year.

The scale of this possible mass movement of people is staggering and unprecedented. But it can be mitigated, and part of the challenge we face is to make policy coherence across development and environmental issues absolutely crystal clear.

The discord between Union-wide policy and the widely different approaches of each Member-State is the main stumbling block. Many European nations are failing to join to dots between good domestic environmental policy, security and well-managed migration.

The UK government is failing to take the lead on tackling climate change, scrapping support for renewable industries like solar and wind and falling way behind on European renewable energy targets. They have perpetuated a false choice between cutting energy bills and taking action on the environment, pitting the poorest at home against impoverished people abroad.

I find it astonishing that the connection is rarely made between mitigating climate change and promoting global security. For too long we have been sleepwalking into a future defined by climate change and its consequences.

We need agreement in Paris, not the stalemate and recriminations that scarred the talks in Copenhagen.

Elections and AGM 2016 – Get Involved

19 November 2015
The LCID Exec with Ed Miliband and our Honorary Co-President Glenys Kinnock

The LCID Exec with Ed Miliband and our Honorary Co-President Glenys Kinnock

Elections for the LCID Executive Committee will take place between the 1st-14th December this year.

All LCID members are eligible (and strongly encouraged) to stand.

Nominations are now open

We are opening nominations today and inviting members to put themselves forward for election.

We are keen for anyone who is interest to stand, but you need to be a member to both stand and to vote. Not a member? Go to lcid.org.uk/join and join today.

We are looking for 15 LCID members to take us forward with a range of skills and experience that might include some of the following:

  • Helping deliver a conference on internationalism in late 2016
  • Electoral campaigning
  • Building our membership
  • Building alliances and working across the labour movement – such as Trade Unions, CLPs, Coops and other Socialist Societies
  • Financial and organisational governance
  • Communications such as social media and blog editing

Nominations are encouraged from a broad range of members to reflect the diversity of our membership, including in terms of gender, ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. LCID is also keen to maintain a balance between those who work within the sector and also passionately interested members from the wider movement.

Executive Committee members are expected to make a significant contribution through their agreed area of responsibility and joint projects. The Executive meets every month with additional Advisory Board meetings where appropriate. Dialling in to meetings enables members to participate from across the UK and nominations are particularly welcome from the devolved nations.

If you think you could help us take forward our mission as part of a team, please submit your nomination, along with a statement no more than 80 words, to elections@lcid.org.uk before 6pm on Monday 30th November.

Online voting will take place between the 1st-14th December and successful candidates will take office at the close of the AGM the following day.

AGM

LCID’s AGM will take place on Tuesday 15th December at 6.30pm in the House of Commons, Committee Room 7. Confirmed speakers include LCID Honorary President and Shadow Foreign Minister Stephen Doughty MP. Please note this is for LCID members only.

Kate Osamor MP reports back from Zambia on why the UK should be proud of our aid budget

13 November 2015

Kate Osamor, Labour & Co-operative MP for Edmonton and PPS to Jeremy Corbyn, visited Zambia this summer with RESULTS UK

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Kate Osamor MP (centre right) at George Compound Clinic, Lusaka, with fellow UK MPs (from bottom left clockwise: Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Oliver Colvile MP, and Stuart Andrew MP) and George Compound Clinic Staff (from left: Lucy, District Charge Nurse, Heidi, Clinic Sister in Charge, Project Director Dr William Kilembe behind, from right: Clinic Doctor and Administrator.)

I was incredibly honoured to be elected to Parliament this May, and I’m determined to fight for the best deal for my constituents under this Conservative Government. My constituency, Edmonton in North London, is a place of huge contrasts and inequality. There’s prosperity but there’s also real poverty, and areas with some of the highest unemployment levels in the country. I’ve spoken with so many local people doing their best but still struggling to get by and worried about the future. Regeneration activity is crucial to bring new jobs, as is better education, health, and transport – and it’s my job to fight for better opportunities and living standards for local people.

As a Labour and Co-operative Party MP, I also firmly believe in solidarity with others fighting for a better life, whether it’s in this country or on the other side of the world.  Visiting relatives in Nigeria taught me from a young age that people share the same aspirations, whether they’re struggling local entrepreneurs in London or in Lagos. It was a Labour Government that set up the Department for International Development back in 1997, and I’m committed to pushing for the UK to be a force for good in people’s lives wherever they live.

Medicines funded by UK aid, such as these at Kanyama Clinic, Lusaka, have helped significantly decrease rates of HIV and TB in Zambia over the past decade

Medicines funded by UK aid, such as these at Kanyama Clinic, Lusaka, have helped significantly decrease rates of HIV and TB in Zambia over the past decade

This means knowing what’s happening on the ground – and if the 0.7 pence per £1 of national income spent by the UK on aid is working or not. So last month, I joined MPs from across the political parties in visiting Zambia with the charity RESULTS UK, to find out how UK aid money is being invested in health. There are many things needed for a country to improve living standards, but the evidence shows that spending on health – from family planning to disease prevention and nutrition – can be one of the most high-impact, cost-effective ways to make a long-term difference.

Before coming to Parliament, I spent 15 years working in the NHS for a GP Co-operative and more recently as a Surgery Practice Manager. I‘ve seen first-hand how people are held back if they can’t get the care and services they need – and why we need to fight for the NHS in this country. What I saw in Zambia on my very first day in the capital city, Lusaka, reinforced this. At a local Government-run clinic in George Compound, a poor, inner-city area, the queues stretched out of the door. Young mothers sat with their babies, quietly waiting all day. Heidi, the young sister in charge and our host, explained that one doctor was on hand to treat 1,000 patients a day, in a small area covering 120,000 people.

A young boy looks after his families’ cattle at the farmstead in Chongwe District, rural Zambia

A young boy looks after his families’ cattle at the farmstead in Chongwe District, rural Zambia

I shouldn’t have been surprised – after years of colonial under-development and post-independence instability, Zambia is a still very poor country. Its recent re-classification as a ‘Middle Income Country’ obscures the fact that increasing copper prices and extraction have pushed up some high incomes, whilst the vast majority of people remain poor, with unmet basic needs and without secure work. Zambia is the ninth most unequal country in the world. Donor countries like the UK should be very careful about withdrawing aid from such countries, assuming the need has gone down, or that Governments are already in a position to collect and allocate enough taxes to step in. It would be like pulling away the rug, just when there’s a chance of working with Governments to create more equitable growth and development.

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Kate Osamor MP at the National Assembly of Zambia, Lusaka, with fellow MPs, Aeras staff and Zambian civil society health campaigners from CITAM+

But for this to happen, of course Governments must do more. We asked several people how much of Government spending goes on health – including the Zambian Minister for Health, an intelligent man and clearly a skilled politician who is very aware of creating ‘too much demand for the supply’ he receives from his Treasury colleagues – and received a different answer each time, of between 4-11%. Each answer was below the recommended 15%. The UK Government must pressure their opposites in countries like Zambia – and support civil society campaigners like we met from health pressure group ‘CITAM+’ – to make sure spending goes up as quickly as possible, including by supporting better tax systems and tackling the outrage that is international tax avoidance.

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Kate Osamor MP and Stuart Andrew MP take part in a weighing session at a mobile UNICEF vaccination clinic at a local school in Kanyama

Equitable development means reaching everyone, especially those who need it most – and this often means investing in women and children. I’m passionate that all women have the right to avoid a life of repeated pregnancy, poor health and poverty. The UK Government is right to prioritise women and children’s health – it must now press others to follow this lead, and to make sure that the poorest and hardest to reach women and their children are targeted. Women will be quick to respond to such opportunities: at a mobile vaccination clinic at the local rural school, run by UNICEF and supported by a UK-funded global initiative called Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance, the mothers had set up an impromptu market and were earning extra cash while they waited for their babies to be immunised. The results achieved by Gavi are huge – the number of child deaths a year has halved since it was set up in 2000, and as we saw in Zambia, these immunisation sessions also give doctors the chance to share family planning advice.

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Elias Lungwe dispenses basic medicines and advice as the Community Health Assistant for the rural area of Kanyongoloka

There are big challenges in a country like Zambia. One is the sheer size of the country, and it was heartbreaking to hear nurses at a rural hospital speak of the young dad whose son died in his arms just as he arrived at the hospital following a two day walk. The UK is helping here too, training an army of new rural Community Health Assistants. We were bowled over by the commitment and care of 23 year old Elias, a quietly spoken but inspiring young man who was so proud to have been selected for the job of running his local health post, providing basic health advice and commodities to rural homesteads. It is vital that this sort of work to strengthen health systems is sustained – prevention is so much better than crisis, as we have seen in the tragedies of HIV and Ebola.

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Kate Osamor MP and Stuart Andrew MP talk with Dr Kilembe’s team at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiatve (IAVI) laboratory in Lusaka

Diseases of poverty like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis present another huge challenge. HIV affected 12% of all adults at its peak last decade, and again it has only been through global initiatives such as the UK-funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, that this has now dropped. But countries like Zambia still face a huge treatment bill, and will need better ways of protecting their people in the long-term, such as an HIV vaccine and better TB drugs and vaccines. We met with Dr William Kilembe and his team of Zambian scientists working for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in their Lusaka laboratory, and with the team at Aeras who are working on a new TB vaccine. The science they’re working on is world-class, but it can’t continue without strong global support. We’ve reached a point where diseases like HIV and TB are no longer automatically a death sentence in places like Zambia, and now have the opportunity to push for the end of these epidemics. This is worth remembering when people tell you things ‘can’t be done’ – especially in December, when the Global Fund will begin its next call for funding.

Reflecting on the challenges I saw in Zambia, it seems important to remember what we’ve achieved in just the last fifteen years. Annual child deaths cut by half around the world, saving 6 million children’s lives a year. 15 million people on HIV treatment and 37 million deaths from tuberculosis prevented. Life expectancies increasing and helping to raise incomes and living standards. Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that UK aid and partnerships are something to be proud of. I’d say it’s worth keeping up our work with people like Heidi, Elias, and Dr Kilembe, and committing to do our bit to tackle poverty and inequality, whether it’s found in the UK or much further afield.

For more information on RESULTS UK’s work on global poverty and health, please contact laura.boughey@results.org.uk

 

Turning a mirror – Understanding China’s role as an emerging development actor

22 October 2015

By Jessica Toale

China’s role as an emerging development actor has come under much scrutiny in recent years. We have all heard stories of exploitative working practices, unfair natural resources deals, land grabbing and white elephant projects. These all feed a narrative of an aggressive and neo-colonial China out to upset the existing global order. The reality, however, is much more nuanced and requires a better understanding of China’s own development and motivations. It also requires us to turn a mirror on our own practice.

At the beginning of the year I wrote for a Young Fabians pamphlet on China’s emerging development practices and the potential to develop a stronger strategic political relationship between the UK and China through development cooperation. Last week I also led a delegation of Young Fabians to Beijing to explore the UK-China relationship and gained more insight into the social and economic drivers of contemporary China.

China’s development policy is driven by the principles of mutual benefit, non-interference and non-conditionality. Indeed, many of our Chinese hosts last week advocated for the need to find common ground in Sino-British relations and to put our differences to one side. This philosophy of non-interference is deeply ingrained and predicated on a strong policy of establishing national security. In fact, much of China’s foreign policy is aimed at securing power at home.

China, itself a developing country, is not bound by OECD definitions of official development assistance, nor does it see itself as an aid donor in the traditional sense.  Rather, it sees itself as an equal partner to many of the countries in which it invests. Its experience of successfully lifting 600million people out of poverty is a significant achievement. The need to secure economic stability at home, open up and diversify its economy and promote a preferred national image have been major drivers of its development activities overseas.

During our delegation to Beijing we met with young trade unionists at the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, China’s trade union umbrella organisation, one of whom was responsible for overseeing all Chinese workers in Africa.

He explained the Chinese companies investing in Africa are providing the essential infrastructure these countries need to develop and that the incentives for Chinese workers to transfer overseas are very high. The reason for the use of Chinese workers in these locations is that in many cases the labour markets are extremely underdeveloped and lack the skills base needed to construct many of these infrastructure projects. He cited Angola as an example where the civil war had all but decimated the skills base. He and his colleague also described some of the training and development work that these Chinese companies undertake to improve the local workforce.

Interestingly, he also described a recent conference which brought together governments, businesses and civil society from China, Norway and East Africa to discuss who they can improve CSR aspects of their projects in the region.

Much of this conversation sat in line with the 2014 White Paper which China released which places greater emphasis on poverty reduction, improving livelihoods, promoting economic and social development and shifting their spend focus to Least Developed Countries.

Our hosts had a number of questions about UK and OECD country engagement in Africa and what we meant by “development”. It was fascinating to compare the two approaches and the much greater focus that we put on human development and capacity building at government and civil society level.

However it is important to recognise that our own approaches are far from perfect. The reporting and policy conditionalities Western Government’s impose on aid spend which are too onerous for African Governments, interference in the affairs of developing country governments, contradictory policies, exceptionalism, selective adherence to international treaties, failing to provide the type of aid African Governments need and want at speed, and unsustainable 3-year project funding horizons are often cited as criticisms of Western aid donor approaches.

In many cases our foreign policy objective flat out contradict themselves – our desire to be defenders of human rights, yet our tendency to turn a blind eye in regimes who are our allies; our humanitarian support in conflict zones which are also full of weapons provided by the British aerospace industry; our desire to be a global leader on tax transparency but failing to get our own house in order, to name a few. This is something that the UK Government needs to take a serious look at if we are to gain the trust and respect on the international scene that we want.

President Xi’s visit to the UK this week shines a light on various aspects of the UK-China relationships from trade deals and football to the more sensitive aspects of our political relationship like China’s record on human rights.

Turning a mirror on our practice to ensure that our domestic and international priorities are aligned is essential. If we are to develop a robust political relationship with China, yes we must find a way to discuss sensitive issues like human rights which form a core part of our and the international communities core values, but we must also ensure that we are in a position to provide credible leadership on these subjects.

 

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