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Scottish independence: Yes vote risks foreign aid

21 August 2014

An article in The Scotsman by Andrew Whitaker, reported that hundreds of civil service jobs in international development would be lost to Scotland after a Yes vote, with a weakening of the effort to tackle global poverty and deeps cuts in aid to poorer nations.

The article explained that Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch, had warned MSPs of an “unacceptable” threat to the jobs and the end of Dfid’s presence in Scotland, which she claimed was worth tens of millions of pounds to the local economy. She added that a Yes vote would lead to the “fragmentation” of aid to the world poorest and the loss of half of the UK’s budget to help poverty stricken nations – a package of support delivered from Difid in East Kilbride that she claimed would equate to a £1 billion cut in humanitarian support.

Ms McCulloch claimed there was a “positive, progressive, humanitarian reason” to reject independence in the debate.” She concluded “The International Development Select Committee expect the East Kilbride office, which contributes £30 million to the local economy, to close within five years of a Yes vote.”

To read the full transcript of the debate, click here.

 

The UK Is A World Leader In Development – For Labour, That’s A Source Of Pride

14 August 2014

GlobeBy Jim Murphy, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

On September 12, MPs will have the chance to enshrine the UK’s commitment to international aid in law.

Click here to see why Labour are supporting the 0.7% legislation.

If you want your MP to back the Bill then write to them and tell them why.

 

OneONE are asking people in the UK to send an email to their MPs to vote on 12th, using this very simple one click form.

We Must Invest in an AIDS Vaccine

1 August 2014

By Baroness Gould of Potternewton, Co-Chair of the Sexual Heath Forum and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual Health

Baroness GouldThis Tuesday I was fortunate to observe first-hand the work being done to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine, here in London at a laboratory at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

This work is being carried out by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). Since 1998, they have been co-ordinating and leading clinical trials with partners across the world to find the approaches and compounds with the most potential. We were welcomed by Dr Martin McMorrow and Dr Phillip Bergen, who explained the scale of the challenge facing their team: the HIV virus varies far more widely between strains, and between countries, than any other infectious disease we are fighting.

The need for an HIV/AIDs vaccine cannot be doubted. As Co-Chair of the Sexual Heath Forum and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual Health, I have long been convinced of the severity of the burden that this disease places on communities in the UK and overseas.

HIV/AIDS kills 1.6 million people a year, making it the most deadly infectious disease globally. It disproportionally affects those in developing countries, and people who are in their most productive years. In doing so, it deprives these countries of workers and caregivers, and increases healthcare costs.

Groups who already have less voice in society are also more at risk from HIV. 57% of new infections globally are in women, who often have less say in decisions that affect their sexual health such as whether to use a condom. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for women of child-bearing age in sub-Saharan Africa. Due to how the disease is transmitted, prevalence rates among gay men are much higher than in the adult population. Worryingly, some governments are now introducing laws to make it even harder to reach gay men by further criminalising same-sex relations.

It has been encouraging to see increased efforts and partnerships inflate the number of people who can access treatment to nearly 10 million a year – such as through the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. I am proud that the last Labour Government was a leading supporter of this work, and glad that the current Government have upheld the UK commitment. The spread of the disease has now slowed – but it will not be controlled without further bold decisions.

No disease in history has ever been controlled without a vaccine. Half of the HIV-positive population still does not know their status, and for every three people who access treatment, another four acquire HIV. Nor do we have the resources to control this disease through treatment alone, though it is a very important part of the solution. Ultimately, vaccines are much cheaper and more effective, and when used in conjunction with treatment and education, could spell the end for HIV/AIDS.

As Dr Bergen explained, the science may be challenging but it is producing exciting results. Clinical trials in 2009 found compounds that acted to create ‘neutralising antibodies’ that can stop infected cells reproducing, and subsequent work has refined this approach. IAVI has set up partnerships with private companies to develop any compounds identified in the next stages of its research.

I was concerned however, to hear that funding from the UK Government to IAVI has fallen in recent years, from £40 million from 2008 to 2013, to just £5 million in this current period. While it is both important and laudable to fund treatments that save lives now, it is also important to fund the research and development that will create the drugs to control these diseases in the long term.

It seems apparent that the current model of funding drug research and development has left us waiting on private companies to deliver these new drugs. For the so-called ‘neglected diseases of poverty’ like HIV/AIDs, TB and Malaria, which kill 14 million people a year between them but offer no short-term returns on investment, we may be waiting for a very long time. On the other hand, partnerships between Government, private companies, and philanthropic foundations (so-called ‘Product Development Partnerships’ such as IAVI) have been producing results, as they combine government-backed investment and interest in public health needs with the capital and capacity of the private sector.

Partnerships such as IAVI require significant long-term investment and support, and we need the UK Government – and other governments – to show leadership and pledge this support. A Labour Government with Jim Murphy leading our development work has already nailed its colours to the mast. We have pledged to support fairness around the world, with good health and the benefits it brings central to this vision. We will need an HIV/AIDS vaccine to turn this vision into reality, and so I for one am calling on all Parties to support IAVI and partnerships like them.

For more information about IAVI and their work, visit www.iavi.org.

For information about the importance of supporting research and development of drugs for diseases of poverty, such as HIV/AIDS – and about the ways we can do this, such as Product Development Partnerships – please visit www.results.org.uk.

The Right to Education

15 July 2014

By Alison McGovern MP, Shadow Minister for International Development

Recently, the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian girls has received widespread publicity and anger from across the globe. These issues must not fade from the public eye.  Just because the news agenda moves on, the suffering does not lessen, and the careful work to return the girls (and all those abducted) to safety must continue.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian finance minister recently joined members of both houses of parliament, hosted by Mr Speaker Bercow, and Gordon Brown who, in his role as a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education has worked with the Nigerian Government on the Safer Schools Initiative, which seeks to provide a safe environment for girls to go to school in the country.  Ngozi’s speech, was clear about the complexities involved, however and the wide consequences of the actions of the terrorist organisation behind the kidnappings.

All children getting to school is vital for countries such as Nigeria that has seen significant recent economic growth. Therefore, it is imperative that we do not let the inexcusable actions of Boko Haram make girls across Nigeria – and indeed all of Africa – feel so insecure at their schools that they simply cannot attend their lessons. As a consequence, the Nigerian government has put together their Safer Schools Initiative, in an effort to provide perimeters of fence around schools, alarm systems, sanitary facilities and basic commodities that were to be shown to be painfully lacking in many schools across Nigeria.

Girls and women have every right to wish to take part in the economic development of their country.  Without access to education, they will be unable to fulfil their potential, and live out their dreams and aspirations.

So this campaign is of utmost importance.  Labour is an advocate for this right to education, and our work in establishing DFID has underpinned the UK Government’s role in resolving this crisis.  We will continue to speak up for all children unable to go to school, wherever they are in the world.  And only when all children can learn should this campaign cease.

Join IPPR and LCID for their upcoming events this Monday

12 July 2014

IPPR Legislating for 0.7% aid 

 

IPPRLegislating for 0.7% aid with Rt Hon Michael Moore MP

Monday 14th July

16:00 – 17:00

IPPR offices, 4th Floor, 14 Buckingham Street, London WC2N 6DF

Why should Britain spend more as a proportion of GNI on overseas aid that any other G8 country? Having met the UN’s 0.7% target, why should the UK now lock that spending level in through legislation?

Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore will explain why and discuss how he is building cross party consensus to back his recently introduced Private Members Bill.

Please register here to confirm your place.

 

LCID Parliamentary Panel 70 years on from Bretton Woods: Time for a new era of economic cooperation?

You are warmly invited to join the Labour Campaign for International Development at our parliamentary panel event to mark 70 years since Bretton Woods.
lcid-logo

Date: Monday 14th July 2014
Time: 6.30pm – 7.45pm
Location: Committee Room 6, Houses of Parliament

 

 

Speakers:

  • Chris Leslie MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
  • Alison McGovern MP, Shadow Minister for International Development
  • John Christensen, Tax Justice Network
  • Petra Kjell, Bretton Woods Project
  • Kitty Ussher, Tooley Street Research (Chair)

Less than a month after the D-Day landings, delegates from the forty-four Allied nations met in New Hampshire to create a new economic settlement for the post-war world. The economic planners who signed the Bretton Woods Agreement on 22 July 1944 understood the vital role that economic cooperation had to play in rebuilding a war-ravaged world.The economic challenges that the world faces today are different but stark: economic growth is failing to lift millions out of poverty in the developing world; a global youth unemployment crisis stretches throughout the world; and we face a catastrophic threat from climate change. None of these challenges will be successfully tackled by economies acting in isolation.

This high-level panel event will question what have been the lessons of the Bretton Woods model of economic cooperation and consider how its institutions have fared. The event is open to members and non-members alike; please register your attendance by email so we can keep track of numbers. Please leave 30 minutes to enter through security into the Houses of Parliament and use the Cromwell Green entrance.

Coalitions of Conscience

11 July 2014

By Dr. Graham Giles MBE, LCID Executive Committee

Labour Affiliates can punch above their weight on matters of moral responsibility by standing together, not least on the future aid budget.   Christians on the Left are providing resources to help local church groups up and down the country to become more active in local and national politics.  Labour Campaign for International Development has launched its door-step guide to give PPCs a really positive narrative about the values of British aid.  In his ‘CotL’ blog Rev Graham Hunter reminded that our historic heroes built coalitions of conscience to speak up for the interests of the downtrodden, marginalised and powerless.   We seek, he wrote, ‘to build a broad coalition to campaign for the goals of historic Christian Socialism, namely, equality, justice, the fight against poverty, and the battle for human dignity’.  On this LCID and CotL stand shoulder to shoulder.

I took two hours out recently to watch the movie “Belle”.  Dido Belle was the 18th  Century illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield’s nephew Admiral Sir John Lindsay and an African slave Maria Belle. Set at a time of legal significance when a court case is heard on what became known as the Zong massacre.  Children, women and men were thrown overboard from a slave ship and the owner filed with his insurance company for ‘cargo’ losses. Lord Mansfield ruled on this case in England’s Court of King’s Bench in a decision which contributed to the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies.  After the first trial, freed slave Olaudah Equiano brought news of the massacre to the attention of anti-slavery campaigners, who worked unsuccessfully to have the ship’s crew prosecuted for murder.

An 1839 book on coalitions of conscience that achieved the Abolition of the African Slave Trade, included an account of the Zong killings.  This influenced the artist Turner, who displayed a painting The Slave Shipat the Royal Academy 1840 summer exhibition.  Turner depicted a vessel from which slaves had been thrown into the sea to be devoured by sharks. Details in the painting, such as shackles worn by the slaves, were influenced by illustrations in the book.  Guilded frames in English galleries contain uncomfortable truths.  Johann Zoffany’s portrait of Dido Belle with her white cousin Lady Elizabeth, and Turner’s ‘The Slave Ship both demonstrate that progress in social behaviour and international convention have not been easy voyages for Britain.  The fight goes on, not least to stem the tide of human trafficking, racial intolerance and social isolationism.

Dido Belle was obliged to dine alone in a mansion to avoid offending guests at the Earl’s table.  We still need vocal alliances for social justice, to challenge conscience, humble hubris, and energise international economic ethics.  Nationalism and white-supremacy are not quite silent yet.  An English Boadicea was caught on the evening news declaring ‘they should remember who puts food on their tables’. Our political messengers cannot preserve public favour by means of ambiguity.  International Development is a hot issue it’s not a hot potato.  Overseas aid and enlightened internationalism require coherent collaboration between Labour movement affiliates to guarantee that our leaders do not stand silently by.  Boat people and victims of exploitation in 2014 need our British better conscience to behave generously.  When good people remain tight-lipped evil euphemisms triumph.

The next Labour Government must fight for the poorest abroad, as well as at home

9 July 2014

By Mike Smith,  LCID’s Executive Committee 

2015 will be a decisive year, not just because the General Election gives Labour the chance to regain power, but because it is the year when global leaders decide both what will replace the Millennium Development Goals and look to agree a new deal on climate change. The stakes couldn’t be higher.  The Labour movement has always recognised that our commitment to social justice and that the need to end poverty doesn’t stop at our shores. Now is the chance to put forward a bold and distinctively-Labour foreign and development policy platform.

What should this foreign policy approach encompass? The Labour Campaign for International Development has put forward some compelling ideas to the party’s ‘Britain’s Global Role’ policy commission.  Our submission outlined three practical themes: making social justice Britain’s number one foreign policy priority; an activist Britain, showing leadership on the world stage to bring other countries with us; and ensuring that Britain’s domestic policies are in line with our development objectives, rather than undermining them.

Of course, anyone can produce fluffy statements of intent, but LCID have gone further outlining a wide number of innovative and deliverable policies.  Importantly, these draw a link between Labour’s vision of Britain under the next government, and the role the UK should play in the world.  For example, LCID has called for a Labour government to lead a global campaign for universal health coverage – the NHS as a priority at home, universal health as a priority abroad.  We have called for a future Labour government to work for an ambitious and fair deal on climate change – green investment and jobs at home, with a bold climate agreement a key foreign policy priority.  And there’s even scope for extending Labour’s vision of responsible capitalism into aspects of a coherent foreign policy – limit zero hours contracts in the UK, but also commit to supporting the UN’s framework on promoting human rights in business in all countries.

Linking Labour’s domestic priorities to a foreign policy platform is not only the right thing to do to help build a fairer world, but also provides another layer to Labour’s story about the values it believes in and the type of country and world the party wants to build.

With the 2015 General Election only 10 months away, now is the time for the party to put forward a serious foreign policy and development strategy.  This would be a welcome shot in the arm to the party’s credibility to govern.  Not because voters raise these issues on the doorstep – we all know they don’t – but because it demonstrates that Labour are ready to govern what is still one of the most important countries on the international stage.  This foreign policy vision, backed up with hard policy proposals, would also contrast with the Coalition government’s approach over the last 4 years.  A handful of standalone positives aside (realising the commitment to 0.7% aid spending and the leadership shown on preventing sexual violence in conflict spring to mind) it feels increasingly difficult to discern what Britain’s approach is, or what our country stands for in international affairs.

If Labour wins power next year, Ed Miliband will lead the country with the 7th largest economy in the world, the 2nd largest aid budget and the 4th largest defence budget. He will lead a country that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a strong voice in the G7, G20 and (fingers crossed!) the European Union. Labour Governments have a proud record of working for people suffering injustice around the world.  The party should use this summer to show why and how the next Labour Government would fight for the poorest and most vulnerable abroad, as well as at home.

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