Thank you to everyone who attended our #LabourWorld event last week. Over three hundred people joined LCID and twenty sister organisations to hear Labour’s next Foreign Secretary, Development Secretary, Climate Secretary and Defence Minister on a panel chaired by Mary Riddell. LCID’s Honorary Vice-President Stephen Doughty wrapped up the event, which also saw the launch of our new video on Labour’s record.
A transcript of the speech is available here, however his concluding remarks are below:
“The response to contemporary challenges – the return of geo-political competition; the rise of economic warfare; the pressures on global governance; the introversion that accompanies the fragmentation of politics – are frankly too often framed through the prism of decline and a tendency towards pessimism.
It is true that these trends mean the UK will continue to face real challenges on the international sphere. But those who counsel inevitable decline are driven by a politics of pessimism, not simply real-politick as they might try to claim.But the role of leaders is to now persuade a war-weary society that an active and engaged British foreign policy remarks the best way to promote and protect our values and interests.
Today there is a long way to go, and at times we and our allies have been caught wrong footed. But we must continue to make the case that our institutions and alliances do provide a strength that our challengers cannot match – if we stay united. Selling this case is difficult. But it is necessary. Because political consent is a more important aspect of international affairs than ever before.
So as progressives at a time of growing introversion, we have a unique responsibility to reject those who try to promote a Little Britain – and in some cases Little England – approach that suggests we should simply turn our backs on the world. Our shared task for government is to build consent for an outward-looking Britain which I believe is the best way to advance not just our interests, but also our values.
That is why, in this time of increasing introversion, I see it as Labour’s task, as my task, and as the next Government’s task, to continue to make the case for Britain to advance a foreign policy of Progressive Internationalism in the years and decades ahead.”
Today the House of Commons International Development Committee released the report of their inquiry, Beyond Aid. In LCID’s evidence to the inquiry we set out our views on how to build a more pro-rights, pro-equality and multilateralist approach to development, one which not only lifts people out of poverty but fundamentally redistributes power and address structural injustices.
The International Development Committee’s final report has a strong emphasis on policy coherence in development, both with global partners and across Government in the UK. This is something that our submission emphasised and we are pleased to see it highlighted in the report.
We agree with the report stating that aid is not yet redundant. Poverty reduction and particularly humanitarian relief won’t happen without it. And in middle income countries, if aid is no longer appropriate, we must find creative ways to keep partnering on health, education, and so on.
But we absolutely agree that aid is not the future. As we move beyond aid to policy areas where responsibility is shared by different Government departments – be it trade, tax, climate change or clamping down on illicit financial flows – wider policy coherence only grows in importance.
With one important point at the centre: greater policy coherence should not mean any less autonomy and influence for the Department for International Development. The IDC’s report states upfront that DFID should remain a free-standing Cabinet-level department, to ensure that international development keeps a prominent position within Government, and we are pleased to see this conclusion featured strongly, as it did in LCID’s submission.
A huge amount of work remains to be done, to better orientate our international development policies towards the poorest and most conflict-affected people in the world, to create decent work opportunities for all, to ensure that women and girls are not left behind, to protect our climate too. But in a world where it will take so much more than aid to achieve these goals, improved policy coherence across Government, and with our partners globally, is the crucial starting point.
By Billy HIll, LCID Membership Officer
Love it or loathe it, tax is the life-blood for public services across the world. For me, the money sourced from UK tax-payers has given me a great education, covered the cost of my nasty definitely-not-dancing-related broken ankle last year, and gets me to work every morning by way of public roads. Now I’m a University graduate in my first job, I’m pleased to be contributing to a system that has served me well.
Like 30 million other Brits, the PAYE system automatically takes a certain chunk from my salary each month. However, for some, it’s a different story. Tax avoidance has become global issue splashed across every national newspaper. Today, hundreds of millions of pounds being in hidden anonymous companies, widely dispersed through legal loopholes, and, according to recent estimates, over £2trillion in tax havens.
Dodging tax is big business with UK businesses withholding over £30billion each year according to tax authority estimates. So it probably comes as no surprise that, according to Oxfam’s new wealth report, that in the US more companies engaged lobbyists to work on federal budget and tax issues than any other issue.
But it’s not just every British citizens who suffer from this avoidance, it’s causing untold harm across distant continents. Rapid economic growth across the continent of Africa has attracted a wealth of British business and, with it, a certain amount of tax avoidance. This abuse of the system diverts money from key life-saving public services and investment in infrastructure, into the pockets of wealthy individuals. In 2011, rich countries raised 34.1% of their GDP in taxes while low-income countries raised on average only 13%. Chiefly, this has been caused by multinational companies’ sophisticated manipulations of their company accounts that divert cash.
Malawi is a classic point in case. A hub for agricultural trade with products including tobacco, sugarcane, and cotton, the country has faced significant hurdles in attempting to raise tax from foreign trade. According to the ONE Campaign, if companies paid their tax in Malawi, government revenues could increase by 50%, which is roughly the same amount that the country receives in international aid (11.7% of GDP).
It’s a similar story in Ghana where SABMiller, the world’s second largest beer company who include Grolsch and Peroni in their portfolio, have been shifting their profits out of the continent into offshore tax havens. The ActionAid report claims the business, whose headquarters are in the UK, has avoided £20m of taxes in Africa and India every year – enough money to educate a quarter-of-a-million African children.
But, aside from all this doom and gloom, there are some pretty simple steps we can take to make sure that the UK business is in order. One of those steps is to make it harder for companies to dodge UK taxes and make sure they’re not getting unjustified tax breaks. A common example of UK breaks are “tax holidays.” These temporary drops in taxation are used to encourage foreign investment and trading. Nevertheless, these are often unnecessary incentives as companies look for more concrete reasons for investing such as decent infrastructure and a stable political system.
Another key point is ensuring that UK tax rules don’t incentivise companies to avoid tax in developing countries. The UK has already created a set of rules for Controlled Foreign Companies (or CFC’s if you’re using Twitter) which stop companies, who are controlled by a UK resident in a foreign company, from reducing UK tax by diverting profits to tax shelters. But more can be done. Glencore, an Anglo-Swiss corporate, has been repeatedly criticised for its dealings across the developing world including accusations of local tax dodging in Zambian mines, an allegation they have consistently denied.
Unearthing dodgy deals and making sure tax systems are transparent is also hugely important in clamping down on avoidance. This is especially true for the developing world where citizens often don’t have access to the information about who owns companies and where offshore tax evasion money is going. By making information public and promoting schemes such as the Automatic Information Exchange (a 2012 initiative which allows tax authorities to gain access to foreign business’ accounts), the opportunity to spot high-risk cases becomes much easier.
But away from all the detailed policy and big words, there’s a basic point to be made: tax is not just a financial obligation, but a moral one. It is the rent we pay to use public services like the NHS, public roads, and our education system. Tax avoidance deprives citizens around the world from fully-funded basic services, and the UK can play a great role in tackling this exploitation.
That’s LCID are backing a new campaign by 16 NGO’s (including Oxfam, Christian Aid, and the National Union of Students) are demanding an end to tax dodging in the UK with the introduction a Tax Dodging Bill. The campaign calls on government to amend their tax systems to prevent tax avoidance, cut down on tax breaks, and avoid incentivising companies that avoid tax in developing countries. It’s vital that we restore trust in our tax system and highlight the good that public services can do, here and around the world. Indeed, the UK must play a key role in making sure that our system is transparent and effective.
LCID will be doing what we can to support this important campaign and we urge you to do so too.
Speech by Labour’s next International Development Secretary Mary Creagh MP on Inequality and Universal Health Coverage
Thank you, Melissa for your kind invitation to address the Institute for Development Studies.
You are world leaders in your field and it is a great honour to be here.
You play a crucial part in training the next generation of development professionals.
I want also to recognise my Labour colleague Purna Sen – who gave me such a warm introduction. Thank you Purna.
As many of you know, Purna is standing to be the next Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion.
She is also an expert in international development.
She is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics, and has worked on Human Rights for the Commonwealth Secretariat and at Amnesty International.
Two weeks ago, at the launch of Action 2015, Ed Miliband reaffirmed the Labour Party’s commitment to global justice and solidarity.
And I am delighted to see we have some Youth Ambassadors here from that campaign, and colleagues from the across the sector who have travelled here today.
It would be easy in the current climate of political frustration and cynicism to turn away from addressing the world’s most intractable problems.
Other parties say now is not the time for renewed global ambition, especially for international development.
Social justice and human rights are central to Labour’s values.
As Ed said, “business as usual is not acceptable”.
The world today is globalised and connected: climate change, economic crises and disease outbreaks are everyone’s concern.
Our commitment to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable is not just morally right, it is in Britain’s national interest.
I want to talk about the once-in-a generation opportunity that 2015 – the European Year of Development – gives us.
In September, in New York, the United Nations will agree the replacement to the Millennium Development Goals.
In December, in Paris, we will agree a framework to tackle climate change.
Both would be priorities for a Labour government.
As well as eradicating extreme poverty, the Sustainable Development Goals must go faster to tackle growing economic inequality.
Inequality matters. It reduces growth and hinders development.
Health, education, jobs and participation.
Each a basic human right, increasingly determined at birth.
Nearly half of the world’s wealth belongs to just one per cent of the population.
But inequality is about more than money.
Gender, caste, race, community, disability, religion, and ethnicity – far too often this is what determines your life chances.
If more is not done to protect the most vulnerable people, countries can never fully develop.
It is for this reason that I am determined the SDGs do more to tackle inequality in three areas that matter deeply to the Labour Party:
Human rights, climate change and universal health coverage.
Areas that this Government barely discuss at all – at home or abroad.
Basic human rights are integral to what it means to be free.
Women and girls must be free from the fear of violence, coercion or intimidation; and have the freedom to choose how many children they have.
We want girls to have all the same chances as boys: to enjoy their education, free from the threat of forced marriage.
I want to see DFID spearheading more approaches that change the value of education such as the successful cash transfer projects.
We want to tackle the economic conditions and supply chains that tolerate the obscenity of 168 million child workers.
There is no better route out of poverty than a job.
Workers must have access to decent work, decent pay and rest breaks, and the freedom to join a trade union.
We must not have a repeat of the terrible Rana Plaza disaster.
So a Labour government will reverse this Government’s ideological decision to stop funding the International Labour Organisation.
The private sector needs to play its role.
Labour will support good companies that pay their fair share of tax, maintain a clean supply chain and pay a fair wage.
I will say more about this in March, in Cambridge.
We also want to ensure that children affected by conflict have the psycho-social services they need and the right to go to school.
And we want LGBT communities to be free to love and marry whom they wish, the disabled to participate fully in society and protection for indigenous peoples.
The effects of climate change hit the poorest hardest.
Eradicating poverty will only be possible if we tackle climate change.
If we do not cap temperature rises below two degrees then millions will fall back into poverty.
The Prime Minister says very little about his wind turbine these days.
He is a prisoner of a divided party: split over whether climate change even exists.
For Labour, climate change will be at the centre of our foreign policy and integral to our plan to change Britain.
There is a genuine opportunity to address climate change this year.
The United States, the EU and, most importantly, China, all show a willingness to act.
A Labour government would push for global targets to reduce carbon emissions, with regular reviews towards the long-term goal of what the science now tells us is necessary.
Zero net global emissions in the latter half of this century.
Health care is the bedrock of development.
As the party of the NHS we want others to enjoy the protections that we take for granted.
Ensuring everyone in the world has access to affordable healthcare is essential to end poverty.
Because it is deeply unfair that three million people die every year from preventable illnesses.
Because last year there were 1.5 million AIDS-related deaths when we have treatments that could have kept those people alive.
Three-quarters of those living in low-income countries lack access to decent healthcare.
This government does not understand why this matters.
They will not support a goal on UHC in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Figures from the House of Commons library show this Government cut bilateral spending on health in Sierra Leone and Liberia from 26 million pounds in 2010 to 16 million pounds this year.
And while I support the help DFID has given to the Ebola crisis, the best way to protect against disease is to build a resilient, government controlled and government funded health service.
The World Health Organisation has calculated that Universal Health Coverage would stop one hundred million people a year from falling into poverty.
There is no simple, measurable solution to help those countries that want it to set up a health service.
Lasting healthcare systems are about more than the delivery of commodities like vaccines and bednets, vital though they are.
We have seen the devastation that a failure to strengthen health systems can induce.
With no treatment, and no vaccine, we have had no option but to watch health-systems in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea all but collapse.
The World Health Organisation, the World Bank and countries like France and Japan are all clear that UHC is the right direction to move in.
Britain needs to catch up.
I want DFID to lead the pack not follow it.
So today, I want to set out two things that Labour will do in government to increase universal health coverage.
First, Labour will establish a Centre for Universal Health Coverage.
This will provide global partnerships, support and encouragement to countries that want to healthcare.
Labour learned a lot when we set up the NHS. We can watch the difference it made every Sunday night, on TV, on Call the Midwife.
Pre natal care. Orange juice and rosehip syrup for expectant mums. Every birth attended by a skilled midwife.
Milk tokens for the children and parenting classes to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding.
Prostitutes, immigrants and the middle classes all treated with care dignity and respect.
It is a long and difficult journey.
It requires vision and courage. It needs bold political commitment. Long term funding. Trained health workers. Functioning public finance systems. And much more.
None of this is easy.
A Centre for Universal Health Coverage would recognise that building a robust and equitable health system is ultimately a political decision.
It would work with enlightened political leaders in developing countries.
It would help them to generate adequate funding from their own as well as external sources and the systems needed to deliver it especially in rural areas.
Second, I want DFID to play a role in trying to reshape the global health system.
Today, the global health system is under immense strain.
It needs reform.
The last Labour Government helped found the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria.
Today, 13 million people access life-saving HIV treatment.
We set up Gavi to provide vaccines to halve the number of children who die before their fifth birthday.
To reach those Millennium Development Goals we knew we needed new ways of working together.
We need a similar step change if we are to reach the sustainable development goals.
The WHO lacks focus and struggles to reform itself.
Too many organisations are focused on specific diseases – with too few focused on strengthening health systems.
The rate of tackling TB in particular is too slow and must be addressed.
I want DFID to bring cohesion across the myriad organisations and to encourage them to work directly with governments to establish durable, country-directed solutions.
There is global will at the macro level – the UN.
And huge political commitment at the micro level of development organisations working on the ground.
I want to develop the meso level – the intermediate stage between giant global organisations and the mother in DRC or South Sudan who turns up to a clinic to find no vaccines, no healthcare workers.
The meso level is where countries are enabled to take ownership of their own development and health and can fund and deliver it themselves.
Labour will provide global leadership to bring some clarity and coordination that puts the needs of partner countries first.
I am not claiming I have all the answers.
But I do have values and ideas and political will and a desire to change the world and leave it better than I found it.
I know that you share that hope and vision for a better world.
Ours is the generation that can end extreme poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change.
We can move to a world beyond aid, and enable people to secure justice instead of charity.
2015 is a unique opportunity for the world to think bigger and do better – for ourselves, our children and the world’s poorest people.
That is a thrilling opportunity. We must not let them down.
By Joe Walker, Vice Chair of Policy for LCID
Originally published on LabourList
Internationalism, a movement advocating greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the benefit of all, has been a strong tradition within the Labour party from the beginning. Our values and ideals have always looked beyond our shores and have contributed to influencing and shaping Britain’s role in an increasingly interdependent world.
We have a record that we can be proud of. We supported the establishment of the League of Nations in the inter-war years. We backed Indian independence and de-colonisation around the world. We campaigned against apartheid in South Africa. The last Labour Government tripled aid, cancelled debt and rescued the global economy. The recent enshrining of 0.7% into law is something that Labour championed in government, paving the way for that commitment to be honoured after we left office.
In recent times, a lot has been written and debated about the Labour party’s international posture and perspectives since the Iraq war – and what a future government led by Ed Milliband would prioritise.
This debate will take centre stage tonight at an event hosted by the Labour Campaign for International Development, LabourList, and twenty partners from across the Labour movement, to discuss the next Labour Government’s internationalist vision.
Chaired by Mary Riddell, the panel will include Douglas Alexander MP, Mary Creagh MP, Caroline Flint MP and Ian Lucas MP. The panel will be asked: how can Britain once again become a progressive powerhouse, leading global efforts for a more equal, safer, and more prosperous world?
Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander has made the case for a ‘progressive internationalism.’ These words will sit easily with many on the left. But what does this mean in reality? Ed Miliband’s idea of ‘responsible capitalism’, for example, can begin to shape this progressive agenda but it can only be achieved on a global scale, broadening the way the global system is governed, focused on cooperation between countries.
Ed Miliband and Mary Creagh gave speeches this month outlying a future Labour Government’s commitment to combating extreme poverty, inequality and climate change. Miliband said: “More than ever Britain and the world need leadership on tackling poverty, inequality and climate change. This is about ensuring the next generation can do better than the last in this country and around the world.” These words reflect the ideals of a progressive internationalist agenda and will be welcomed by many campaigners and activists in this important year for tackling global poverty and combating climate change. But what will they mean in practice? How will Labour make this gear-change?
These words will also, we hope, chime on the doorstep in the year that Britain goes to the polls. We know that the British media and the public are sometimes critical of Britain’s overseas aid commitments. So it may not feel politically advantageous for Labour to commit to end poverty and inequality in the world.
But Labour must be ready to take strong and sometimes controversial positions based on the principles and the tradition of internationalism and solidarity within the party. And there are plenty of potential voters – in the diaspora, young people, students, faith groups – for whom this matters.
In his tribute at Nelson’s Mandela’s funeral in 2013, President Obama’s challenge to the world was this: “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.”
The Labour party should listen to these words.
On Monday night you can come and listen to the men and women who will be leading the next Labour Government’s global agenda and reshaping Britain’s role in the world, driven by collectivism, solidarity and social justice.
Numbers are limited, so please RSVP by clicking here – bit.ly/LabourWorld and follow updates on Twitter using #LabourWorld.
One Nation, One World: The Next Chapter in Labour’s Internationalist Story – RSVP to our special event
Monday 26 January 2015 | 17.15-18.45 | Lecture Hall, Methodist Central Hall
We are pleased to invite you to a special event we are organising with the Labour Campaign for International Development and over fifteen partners from across the Labour movement to discuss the next Labour Government’s internationalist vision.
- Labour’s next Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander MP
- Labour’s next International Development Secretary, Mary Creagh MP
- Labour’s next Climate Change Secretary Caroline Flint MP
- Labour’s our next Defence Minister Ian Lucas MP
- Chaired by Mary Riddell, columnist for The Daily Telegraph.
Internationalism is in Labour’s DNA. From Indian independence, to the anti-apartheid struggle, and the last government’s tripling of aid and rescuing of the global economy, the Labour Party has a record to be proud of. In a year that will see Britain go to the polls, a new set of Sustainable Development Goals agreed, and a global climate deal negotiated, how can that great tradition be carried forward? How can Britain once again become a progressive powerhouse, leading global efforts for a more equal, safer, and more prosperous world?
Come along to this event to find out – your only opportunity to see all of Labour’s international Shadow Cabinet team in one event before the election.
Numbers are limited, so please RSVP by clicking here – and follow updates on Twitter using #LabourWorld.
The panel will be followed by a Q&A discussion. The event will start promptly at 17.30 – registration is open from 17.15.
A drinks reception will follow the event and take place on the top floor of The Westminster Arms, next door to the event, from 18.45.
This event is being organising by the above sister organisations from across our movement and with the kind support of UNISON.