I was disappointed to see The Guardian give a platform to the Tories international development plans today without any attempt to scrutinise them. The Tories claim they will not cut the aid budget is undermined not only by their record under Thatcher, when it was halved, but also by their failure to guarantee that aid for climate change adaptation will be additional and not sucked from existing funds. If Mitchell says critics of overseas aid have no place in today’s Tory party, then why did 96% of prospective Tory MPs vote to cut aid in an online poll on Conservative Home?
What most concerns us, however, is not simply how much the Conservatives will or won’t spend on aid, but what they will spend it on. Their green paper would once again impose failed private sector solutions on health & education – just look at their plans (derided by NGOs & UNDP) to introduce ‘voucher’ schemes, and subsidise private schools. Mitchell hailed Bush – but much of that aid was tied to damaging economic & religious ideology, such as AIDS programmes that promoted abstinence over condom use and resulted in untold deaths.
Mitchell criticises DFID & Brown for having ‘lost their way’ but we beg to differ – Labour has focused increasingly on helping governments in developing countries to build their own universal public health & education systems. It is exactly this type of leadership by Labour over the last decade that has made DFID a world leader in development which now lifts 3 million people permanently out of poverty each year.
All the progress is at risk by the Conservatives’ policies. That the reason why we, a group of Labour activists, have recently set up Labour Campaign for International Development – to scrutinise the Tories and help keep a Labour government in power and lifting millions out of poverty.
David Taylor, Labour Campaign for International Development