As practitioners in the field of international development, we write to challenge the claims that there is a consensus between the parties when it comes to tackling global poverty.
Take the issue of promises on aid. The welcome shift in Conservative policy to back the 0.7% promise in 2005 has been much vaunted by David Cameron, but despite repeated requests they have refused clearly to commit to ensure aid is not diverted for other purposes. Their commitment to the 0.7% target risks looking like political positioning rather than a serious commitment to tackling global poverty.
As concerning as how much the Conservatives will actually spend on tackling global poverty is how they suggest spending it. Access to basic services like health and education are basic rights. Conservative proposals to distribute vouchers for private schools in slums, to create an X-Factor-style competition to decide who gets aid, and a shift to private provision of healthcare, look like crude attempts to export failed ideological or populist policies, against the advice of leading practioners and aid charities.
Though we would much like there to be, there is no consensus on this issue. Instead, there is a serious choice about whether and how Britain should help the world’s poorest people.
Richard Bennett CBE
Former chair, Make Poverty History
Dr Ann Pettifor
Co-founder, Jubilee 2000
Former chair, Oxfam GB
Former deputy director of advocacy, World Vision International