The 2010 election has been memorable for many reasons. Not least for the first leader debates and frantic campaigning in the most wide open election for years; but also for the criticisms that the policies of the three main parties are all too similar and that votes won’t result in change.
We at LCID disagree. There are vital differences between the party’s policies on international development, and they can mean real and lasting, and in some cases very damaging, change for the world’s poorest.
It’s our responsibility to share with you why we feel the Labour Party is best placed to lead the fight against global poverty as it has done over the last 13 years, and the threat we fear from a new government who will not champion the voices of those who need us most.
- Labour trebled development aid, and will increase it to 0.7% of GNI by 2013 – in line with the commitments made by all G8 countries in Gleneagles following the Make Poverty History campaign.
- Labour has shown the UK to be champion against poverty by creating the highly respected Department for International Development – widely seen in development circles as a world leader.
- We’ve shown international leadership in forging a commitment from G8 countries to increase aid by $50bn per year, and the cancelling of the debts of the world’s poorest countries.
- The Tories cut international aid in half last time they were in power, and attitudes have not changed: 96% of Conservative candidates seeking to become MPs at the next election want to see aid cut.
- The Labour government launched a Governance and Transparency Fund which provides resources to local civil society groups to improve governance and increase accountability in poor countries – for example, by helping citizens, media and parliaments hold governments to account – which results in sustainable change for communities and less reliance on aid.
- The UK increased expenditure on maternal health globally three-fold from £16.2 million in 2004-5 to £54 million in 2008-9 – making lasting change for women and their communities globally.
- Labour ensured the UK became the first country to ban ‘Third World Debt’ profiteering with the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) or Vultures Bill – legislation praised universally, and notably by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana.
- Labour has taken strategic approaches to development. For example, by being the first champion of the Sanitation and Water For All initiative – which will work to stop 4,000 children under the age of five dying every day from preventable water-borne diseases.
- LCID is highly concerned with the Conservative plan to introduce ‘My Aid’ – an X Factor style competition where website visitors pick aid projects for DFID to fund. The shadow Secretary of State for Development Andrew Mitchell attempted to defend ‘My Aid’ by claiming it was “a tiny amount of the budget”. In fact, his green paper specifies that this fund would be £40m, almost as much as our entire annual aid to Zambia.
- These policies and efforts have seen direct results for the world’s poorest. They have
- helped lift 3 million people out of poverty each year.
- helped to get some 40 million more children into school.
- ensured polio is on the verge of being eradicated and 3 million people are now able to access life-preserving drugs for HIV and AIDS.
- improved water or sanitation services for over 1.5 million people.
We cannot jeopardise the sterling progress made on development over the last 13 years. And we will use our votes tomorrow, and ask you to think about doing the same, to support a government which has undertaken groundbreaking and heroic work to ensure a fairer global society for all.