International Development at #Lab10

Labour Party Conference 2010 saw LCID out in force, popping along to as many events as we could in our t-shirts and signing more people up. Here are a few highlights.

First was the election of former Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband as Labour Leader. His personal commitment to the issue was evident when we interview him during the leadership campaign, and it was great he choose to highlight Labour’s record on international development in his first speech:

“The old thinking told us that the challenges of the world were too big and our country too small to make a difference.

But thanks to our leadership around the world, development spending is now heading towards our goal, forty million more children are going to school each day, and two hundred million are protected from malaria. And that would never have happened without the leadership of Gordon Brown as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister.”

The Robin Hood Tax was on the agenda at the Conference, a campaign Ed backed in our video interview, which you can view below, and then have a read of this article by our friends at Left Foot Forward laying out how Ed should lead on this issue.

We were really pleased to have chaired Christian Aid’s event: Beyond Aid: what role for tax in international development? Speakers included former Treasury Minister Stephen Timms MP, who pushed tax evasion up the agenda when in Government, and Int. Dev. Select Committee member Anas Sawar MP. Tax evasion currently robs poor countries more than $160bn a year – you can take action against it here. Meanwhile, we popped in to the White Ribbon Alliance’s ‘Mum’s Cafe‘, promoting Sarah Brown’s campaign for safer motherhood.

In the Britain in the World session, Douglas Alexander MP, Shadow International Development Secretary, spoke alongside guests from Oxfam, talking about the floods in Pakistan (click link to donate to DEC appeal), and Christian Aid talking about the impact of climate change in Africa. Douglas said;

“I am proud of what Labour was able to do in Government to improve our response to emergencies. As part of trebling our aid budget, we were able to allocate more resources for responding to disasters – from the terrible Tsunami to the Haiti earthquake.

We were also one of the key governments fighting for improvements in the way the United Nations and other global agencies respond. Thanks to our work including by my colleague Gareth Thomas – we pushed for the establishment of the Central Emergency Response Fund at the UN – a rapid response fund, that ensures some funding is always available to respond immediately to disasters, rather than passing the begging cap around donors, when time is absolutely of the essence and lives need to be saved.

We should welcome what the government has done in the way it has provided significant British funds quickly to Pakistan to match the generosity of the public. But I was concerned to read leaked documents this summer that suggest our promise to increase funding for the CERF – that key UN disaster response fund – was on a list of pledges that the government apparently plan to drop. That would be a backwards step.”

Finally, LCID member Lee Butcher gives his review of Labour Party Conference in this Audioboo:

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