As Harriet [Harman] and others have said today our record on international development and the creation of DFID [Department for International Development] is one of our greatest achievements in government. We should all be proud of being a member of a party that campaigns for social justice both at home and abroad. Whatever people say about our record in government, never forget that the policies put in place when we were in power ensure that Britain lifts three million people out of poverty each year.
Now I hate to say it conference, but the Tories deserve some credit for having ring-fenced the overseas aid budget at 0.7% of GDP – whilst making cuts to all other areas of government spending. But this is not enough. What defined Labour’s record wasn’t numbers, it was leadership. The leadership to set up DFID as the world’s most effective government department on development. The leadership on international debt relief. Finally the leadership required to dedicate a G8 presidency to global progress on aid and trade. I see no evidence of that leadership from the current government.
We need Britain today to play a leading role in the G20 to achieve a global growth deal that will help the poorest economies – and our own – to get back on the path to prosperity. A recent IMF study showed that multilateral action on growth could create as many as 50 million new jobs and 100 million people could be lifted out of poverty. This is the kind of decisive action that we as a party should be calling for in opposition and delivering in government.
That is why, as well as being proud of our record in government I am proud of being a member of the Labour Campaign for International Development. We are a newly formed membership organisation with the aim of scrutinising the Tories on aid, trade and debt and supporting Harriet and the shadow team. With your support we hope to become affiliated as a socialist society.
I would also like to mention LCID’s full support for the efforts to fundraise for the East Africa appeal and the campaign by Save the Children for a UN charter to end extreme hunger.
Conference, how we help the world’s poorest, both in Britain and overseas, defines us as a party. We have a fantastic record and I look forward to working as a party on delivering leadership on this issue back in government.
The fight against poverty, disease and famine in the developing world is the greatest moral challenge of our generation. Together we can ensure that Britain in the world meets that challenge.
You can now sign up to become a founding member of LCID here.