The choice in this election on international development is clear – between electing a Labour government to continue our tradition of helping the world’s poorest people…and a Conservative government whose pledges to voters do not contain a single mention of international development. And worse,their most likely coalition partners, UKIP, want to abolish DFID and the aid budget by £9bn a year.
Leading in the World – Labour’s manifesto pledges
Labour is an internationalist party and believes Britain must engage with the global challenges we face, but not try and solve them on our own. We believe the Conservatives are damaging the interests of our country by turning their backs on Europe, and isolating us abroad. We will strengthen our national security, stand up for human rights, and work with other countries to tackle terrorism, climate change, and eliminate extreme poverty globally. Download Labour’s manifesto here.
We are proud that Labour MPs passed the historic law that commits Britain to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on international development. Labour will use that commitment from the British public to transform the lives of the world’s poorest people, whilst ensuring value for taxpayers’ money. We will work in fragile and conflict-affected states to improve the lives of those affected by violence, prioritising the protection and education of women and children. We will rebalance the budget to focus funding on the world’s poorest countries.
While progress has been made towards the Millennium Development Goals, it is unacceptable that over a billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day. We will work with other countries at this year’s Sustainable Development Goals Summit to unite the world to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle growing economic inequality, and place human rights at the heart of development.
We will establish a Centre for Universal Health Coverage to provide the support, encouragement, and global partnerships needed to help countries provide free healthcare. We will lead efforts to reshape the UN humanitarian system to better equip it to save lives.
The private sector is essential to long-term development, and is often a positive force for change. We will extend the sharing of tax information to developing countries, increase DFID’s help to governments to collect more of their own taxes, tackle corruption, and ensure good governance. We will work with companies to ensure they have sustainable supply chains that are free from slavery, treat their workers fairly, and pay taxes where they are due.
We will put climate change at the heart of our foreign policy. As the terrible impact of the floods in Britain showed last year, climate change is now an issue of national, as well as global security. From record droughts in California, to devastating typhoons in the Philippines, the world is already seeing the effects we once thought only future generations would experience.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that if the world is going to hold warming below two degrees (the internationally agreed goal), global emissions need to peak in around 2020, and then decline rapidly to reach net zero emissions by the second half of this century. The weaker the action now, the more rapid and costly the reductions will need to be later.
The effects of climate change hit the poor, the hardest. If we do not tackle climate change, millions of people will fall into poverty. We will expand the role of the Department of International Development to mitigate the risks of a changing climate, and support sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest people.
We want an ambitious agreement on climate change at the UNFCCC conference in Paris, in December. We will make the case for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, strengthened every five years on the basis of a scientific assessment of the progress towards the below two degree goal. And we will push for a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century, for transparent and universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions, and for an equitable deal in which richer countries provide support to poorer nations in combating climate change.
A commitment to universal human rights will be at the heart of our foreign policy across the world. We will continue to promote women’s rights. We will join with those campaigning to attain gender equality, the eradication of poverty and inclusive economic growth. We will appoint a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom, and establish a multi-faith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. And we will appoint an International LGBT Rights Envoy to promote respect for the human rights of LGBT people, and work towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality worldwide.
The Middle East
Peace and security in the Middle East are one of Labour’s most important foreign policy objectives.
Palestine – We remain committed to a comprehensive two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a viable and independent state of Palestine. There can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution.
ISIL’s barbarism and expansionist ideology, alongside terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab, represent a particular threat to global security. Following a request from the Iraqi Prime Minister, it was right that the UK joined other nations in air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. But military action alone will not defeat ISIL. A long-term multinational political strategy, with regional actors playing a central role, is essential for tackling the rise of extremism across the region.
The Conservative’s record on international development
In their manifesto, the Conservatives say they delivered on their commitment to enshrine on 0.7% of GNI on aid, but this law only passed as a private members bill after they couldn’t be bothered to table it themselves, and did their best to wreck it at every stage of its passage through Parliament. It was down to Labour MPs and Peers to ensure the bill was passed, with more Labour MPs voting for it then all the other parties combined.
The Conservatives promise further efforts to prevent climate change and help the poorest populations adapt. But the last five years have proven that their promise to be the “greenest government ever” meant nothing. Carbon emissions have gone up, David Cameron only recently talked of “cutting the green cr*p”, and he doesn’t mention the climate at all in meetings with world leaders.
The Conservatives say they will push for new global goals to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. If this was really the case, Cameron would have shown up to the meetings of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Having landed the prestigious chair role, he gave the meetings a miss and instead focused his efforts at the UN on getting jobs for his mates.
And when the Conservatives declare in their manifesto that they’ll try and reshape OECD rules on what counts as aid to reflect the importance of ‘stability’ – how can we trust that this isn’t another attempt to divert aid towards military spending?
UKIP – the Tories most likely coalition partners
UKIP will cut the foreign aid budget by £9bn per year – with a much-reduced aid budget administered by the Foreign Office, with DFID scrapped as an independent department with a Cabinet minister. Read more here.
Go Green – Vote Labour
Labour has a record to be proud of and a hopeful, ambitious and achievable vision on international development and climate change. That is reason enough to vote Labour over the Green Party or SNP. But if you live in a marginal it is also the only way to ensure the Tories and UKIP do not get in.
1. The deadline for registering to vote on May 7th is April 20th – register to vote here.
3. Join the Labour Campaign for International Development and help us ensure international development remains high on the political agenda and at the heart of Labour’s programme for government.