Owen Smith MP – my commitment to tackling poverty at home and abroad

owen-smith-2Owen Smith MP, candidate in the 2016 Labour Leadership contest, blogs for LCID on his commitment to international development – @OwenSmith_MP

Anyone in any doubt about the right-wing agenda of this new Tory government should take a look at two of Theresa May’s lesser commented-on appointments over the summer – that of Priti Patel as International Development Secretary, and her Special Adviser Robert Oxley – formerly of the Brexit campaign and the ideological Taxpayer’s Alliance.

Both Patel and Oxley have spent years attacking the very department that they now lead, arguing for the aid budget to be redirected, cut or even scrapped – and even at one point suggesting that DFID should be abolished or reformed. Even more shockingly they appear to be willing to undermine the cross-party consensus on the 0.7% aid target to spend a small but guaranteed proportion of our income on supporting education, health and responding to disasters around the world. They must be stopped.

Establishing DFID, leading the way on both the quality and quantity of our development assistance, and while abandoning the type of policies that led to the Pergau dam scandal – was one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government. An achievement that literally saved lives around the world, and showed the type of outward looking internationalism that Britain and Labour should represent.

It is clear that there is a moral case for international development assistance – and focusing this on those who need it the most. Who can say that we should turn by and walk on the other side when so many children remain unable to go to school, when millions face the threat of HIV/Aids, Malaria or TB, and when women and girls often bear the brunt – not least in conflict zones. And as we see the effects of climate change and disorganised war and conflict impacting on many more – we also have to prepare for the challenges of the future.

It’s why the agreement of the Sustainable Development Goals was so important – recognising that tackling poverty and injustice requires concerted action in many areas, and in the richest countries domestic policies as well as their international action – not least when it comes to sustainability, climate change, taxation and corporate behaviour overseas. I want to see a Labour government that leads the way in delivering the goals domestically and internationally.

But as well as the moral case – international development is clearly in our national interest. Whether it is the tragedy of poverty and conflict driven thousands drowning in boats in the Mediterranean – or the threat of instability and poor governance in countries across Africa and the Middle East leading providing the space for extremism to grow – we ignore these challenges at our own peril. There is no zero-sum game between our Defence, Development and Diplomatic efforts around the world. We must ensure there is coherence and collaboration to ensure a safer, fairer and more just world for all.

But I believe there is something more fundamental at stake. Many understand the need for charity – but only Labour has historically recognised the need for justice – whether for garment workers in Bangladesh, women fleeing rape in the DRC or the refugees of Syria. We need to address the immediate impacts – but also the economic and political structures that drive injustice, poverty and conflict – for example through global tax transparency or fair trade. DFID and our aid budget have been at the heart of that fight for justice since 1997, and I will fight tooth and nail as Labour’s Leader to ensure the Tories don’t take an ideological axe to its work – and pledge to put tackling poverty at home and abroad at the heart of my programme as Labour’s next Prime Minister.

 

Owen Smith

Invitation: Join LCID MPs in discussion of ‘Brexit’

In conjunction with the Labour Movement for Europe (LME) and Labour’s Environmental Campaign Group (SERA), LCID is hosting to an exclusive Panel Q&A on the evening of June 14th, 19.00-21.00, at UNITE Head Quarters in London.

The evening’s discussion, entitled “Brexit: A danger to security, tackling climate change and international development”, will be addressed by Mary Creagh MP, Stephen Doughty MP, Glenys Kinnock and speakers from across the Labour Party. Our panellists will make the environmental, security, human rights and international development case for remaining in the European Union on June 23rd.

LCID is pleased to provide 50 free tickets for the evening, on a first-come-first-serve basis. This will provide access to UNITE, the right to ask questions of our panellists, and after-talk refreshments with MPs.

The event will take place in the Diskuss Room at Unite the Union, Unite House, 128 Theobald Road, Holborn, London, WC1X 8TN. The closest tube station is Holborn, accessible from the Central and Piccadilly Lines

If you are interested in attending, please email aaron@lcid.org.uk with your contact details as soon as possible. We anticipate high demand for tickets so encourage members to get in touch sooner rather than later!

Please bring identification with you on arrival.

Harman – International community must respond to Pakistan floods

Responding to recent flooding in Pakistan, Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development has released the following statement;

 “These devastating floods are causing more suffering for people who were still recovering from the floods of 2010. For the second time, many have lost their homes and the crops and livestock they depend on .

“The Government of Pakistan has called for international support. The international community, including the UK Government, must respond.  The UK Government has shown strong leadership in responding to the crisis  in the Horn of Africa, but sadly other countries have not. We must not see a repeat of the slow response of the international community to the crisis in Pakistan.

“As we have seen in the Horn of Africa, the world must not sit back when people are suffering. People across Pakistan need food, shelter, safe water and medical treatment. Although Aid Agencies are doing their best to get to the people who need their help, with enough funds they could do so much more.  The faster we act, the more lives we can save.

“The Government must also listen to and involve the Disapora community in the UK.  They  are extremely concerned about their friends and relatives in Pakistan, and are well aware of what needs to be done.

“As well as the immediate humanitarian need these devastating floods show why the government must step up their action to tackle climate change and  help protect communities from future disasters. At the G20 in November the Government must take the lead in ensuring that the world acts.”

Christian Aid calls on Mitchell to do more on climate change

Courtesy of Christian Aid

There is a very interesting piece over on Left Foot Forward on Christian Aid’s new campaign which calls on the World Bank to do more to tackle climate change.

You can lend your voice to Christian Aid’s and email Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, and ask him to use his position within the World Bank to support developing nations in the fight against climate change.

One notable part of the story on Left Foot Forward says:

Step forward, then, Mr Mitchell, who as the UK’s board representative can now have a significant say in how the bank’s financial institutions are run and how the money is spent. (The UK holds 3.75% of the vote, equal to France, while larger voting shares are held by the US, Japan, China and Germany).

Mr Mitchell must seize the chance to press the bank to put its billions into carbon-safe, clean ways of generating energy, such as solar and small-scale hydroelectric, and biomass projects which can deliver clean energy directly to poor people.

For to preserve any credibility as a force for good, the bank must be seen to be in the vanguard of supporting sustainable and renewable energy sources which would help avert climate chaos while meeting the energy needs of poorer communities to help lift them out of poverty.

You can read the full article over on Left Foot Forward. Here at LCID, we have written frequently on climate change as a challenge to developing nations and we welcome Christian Aid’s focus on the agenda.

 

Huhne can easily stay in Cancun: Call Ming or Charles!

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne today risked embarrassing the UK delegation at the UNFCCC talks in Cancun by threatening to return home to vote for a large rise in student tuition fees. The UK has taken a lead role in negotiating the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Huhne has attempted to blame Labour Leader Ed Miliband for failing to pair him up with a Labour MP voting against the hike in fees. However, he seems to have conveniently forgotten to ask rebels within his own party. At least 10 Liberal Democrat MPs are expected to vote against the bill tomorrow, including former leaders Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell. He could also pick up the phone to Conservative party rebels and request to pair with one of them.

There is even a potential Liberal Democrat rebel MP in Cancun with the UK delegation – Martin Horwood MP told the BBC earlier this month he would likely vote against. Instead of pairing with Horwood, Huhne is cynically attempting to boost the Government position by asking Labour MPs to cancel out his support.

He has sought to spin his way out the Liberal Democrat’s internal fiasco by blaming the Leader of the Opposition.

David Taylor, Chair of the Labour Campaign for International Development said:

“This decision comes down to Huhne’s political priorities: Would he rather help broker a key global deal on climate change or hike fees on students? He could have called on one of his rebel Lib Dem colleagues to pair with him, or are relations so bad within Lib Dem ranks that he’d rather turn to Labour?

“The choice is his alone – and certainly not Ed Miliband’s.”

Congratulations to Ed Miliband

LCID congratulates Ed Miliband MP on becoming the new leader of the Labour Party.

We look forward to working with the former Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change to ensure global poverty stays high on the parties agenda in the coming years.

During the Leadership campaign we asked Ed about his views on global poverty. You can watch his answers here.