We believe Labour is an internationalist party with a proud record of fighting injustices around the world, from supporting Indian independence, to the anti-apartheid struggle, to leading action to protect civilians in Sierra Leone and Kosovo. As Robin Cook said, we must never ‘turn a blind eye to how other governments behave and a deaf ear to the cries for help of their people’.
The next Labour Government must learn from the many successes and failures of our foreign policy decisions. Every situation is different, but we will always be guided by our internationalist principles and by our international obligations such as the Responsibility To Protect Civilians, which we signed up to with each and every government in the U.N. in 2005.
This principle acknowledges that when a government either wilfully fails to protect the security of its citizens, or is unable to do so, the international community has a clear obligation to intervene, choosing from a wide range of actions including diplomatic means, sanctions and in the most extreme cases, military operations.
Through our development work and following any direct interventions we will always stand ready to support communities and countries to rebuild with a long term development plan to secure safety, stability and prosperity for their people.
The merits of any actions we take or decline to take must always be carefully considered and scrutinised. The lessons of Iraq will be important in those considerations – so too must be the lessons of Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Syria. The next Labour Government must make the case for an ethical foreign policy and champion a progressive approach to humanitarian intervention.
We have always believed that all people matter, that global inequalities are no less our concern than those we fight at home and that we have moral obligations that reach beyond our borders to people we will never meet and places we will never visit. We will never shirk these responsibilities and will always work to further progressive Labour values on the global stage.
Glenys Kinnock, LCID Co-President
Rachel Reeves, LCID Co-President
Alison McGovern, LCID Vice-President
Gareth Thomas, LCID Vice-President
Ivan Lewis, LCID Vice-President
John Battle, LCID Vice-President
Seb Dance MEP, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Doughty, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Timms, LCID Vice-President
Hilary Benn, LCID Honorary Member
Susan Elan Jones
By Mike Kane, Shadow Minister for International Development and Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East – @MikeKaneMP
Whatever side of the EU Referendum Debate you sit on it is hard to deny that being able to work collaboratively with some of the world’s strongest economies, to pool financial, institutional and technological resources enables us to make much more significant inroads into tackling global poverty than it would if the UK simply acted alone.
As ActionAid UK’s Chief Executive, Girlish Menon said in a recent blog on the subject: “To end poverty we need stronger, not weaker collaboration.”
I am proud of the UK’s commitment to International Development over many years and successive Governments. The last Labour government helped 3 million people out of poverty a year, and 40 million children into education, tripled aid, dropped the debt, and built international coalitions to secure agreements that were right for Britain and the world. Had we sat outside the EU would those achievements have been possible on the same scale? I do not believe they would.
As a Shadow Minister for International Development I was involved in the campaign to enshrine in law our 0.7% commitment to development aid spending. British aid makes a huge difference to millions. But it is amplified by being a member of the European Union which is the world’s largest aid donor. An example of how working collaboratively with the EU increases the effectiveness of our aid budget is in relation to global reach. The UK has aid agencies which operate in 28 countries around the world – include our partners in the European Union and that figure rises to 150.
Kevin Watkins, Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute is right to point out in his recent article for The New Statesman that the EU Referendum debate so far as failed to address some of the important questions about our role and place in an increasingly interconnected world. Even those who don’t adhere to the view that we have a moral obligation in relation to international development understand than in an increasingly unstable and insecure world efforts to tackle global poverty and end conflict have positive benefits beyond the countries in which they are made, including for the UK.
It’s not just about money, cooperation and global reach, of equal importance is the ability to pursue shared policies which go beyond international development yet impact significantly on the developing world. Progress on global tax justice has been led by the European Union but there is still much to do. We need to rework broken OECD tax rules and mandate the UN to develop a set of rules that ensure big businesses pay their fair share of tax in every country they do business in. Achieving this without the influence and leverage of the European Union is highly unlikely.
For me personally, as a former CEO of an organisation that built movements that mobilise the power of people to take action, I fear the impact of a UK exit on the influence of Civil Society. Through the European Union the UK’s excellent network of NGOs have built the capacity of Civil Society across Europe. This has enabled civil society influence over key decision in relation to issues like climate change and tax transparency.
It’s time the debate on the EU Referendum dealt with the reality of the world as it today. A world that if we fail to address the challenge of global poverty will become increasingly unstable. A challenge that we will be much less able to address whilst sitting on the outskirts of the European Union.
Like everyone, we are devastated at the loss of Jo Cox MP. As her husband Brendan said, Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life. And the world is a better place because of Jo. From her time at Oxfam to her campaigning as an MP for the protection of the Syrian people, Jo used her remarkable energy, conviction and intellect to bring real change to peoples lives.
We are hugely grateful to everything Jo and Brendan have given to the fight for social justice, including their support for LCID from the very beginning. There was so, so much more we wanted to do to support her work and campaigning. We owe it to her to carry forward the issues she championed, especially the need to properly protect civilians in Syria and elsewhere. We will struggle to win change without her skill and tenacity, but we will give it our all. That is surely the best way to honour her memory.
On Monday 13th June, a parliamentary debate was called regarding The Mail on Sunday’s petition to stop the spending of a fixed 0.7 per cent of the UK’s gross national income on foreign aid, which had become law in 2015.
The debate was triggered when the petition received over 100,000 signatures. Despite concerns that the debate would therefore have an overwhelmingly negative tone the anti-aid brigade may have been disappointed that the MP who moved the motion for the House to consider the e-petition, Steve Double (Con, St Austell and Newquay), in fact repeatedly defended the achievements of UK aid.
It was a particularly well attended debate for one not held not in the main chamber but in the smaller Westminster Hall. In total 13 Labour MPs spoke strongly in favour of the fixed spending on aid and, with the room full to capacity, some MPs who wished to were not able to speak at all.
The fact that no one spoke explicitly against the 0.7 Act is very positive. However there was criticism around the need for greater transparency and accountability from across both parties. As LCID we have a job to do to continue to demonstrate the achievements of aid, to rebuff criticism and to demonstrate that Labour values are relevant to the development approach taken by the UK.
Thank you to the Labour MPs who spoke and attended:
Ms Diane Abbott MP
Mr Ian Austin MP
Mr Richard Burden MP
Mr Stephen Doughty MP
The Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP
Mr Mike Gapes MP
Ms Sharon Hodgson MP
Dr Rupa Huq MP
The Rt Hon David Lammy MP
Ms Liz McInnes MP
Mr Albert Owen MP
Mr Toby Perkins MP
The Rt Hon Joan Ryan MP
Mr Andy Slaughter MP
Mr Nick Thomas-Symonds MP
The Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP
Mr Stephen Twigg MP
Ms Catherine West MP
Mr Phil Wilson MP
Ms Catherine McKinnell MP
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 email@example.com 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.
Today in London David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary and current CEO of International Rescue Committee, delivered a speech making the case for the UK to remain in Europe, including why the EU matters for international development.
Some of his comments are reproduced below:
At the heart of our British success story in the post-war period – not just as a fringe component or some add-on extra – has been our membership of the European Union. Europe is not an alternative to a global Britain; it is the foundation for our role and reach internationally, which is good for us, and I would argue good for stability and security around the world.
The very same outward-looking attitude that took us into Europe, and has kept us in Europe, is the attitude that makes us credible and influential in the wider world. Rather than limit or diminish us, the European Union multiplies British power, British ideas and British values in very direct ways.
- The EU multiplies British defence policy. We could never tackle Somali pirates, who were holding the coast of Africa to ransom, on our own. As part of the EU, we despatched a highly successful naval force to do just that – the Atalanta force led by the Royal Navy. In 2011, there were 176 attacks; last year, none.
- Europe multiplies British diplomacy. We sought, on a cross-party basis, across successive governments, a negotiated resolution to the Iranian nuclear program through the EU, which was ahead of the US on this issue, and which convened and drove forward the process to achieve that hugely important goal. When I went to argue in Beijing for Chinese support for sanctions that would help support a negotiated settlement, progress was achieved in part because of the united European position I was able to put forward.
- Europe multiplies support for British values. We saw the consequences of break-up in the Balkans in the 1990s before the EU had a common foreign policy. It is thanks to the EU’s diplomatic pressure and economic pull that there is now relative peace and stability in the Balkans, despite the refugee crisis. An independent Kosovo, stable Serbia, growing Croatia exist because of agreed EU foreign policy. This is an area where the EU has thrown its weight around, and to good effect.
- Europe multiplies our development policy. We know the UK overseas aid budget has gone up – but with a British contribution, the EU’s humanitarian aid budget is the largest in the world, and together we are pioneers in good practice. Britain’s membership of the EU has been good for EU humanitarian aid policy, and in the process good for millions of people helped around the world because of the Union’s clout and commitment in this field.
- Europe massively multiplies our environmental clout. The UK cares about climate change, but we can hardly tackle it alone. Our EU membership has allowed us to drive and deliver a cross-party UK priority on a European scale, and now a global scale.
Where Europe has been weak, and failed to multiply British interests, for example in its dealings with Russia, it is not because Europe has been too united in its policy, but too divided. The answer to a revanchist Russia seeking to flex its muscles around the world is not a weaker EU, but a stronger one.
So Europe multiplies British power, rather than diminishing or constraining it.
The fact is that Britain needs Europe, and Europe needs Britain. That is the patriotic case for us to not just to remain in the EU, but to develop a positive vision for European cooperation for the 21st century.
By Stephen Doughty MP, Labour and Co-operative MP for Cardiff South and Penarth and LCID Vice-President –@SDoughtyMP
This piece originally featured on the Huffington Post website
With the startling revelations that have come to light in the Panama Papers over the past few days, it is all too easy to brush this aside another example of corruption in the already corrupted and convoluted developing world – specifically in this case Latin America and Panama – being exploited by rich elites in both the developed and developing world.
Blaming the Global South for it’s problems of corruption is something we in the west do very well – indeed the shrill and misleading Mail on Sunday attacks on the aid budget in recent weeks uses this as a major stick to beat our international development efforts.
However, we miss the point if this is where our attention is drawn to when we delve into the Panama Papers.
We miss the point that is once again staring us all starkly in the face.
The corruption, evasion and avoidance by the world elite is happening in our own back garden, it is happening in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. British Territories that still fundamentally depend on us for their defence and security but have in some cases (the Falklands notably aside) descended into safety deposit boxes for the elite and the corrupt.
A look into the papers reveals that Britain was second only to Hong Kong in a list of international jurisdictions where the most banks and law firms associated with the Panama Papers operate. UK Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies sit at the centre of a spectral network of companies used by the super-rich, celebrities and politicians to hide their global assets and wealth.
Over half of the companies implicated in the Panama Papers are incorporated in the tiny British Virgin Islands. Three major British and Channel Islands Banks – HSBC, Coutts and Rothschilds are named among the top ten banks that most frequently request offshore accounts. Indeed research by the Tax Justice Network puts the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies as the world’s largest collective tax haven.
When I worked at the Department for International Development I was astonished to find how difficult it was to address even the question of whether even directly backed agencies of government used these tax havens.
In that case I had asked whether the UK tax-payer backed Commonwealth Development Corporation (a private investment wing of the UK in developing countries) was barred from operating in or utilising tax havens.
But even asking questions in private about places like Anguilla and BVI caused civil service eyebrows to be raised in the Treasury and the FCO, “it’s all very difficult”, “it’s all very complicated” was a common response.
Well it needn’t be.
This leak exposes the extent to which UK tax havens and UK based intermediaries are at the very heart of a shadowy world system exploited by those who can afford the legal advice and bank accounts.
It is high time we in the UK clean up our own back yard and get serious about tackling the hidden financial systems of our Overseas Territories that not only facilitate tax evasion by the elite but actively encourage it.
Tax evasion in British overseas territory is not only a national embarrassment, it denies funds that could be spent on public services at home and helps in part enable global poverty. A recent review that was published by Christian Aid and the Financial Transparency Coalition of the leaks from the Swiss branch of HSBC, evidenced that poorer countries lose far more to tax evasion, relative to the size of their economies, compared to rich countries.
The IMF recently calculated that developing countries are losing around $200 billion a year to tax avoidance by companies. This is substantially more than they receive in aid. This coupled with the fact that the OECD has estimated that tax havens may be costing developing countries a sum of up to three times the global aid budget is truly shocking.
When I personally visited the BVIs some years ago I was surprised by their beauty and friendliness – but also two other things. A striking number of people living on clearly very low incomes in islands that have a per capita income of over $42,000 a year; and the revealing conversation I had with a British man who told me how he was involved in “efficient tax planning” for companies and wealthy individuals.
In 2013, David Cameron stated “I do not think it is fair any longer to refer to any of the overseas territories or Crown dependencies as tax havens – they have taken action to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems.”
This is utter nonsense.
One thing is abundantly clear from the Panama Papers, is that some British Territories and Dependencies are at the heart of them. This government is simply not doing enough to uphold international standards of transparency. It is time for Cameron to follow through on the agreements made the 2013 G8 to ensure that British territories take action to tackle tax avoidance.
Nearly three years on, next to no progress has been made.
As my colleague Mike Kane has rightly argued – the key question now is whether the Prime Minister will step in before his Anti-Corruption Summit on 12 May to require registers of beneficial ownership in the UK’s Overseas Territories. This would further demonstrate the UK’s leadership on this issue.
But I believe we need to go further – it is our duty to call time on secretive British-backed tax havens and renegotiate our relationship, even if that means moving to more direct funding of the Overseas Territories in the short term to make up for lost “business”. It is only right and moral that UK Overseas Territories and Dependencies come into line with the British public’s expectations on tax.
The UK can no longer provide tacit shelter, heaven and refuge for the world’s rich, powerful and corrupt. The shadowy systems of secrecy which permeate our territories abroad must come to an end.
All of us who pay our tax – demand no less. And the poorest who lose out the most – deserve no less.