They say a week is a long time in politics – but for the Prime Minister this is a week she will want to end pretty quickly. With 40 questions tabled for answer on Monday, however, pressure is still on No. 10, DfID, and the FCO.
After days of half-truths, alleged cover-ups, and a Secretary of State on the run to Kenya, a new Secretary of State for International Development has been appointed and a new dawn has begun.
But who is the new Secretary of State, Penny Mordaunt MP?
What the papers will tell you
- Elected in 2010 in Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt was the first female Minister for the Armed Forces in 2015 before moving over to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2016.
- Probably the only MP ever to have been a magician’s assistant – she says she was regularly “sawn in half and chopped to bits”.
- Worked for George W Bush as head of foreign press in 2000 and worked on his campaign again in 2004
- Took part in the Channel 4 programme – Splash!
- Came 2ndin the Westminster Dog of the Year contest in 2015 – borrowing a vehicle search dog from the army
What we really need to know
- A Brexit supporter, Mordaunt criticised the Remain campaign for “hysteria”, but caused controversy when she wrongly claimed the UK was unable to stop Turkey from joining the EU.
- She has previously been critical of aid going to countries like India with “considerable wealth” and called for DfID to “encourage and support them to ensure that they sort out their social problems”.
- As a DWP Minister, she amended the rules on the past presence test for refugee children who had a disability.
- She voted in favour of UK airstrikes against Daesh in Syria, having previously said that “the use of chemical weapons has made Syria our business”. She called for more pressure to be put on the UAE to contribute more to humanitarian relief for Syria and urged DfID to ensure aid workers in Syria were supported to keep them as safe as possible while they carried out their work.
Sexual violence in conflict and forces abroad
- She has expressed her support for the PSVI initiative and previously praised DfID and the Ministry of Justice for work on promoting women’s rights globally.
- She has spoken on cultural training by UK armed forces with regards to sexual violence.
- She has regularly spoken on British operations overseas and in particular the Navy’s contribution in countries like Somalia.
Tax avoidance and evasion
- In a 2012 debate on tax avoidance and evasion, she argued for tax simplification, stating that although evasion and aggressive avoidance was “wrong”, more focus needed to be on the Government and HMRC as compliance was “a two-way street”.
- She has consistently voted for equal gay rights and same-sex marriage, including for armed forces abroad (unlike the current defence secretary).
- However, she has generally voted against promoting equality and human rights through measures such as making caste discrimination illegal.
What can we expect from the new Secretary of State?
With a military background, voting record against promoting equality and want for tax simplification a shift in direction may take place; recent questions over the role of peacekeeping and the use of the Aid Budget in military spending, the leak of the Paradise Papers and Kate Osamor’s recent speech at ODI setting out a Labour vision of tackling inequality as a driving factor in what DfID does no shift or even step in a different direction will take place without serious scrutiny.
One thing we do know, the Shadow Development Team will keep the pressure on all within DfID to ensure poverty reduction stays at the heart of UK Aid.
We’d like to share with our supporters LCID’s submission to the Labour Party’s 2017 manifesto. Building on our 2015 manifesto, and our campaigning on aid and Syria and the Responsibility to Protect, below are the our policies we would like included in Labour’s manifesto:
- Labour should maintain our global leadership position on aid, spending 0.7% of GNI on eradicating extreme poverty and delivering our life-saving support through an independent Department for International Development.
- Labour should support poor countries to build their public health and education systems, increasing budget sector support to pre-2010 levels.
Responsibility to Protect
- Labour should pursue an ethical foreign policy, including upholding the 2005 UN Responsibility to Protect Civilians agreement, and the Arms Trade Treaty.
- Labour should push for a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians strategy to protect civilians in Syria, help Syrians to establish a democratic, free and socially just country. In the short term, an internationally-led no-fly zone should be set up in Idlib province as soon as possible to prevent further civilian deaths.
- Labour should offer a non-reciprocal preference scheme for imports from economically vulnerable countries immediately upon Britain’s exit of the EU.
- Labour will review all UK tax policies to ensure they do not undermine global agreements, are fair to poor countries, and consistent with the UK’s development objectives.
- Labour will push for public country-by-country reporting of tax information by multinational companies within 2 years, either multilaterally, or if that fails, unilaterally.
A whole Government approach
- Labour will ensure a coherent and comprehensive UK Government approach to eradicating poverty and protecting human rights, by ensuring all relevant policies – on tax, climate, energy, trade, immigration, defence, foreign policy alliances and growth – are ‘pro-development’.
 Budget sector support enables Government to build public services over the long term. The Tories have slashed this since they came to power in 2010.
 This stipulates 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 timely and decisive action from a wide range of approaches, including diplomatic means, sanctions and in the most extreme cases, military operations.
 Including suspending UK arm sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, where there is a clear risk that those arms are being used to violate international humanitarian law.
 This is the only way to ensure that we do not entrench poverty with one hand whilst trying to relieve it with the other.
LCID’s statement on the chemical attack by the Syrian regime in Idlib.
>> Add your name by clicking here. <<
We believe civilian protection should be at the heart of the UK’s foreign policy. The UK is a signatory to the UN’s Responsibility to Protect civilians agreement, and it is time for that to be recognised. Where a government is responsible for mass murder, genocide or war crimes, the international community has a clear obligation to intervene, choosing timely and decisive action from a wide range of approaches, including diplomatic means, sanctions and in the most extreme cases, military operations.
The horrific chemical weapons attack in Idlib, undeniably committed by the Syrian regime, is yet another act of barbarity in the conflict which shows no sign of ending. For too long, the international community has stood back and done nothing, whilst hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, tortured, or forced to flee their homes.
The US. missile strikes on a Syrian government airbase should only be the start of a wider and coherent strategy to protect civilians, and ultimately to help Syrians to establish a democratic, free and socially just country. In the short term, an internationally-led no-fly zone should be set up in Idlib province as soon as possible to prevent further civilian deaths. In addition, whilst DFID’s support for refugees in Lebanon and Jordan is welcome, we, and other European countries, must take our fair share of Syrian refugees too, something this Government has so far failed to do.
Where chemical weapons are used, and where civilians are harmed, we must demonstrate to the perpetrators that such actions will not be tolerated. Inaction has consequences too, and we cannot allow the slaughter to continue, and that is why we support immediate action to prevent further atrocities.
Rachel Reeves MP, LCID Co-President
Alison McGovern MP, LCID VP
Gareth Thomas MP, LCID VP
Ivan Lewis MP, LCID VP
Lord Jack McConnell, LCID VP
Stephen Doughty MP, LCID VP
Angela Smith MP
Ann Coffey MP
Anna Turley MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Chris Leslie MP
David Lammy MP
Emma Reynolds MP
Jim Dowd MP
John Woodcock MP
Julie Ward MEP
Liz Kendall MP
Luciana Berger MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Maria Eagle MP
Mary Creagh MP
Michael Dugher MP
Mike Gapes MP
Neil Coyle MP
Rosena Allin-Khan MP
Ruth Smeeth MP
Stella Creasy MP
Steve Reed MP
Tracy Brabin MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Wes Streeting MP
Dominic Breslin Warrington North CLP
Kevin Peel Manchester Central CLP
Cllr Emma Hoddinott Wentworth & Dearne CLP
Roger Sturge Bristol NW CLP
Simon Beresford Ealing and Acton Central CLP
Katie Curtis Hornsby & Wood Green CLP
Nicky Stubbs Barnsley East CLP
William Tricker Wimbledon CLP
James Austin Hornsey and Wood Green CLP
Tom Corcoran Vauxhall CLP
Bridget Frear Wallasey CLP
Ann Hogan Wallasey CLP
Claire Leigh Vauxhall
Bryan Kelly Stoke North CLP
Sonia Alani Hammersmith CLP
Curtis Myers Liverpool
Connor Cunningham Renfrewshire South CLP
Gary Pepworth Thornbury and Yate CLP
Laura Hutchinson Streatham CLP
Graeme Burrell Clacton
Cate Tuitt Bethal Green & Bow CLP
Marcus Tuitt Bethal Green & Bow CLP
Miriam Rice Ealing North CLP
Sheila Franklin Macclesfield CLP
Adam Foster Scunthorpe CLP
Wendy Martin Rotherham CLP
Cllr Steve wilson Sheffield Hallam CLP
Cllr Mark Allison Mitcham and Morden CLP
Jeremy Cohen Walthamstow CLP
Robert Williams Wealden CLP
Matt Goddin Ilford North CLP
Ian Blades Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland CLP
Mike Foster West Worcester CLP
Cllr Steve Wilson Sheffield Hallam CLP
Joe Oliver Exeter CLP
Isobel Dugher Doncaster Central CLP
John D Turner Birmingham Perry Barr CLP
Rose Grayston Croydon Central CLP
Jeremy Latham Walthamstow CLP
Councillor Carole Bonner Croydon Central CLP
Peter Smith Croydon Central CLP
Mary Gregory St Helens North CLP
Kevin O’Grady Mid Norfolk CLP
Patricia Ferguson Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn CLP
Cllr Paul Williams Milton Keynes South CLP
Fiona Gordon Swansea West CLP
Roshni Fernando Croydon Central CLP
Maxine Gordon Dulwich and Norwood CLP
Louis Nyman East Hampshire CLP
Jack Lister Salford & Eccles CLP
Sarah Kirby Tooting CLP
Joan Ryan MP Enfield North CLP
James A Beckles West Ham CLP
Ken Penton West Ham CLP
Alex Cheney Beckenham CLP
Christopher Rushworth City of Durham CLP
Barry Gilheany Colchester CLP
Sarah Jones Croydon Central CLP
Cornelia Bower Walthamstow CLP
Gerry Friell Walthamstow CLP
Alison Cox Walthamstow CLP
Richard Crowther Penistone and Stocksbridge CLP
Richard Honey West Leeds CLP
Joe Godden Tatton CLP
Rebecca Tinsley Chelsea and Westminster CLP
Dominic McGinley Dunfermline CLP
Daniel Stanley Walthamstow
Alan Featherstone Wigan CLP
Joseph Renny Croydon Central CLP
Mark Boothroyd Camberwell and Peckham CLP
Martin Angus Croydon Central CLP
Daniel Stanley Walthamstow
Stephen Collings Hammersmith and Fulham
Marian O’Regan Belfast
Laura Ilford North
Jean Pownceby Bootle
Stephen Mendel Dalston
Mike Sleeth Wirral South
Leo Gibbons-Plowright Lewisham Deptford CLP
William Cooper Lewisham Deptford CLP
John J. Lindsley Kingston & Surbiton
Mick Carney Sunderland Central
Councillor Varinder Singh Bola Ilford South
Edie Fairservice Croydon Central CLP
Civilians caught up in conflict deserve our protection. Jo Cox was working on a report on the responsibility to protect civilians (R2P) with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, which our Vice President Alison McGovern has assisted in finishing.
Today that report launches, and you can read it here.
To coincide with the launch of this report, we have encouraged Labour MPs to sign our statement on the responsibility to protect civilians, to show our commitment as a Party to the international obligations that the last Labour government signed us up to in 2005.
Over 60 MPs have so far signed the statement so far and we are grateful for their support. The full text and signatories are listed below.
Our Secretary Edie Fairservice has also written about the report and R2P for Labour List, which you can read here.
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 timely and decisive action from a wide range of approaches, 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, recognising that both action and inaction are a choice and each has a consequence. 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
Debbie Abrahams, LCID Vice-President
Gareth Thomas, LCID Vice-President
Hilary Benn, LCID Vice-President
Ivan Lewis, LCID Vice-President
John Battle, LCID Vice-President
Jack McConnell, LCID Vice-President
Seb Dance MEP, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Doughty, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Timms, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Twigg, IDC Chair
Lord Frank Judd
Gloria De Piero
Susan Elan Jones
Unimaginable horror was unfolding in Aleppo last night. There are reportsof children, women, men, medics being summarily executed by pro-Assad forces.
Boris Johnson needs to come forward with a comprehensive plan for protecting civilians in Syria.
Please email your MP now and urge them to attend today’s emergency debate on Syria at 12.30 – and demand that he does so.
You can find out who your MP is and their email address here.
Thank you to everyone who attended our talk with Syrian activists yesterday – we’ll be in touch separately with details about how to get involved in their campaigning.
LCID is joining the call for Theresa May to authorise immediate airdrops of food and medicine to people trapped in besieged areas of Syria.
We are running out of time to help the 275,000 civilians trapped in east Aleppo. The head of the White Helmets Raed al-Saleh has said that Aleppo’s residents are less than 10 days from starvation.
Air-dropping aid is only ever a last resort, but who can credibly claim we have not reached that point?
120+ MPs have so far signed the statement, which is shown in full below. This is a cross-party initiative being led by our Vice-President Alison McGovern MP in her role as Co-Chair of the APPG on Syria and we wholeheartedly encourage all MPs to support it.
Additionally, LCID will be hosting a on Syria and the incredible work of the White Helmets on Monday 12th December in Parliament in Committee Room 9 at 7pm. More details to follow – please coming along if you can make it.
After Rwanda, after Srebrenica, we said ‘never again.’ If that is to mean something, we have to recognise this is our last chance to save lives in Aleppo and act immediately.
In May, responding to the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria, the government said that “preparations for airdrops will now take place and go forward rapidly because there isn’t a moment to lose”.
Almost 200 days later and thousands of Syrians are still waiting, none more desperately than the 275,000 civilians trapped in besieged East Aleppo.
This is now the epicentre of the crisis. The Assad and Putin regimes are moving to ‘exterminate’ all those who have not already been killed as a consequence of their indiscriminate bombing campaigns.
In the last ten days all hospitals there, including the last children’s hospital, have been bombed out of operation. Centres belonging to the heroic volunteers of the White Helmets have also been destroyed. The last aid delivery was three months ago and medical workers estimate we have less than two weeks before all food runs out.
With our Royal Air Force already operational in the air over Syria, we are calling on you to urgently authorise the airdropping of aid to besieged civilian populations. It is simply not acceptable that during the biggest aid operation in the UN’s history, and in the full glare of the world’s media, nearly 100,000 children are facing the slowest, cruelest death because we cannot reach them with food and medical supplies.
Airdropping aid is only ever a last resort, but who can credibly claim we have not reached that point? The Syrian government is refusing all attempts to allow access to UN relief agencies whilst simultaneously dropping chlorine gas onto civilian populations.
Our country has dependable partners on the ground in Aleppo, such as the White Helmets, who are ready to coordinate collection and distribution of the airdrops if we can summon the courage to carry them out.
The time for excuses is over.