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

Owen Smith MP signs LCID pledge for Leadership candidates

owen-smith-mpAs with previous leadership contests in 2010 and 2015, LCID will not be endorsing a leadership candidate in the current contest.

However we have asked candidates to sign the International pledge for 2016 Leadership candidates.

We are delighted that Owen Smith MP has signed the pledge and agreed to uphold the principles it contains.

We are awaiting a response from Jeremy Corbyn MP.

 

International pledge for 2016 Leadership candidates:

 

  1. I believe tackling poverty and inequality is what Labour governments are for. Any government I lead will take a ‘whole government’ approach to global justice, ensuring that our policies on tax, trade, climate change, home affairs, education, business regulation, defence, and security deliver for the world’s poorest people.

 

  1. I back British aid. I will ensure we spend 0.7% of GNI on aid and spend it well, focusing our aid exclusively and explicitly on tackling poverty and inequality, even in the hardest to reach places.

 

  1. I want DFID to be a development department, not just an aid administrator. I will ensure DFID is an innovative, independent department with a seat at the cabinet table and representation on all the relevant cabinet committees

 

  1. The Government I lead will pursue an ethical foreign policy and champion a progressive approach to humanitarian intervention in line with our international obligations, such as the UN’s Responsibility To Protect Civilians commitment.

 

International Development at #Lab10 Conference – Monday 27th

International Development will get its moment in the spotlight this morning when Shadow Secretary of State, Douglas Alexander MP addresses conference as part of the Britain in the World plenary session (Conference Hall from 9am).

Once the speeches are over lunchtime has a solidarity theme to it, with Parliamentary Friends of Colombia hosting Colombia: The Struggle for Justice at 1pm in Midland Hotel – Alexandra A and the New Statesman asking Gaza life support: Is aid a failure of politics? also at 1pm but at the Novotel Hotel – Chetham Room

At 4.15pm representatives of LCID will be attending the policy session in Manchester Central, Charter 1 to let the National Policy Forum know our ideas on what our development policy should be.

The evening slot sees the first event on climate change, with the Foreign Policy Centre pulling together an excellent panel, which includes Gordon Brown’s Special Adviser on Climate Change, Michael Jacobs to explore what happens After Copenhagen: How can we galvanise global action on climate change? (5.30pm at Palace Hotel, Palace 7).

How to do development in fragile states is a hot topic at the moment, so World Vision and Saferworld’s event, which includes former DFID minister Ivan Lewis MP on the panel, The Afghan, Somali…and me? The UK’s engagement in fragile countries (Manchester Central, The Usdaw Marquee – Room 2 at 5.30pm) should be interesting.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to join LCID members at 8pm in the bar of the Midland Hotel for a drink. Look out for the t-shirts and banner.

Disclaimer – We’re human, we make mistakes, the fringe guide makes mistakes, so we offer our apologies if we’ve omitted events or got our venues confused. Let us know by e-mailing tom@lcid.org.uk and we’ll try to fix it!

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.

International Development at #Lab10 Conference – Sunday 26th

The fringe programme kicks off and the highlight for LCID is Fighting Poverty in the ‘No-Money era’: Could Robin Hood protect the poor and the Planet? Hosted by Oxfam and the TUC at 6pm in Manchester Central, Central 4.

LCID has been campaigning in support of a Robin Hood Tax for the last year, and we recently asked all the Leadership candidates if they supported the idea. We’ll be listening with interest to the debate and what the new leader has to say on the issue.

At the same time in Manchester Central (The Usdaw Marquee – Room 3), Amnesty International will be exploring Defending the defendersHuman rights have a place at the heart of UK foreign policy. The panel includes Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, a Burmese Human Rights Defender. A stark reminder that in many places around the world, the idea of a Party Conference to debate and discuss ideas wouldn’t be able to happen.

This evening sees the first of a number of fringe events throughout out the week focusing on Palestine. Palestine: For peace and justice: why the siege on Gaza must be ended, hosted by Unite together with Palestine Solidarity Campaign & Labour Friends of Palestine is at 5.30pm at the Radisson Hotel – Harty/Barbirolli.

Finally, a number of LCID friends will be heading along to the Save the Children reception, which starts at 9.00pm in the Derby Suite at the Midland Hotel.

Disclaimer – We’re human, we make mistakes, the fringe guide makes mistakes, so we offer our apologies if we’ve omitted events or got our venues confused. Let us know by e-mailing tom@lcid.org.uk and we’ll try to fix it!

Leadership candidates back the Robin Hood Tax

The Labour Campaign for International Development has supported the Robin Hood Tax campaign for a financial transactions tax from the start. We asked all five leadership candidates their opinion on the Robin Hood Tax when we interviewed them recently.

You can watch their answers below, and see all five interviews in full here. To keep up on the latest on from us here at LCID, join our email list by clicking on the icon blow. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

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All the leadership videos, here, in one place…

Over the past few days, we’ve released videos of each of the Labour leadership candidates answering your questions.

Here are the videos again, in one article. Don’t forget to comment at the bottom of the page and tell us what you think of their answers. Could they be better? Do you think the candidates have it right? Let us know.

If you want to put more questions to the candidates in person, sign up for our hustings in Bristol.

To vote in the Leadership election, don’t forget to join the Labour Party for a £1 before 08 September!

Ed Miliband

David Miliband

Andy Burnham

Ed Balls

Diane Abbott

We apologise for the sound quality in the interview with Diane Abbott – a full transcript can be found here.