The Global #changewesee

Over the last two weeks, hundreds of Labour activists have been tweeting about change they’ve seen in their communities. From new schools, to refurbished hospitals, to libraries, to SureStart centres, the campaign has catalogued hundreds of examples of the tangible differences that the Labour government has made in the last 13 years and reminded us of the stark choice we face at the next election.

But the truth is that #changewesee isn’t just in the UK but around the world. Thanks to the Labour Government’s commitment to alleviating poverty through the work of DFID, in the same way thousands of communities in the UK have benefited from our investment in schools and hospitals, so have tens of thousands of communities around the world thanks to the Government’s record of increasing aid and cancelling debt.

Very few Labour activists will have had the opportunity to see the transformation that has been made to communities around the world, but in their roles as ministers for International Development both Douglas Alexander MP and Mike Foster MP have had the opportunity. At the launch of LCID on Monday night, I asked them to share with us one example of #changewesee during their travels around the world.

Douglas Alexander shared about a primary school in Uganda, recalling how abolishing schools fees on the Friday, saw hundreds of extra children turn up eager to learn on the Monday. He said that each class was full of children, all sat quietly keen to learn. A stark reminder of the importance of how the UK government has been helping to unlock potential through its support for universal primary education.

Mike Foster MP talked about visiting Chars, low-lying sand islands in Bangladesh. He described how this community was prone to the effects of rising sea levels, but thanks to help from the UK government villagers had been able to raise their homes above the level of 2007 floods, develop sustainable livelihoods allowing them to earn an income through growing crops and by helping them to build latrines to reduce the incidence and spread of disease. You can find out more about the visit to Bangladesh in the video below;

If you have a global #changewesee that you have experienced and want to share, please get in touch with us by emailing tim@lcid.org.uk.

By Tom Baker

Douglas Alexander speaks at Labour Campaign for International Development Launch

Last night, the Labour Campaign for International Development officially launched at an event at the House of Commons, with an impressive audience of politicians, the international development sector and party activists. There was only room to stand as Secretary of State Douglas Alexander began his keynote speech, with Minister Mike Foster also taking questions and Glenys Kinnock, Minister for Africa, in attendance.

Douglas Alexander shared that the Labour movement has long identified itself strongly with international development. Members of the Labour Party fought powerfully for justice in South Africa during apartheid, refusing to ignore Mandela’s long walk to political freedom. Indeed, this passion for equality and justice is the foundation for the Department for International Development (DfID). The New Labour government created the department in 1997 in recognition of the attention that international development deserves and requires. “It is on the shoulders of giants,” such as Glenys Kinnock that the UK’s modern approach to international development stands, Douglas told us.

What makes LCID unique, as Douglas said, is that we represent a group that unquestionably holds Labour values of fairness and justice at its core, and also unequivocally believes in the need for international development. The Tory threat to DfID and the developing world is real: siphoning off money to the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Energy and Climate Change will leave DfID stripped of its power to help the developing world. This is a real threat with a reach that will span the globe.

.

But there is more to be done than exposing the Tories: we must make a positive case for Labour’s approach to international development.

Douglas Alexander highlighted three points that will help us achieve this: meeting our international commitments; getting suggestions for the manifesto; and then taking our case to the public. We support a global financial transaction tax, but we must persuade people that it is the right way forward. We believe that an international development ministry is so much more than an aid agency, but we must persuade people we’re right. We believe that, “by the strength of our common endeavours” we can create lasting positive change, but again, we must persuade people that it’s the right thing to do. This is however, far from an insurmountable task. As Douglas said, events such as the recent Haiti earthquake have shown us that what unites us is the “strength and overriding sense of fairness and compassion in the British public.”

Our money must be well spent and we must be wise with it. This is why a financial transactions tax will give international banks the opportunity to give more back to society. And aid must not be contingent on conformity with a British government’s ideological underpinnings.

In international development, as in many areas of government, there are times and issues said that stick in you memory and drive you on. For Douglas, this was a time about 5 years ago when he left a PMQs preparation session with Tony Blair to see Nelson Mandela speak on Parliament Square. Mandela, once vilified by other British politicians, proclaimed, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great.”

It is not pride that motivates us at LCID to rise to this challenge; it is the common belief that a world with less poverty, disease and death benefits us all. We will relentlessly pursue this goal, whether it complements or defies the political ideology of the day. We will construct and respond to the debate. And we welcome everyone that shares our vision, so please do get involved.

Next Steps

LCID wants to build momentum on last night’s launch in the run up to the next election. Here are some of the ways we’d like you to be involved:

1. Help us support Gareth Thomas MP, DFID Minister of State, in Harrow West this Saturday 6th. Meeting at West Harrow Tube station at 11am. Sign up on Facebook.

2. Get more involved with LCID. Please sign up to our email updates, become our Fan on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. We’d love you to get involved in helping to run LCID, just email David at david@lcid.org.uk

3. Sign the Global Poverty Promise – the campaign to make 0.7% spending on aid UK law.

4. Add your Two Things. Everyone’s Two Things from last night will appear on our blog very shortly!

Thank you, from David Taylor, Tim Nicholls, Serena O’Sullivan, Nick Osbourne, James Anthony, Tim Shand, Daniel Sleat, Tom Baker, Steve Cockburn and all of the LCID Team.

Launch Event NOW MONDAY at 5.15PM for a 5.30PM start

We have had to reschedule our launch the Labour Campaign for International Development with Secretary of State, Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP.

Please note the new details:

MONDAY 1ST February | 5.15pm (Speeches at 5.30pm)
Committee Room 12, House of Commons. Entrance: Main gate, Cromwell Green

We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we hope you are still able to attend. Please RSVP to serena@lcid.org.uk

Yours sincerely,
David

David Taylor
Chair, Labour Campaign for International Development

Come along to our Launch event with Douglas Alexander!

At the Houses of Parliament, on Tuesday 02 February at 7pm, we will formally launch the Labour Campaign for International Development group.

Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, will give a speech and answer your questions. The event will take place in the Wilson Room in Portcullis House at the Houses of Parliament.

It will be a chance for your to  ask your questions of the Secretary of State, hear about what Labour has achieved on International Development, find out more about LCID and how you can get involved.

It should be a great event, it’s certainly an appropriate venue – it was Harold Wilson who as Labour PM set up the first Overseas Development Department in 1964! Spaces are limited, so please email your RSVP to serena@lcid.org.uk.