Sign up to Robin Hood’s Saving Challenge

Rather than telling the Government how it can hack at public services to lower the deficit, why not take part in a real debate about how the economy could recover? The people over at the Robin Hood Tax are running the Saving Challenge to do just that.

A series of taxes on the banks in the UK could raise tens of billions each year to help recoup some of this lost money and help the poorest at home and abroad who have been hit hardest by the economic crisis.

They’ll be turning your responses into a daily blog and then reporting back to us all at the end of July.

LCID supports the Robin Hood Tax, and has since the campaign was launched. A small levy on financial transactions could raise such staggering amounts of money that it could save the lives of thousands.

Have a look at their website and sign up to the Saving Challenge.

Invitation: Join LCID as we host Douglas Alexander – This Tuesday!

Join Labour Campaign for International Development as we host Rt Hon Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

Tuesday 29 June | 7.30-8.30pm
Grand Committee Room, Houses of Parliament

Almost five years since 250,000 marched through the streets of Edinburgh in support of Make Poverty History, and millions around the world took part in Live 8 concerts – and in what will be a key year for international development with the UN Millennium Development Goals summit in December, Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP will set out the key challenges going forward for the movement to tackle global poverty – and his assessment of the first few weeks of the Con-Lib government.

The speech will be followed by a Q+A session.

To attend, please RSVP to tim@lcid.org.uk by 5pm on the day of the event.

This event is open to anyone interested in international development, so please forward this invitation to your contacts and friends.

Guests will need to go through security at Cromwell Green entrance, and ask for directions to the Grand Committee Room. Apologies for the short notice of this event.

Many thanks,

David

David Taylor
Chair, Labour Campaign for International Development

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through….Hyde Park!

Speaker’s Corner is a famed place for freedom of speech, where the good, the bad and the ugly have all enjoyed the freedom to speak openly about their passions, causes and beliefs.

On the very sunny Saturday just gone, LCID went down to hear Robin Hood and a Banker battle it out on soapboxes – cheered and jeered by a gang of merry men and women, in a flash-mob as part of a national day of action for the Robin Hood Tax campaign.

LCID backs the campaign and calls for all parties to support it. Supporters are calling for a tiny tax of 0.05% on banking transactions, with the resulting funds spent on aid for poverty both at home and abroad and climate change adaptation funding for developing countries.

In the first Gordon Brown on the Road event we attended last week, the Prime Minister spoke of the responsibility the financial sector has in overcoming the economic crisis. The Robin Hood Tax offers part of that solution and can help lift millions out of unnecessary poverty.

Show your support for the Robin Hood tax campaign by taking action on the website.

By Serena O’Sullivan

LCID attends Rankin exhibition at 10 Downing Street

David and I were delighted that LCID were invited to 10 Downing Street to look at an exhibition by the photographer Rankin on his pictures from the DRC. The event was attended by charities, NGOs and publications looking to write a piece with a development slant. It was great to meet everyone and get a chance to spread the word about LCID.

The exhibition itself was incredibly exciting and innovative. The photographs were mainly portraits of locals from a villiage which had recently quadrupled in population. I found it refreshing to see a different kind of Africa represented through these portait pictures. All too often we are shown the pain, devestation and famine rather than the hope, laughter and love. The pictures themselves comprised of mothers and children, lovers and friends. I got a real sense of community from the story the pictures told.

After wondering around the exhibition for a while it was time for the speeches. First Gordon Brown spoke about how important it was to to shine a light on the problems in the DRC, and congratulated Rankin on his exhibition. Then Rankin spoke about how he had gone to Oxfam wanting to do something, but not really sure what. They gave him a list of five countries he could visit to photograph. Explaining that he loved an underdog he chose the DRC which was bottom of their list! The first time he went he took many of the portrait photographs which were on display. He told a great story of when he was coming to the end of his trip he showcased the pictures he had taken in the middle of the camp. Thousands of people turned up to look at the pictures, with many demanding he take their picture! What ensued involved Rankin lining up everyone in a circle round the camp and taking group shots as he moved down the line. Back in Britain he showcased his pictures and raised over £1 million pounds, which is just astounding. It also inspired him to go back a second time.

When Rankin returned he came armed with over 200 disposable cameras which he gave to the people of the villiage to use. These photographs were also displayed at Downing Street, and were my favourite ones by far! Rankin explained that a lot of the people had never used a camera before, and he had a lot of fun teaching them how.

I found Rankin’s story compelling and felt very inspired by his exploits. The last speech came from Barbara, head of Oxfam, who thanked Rankin for his work and explained there was still much to do in the DRC.

The event ended with everyone being given a copy of Rankin’s book showcasing his pictures from the DRC entitled ‘Congo Family Album’. I even managed to get him to sign mine and dedicate it to LCID. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the exhibition and felt happy to have seen the DRC in such a positive light.

If you want to read more about Rankin’s time in the DRC please visit the Oxfam website.

By Holly Mitchell

Tom Clarke supports LCID!

The Labour Campaign for International Development has received more Parliamentary support, this time from Tom Clarke MP. A veteran of International Development discourse, Tom Clarke is a member of the All Party Group on Overseas Development (APGOOD) and introduced the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Bill in the House of Commons.

“I am delighted to see the promotion of International Development within the Labour Party. Labour has an outstanding record on development issues. A department of Government focused on such an important subject has sent an important message to everyone who cares. Labour’s commitment to achieve the 0.7% GNI United Nations target has even led opposition parties to do the same. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is a crucial objective and a Labour Government with a renewed mandate is much more likely to lead the world in making all this a reality.”

-Tom Clarke MP

To see more support from Labour MPs for LCID, click here.


By Tim Nicholls

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.

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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.

LCID Launch Tonight!

Later today, the Labour Campaign for International Development will have its official launch in an event at the House of Commons. This is an exciting day for LCID: we have already begun the debate about International Development on this website and now we have the chance to push forward, to gain support for a progressive, Labour, approach to International Development in this country. This purpose is clear to our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown:

“Tackling poverty is one of the greatest causes of our time. The Labour Party and the Labour Government has been on the frontline in the fight against global poverty and now the Labour Campaign for International Development will provide a way in which members who care about the issue can keep informed, contribute policy and help keep it high on the agenda.”

A belief in the empowerment and progress that aid and assistance provide has been at the core of the Labour movement for many years. Our group aims to build on this support, and the amazing progress that the Labour Government of the last 13 years has delivered, to go further. The job is far from done. Although our nation’s aid helps lift 3 million people out of poverty every year, around a billion people still live on less than a dollar a day.

The Left will not sit back and relax whilst this is still the case. The Government has introduced draft legislation to commit the UK to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid. This landmark bill would cement the UK’s position as a world leader in International Development.

“The creation of DFID is one of the greatest achievements of this Labour government. It has become so established here in the UK and around the world that it is easy to forget that it didn’t exist before 1997. But back then Britain used to be considered something of a road-block to effective international action to tackle global poverty. That has been transformed since 1997 and the UK is now a world leader in the international development community. We have taken a lead role on a range of initiatives – from the Millennium Development Goals to cancelling the debt of some of the world’s poorest countries. These things simply wouldn’t have happened without a Labour government.

Labour has a record to be proud of – but there is still so much more to do. I see that regularly through my experience as a member of the House of Commons International Development Committee. That’s why it is so important that Labour party members and supporters keep up the pressure for action to tackle global poverty. That’s why it is so important that we secure a fourth-term Labour government to enable these things to happen. And that’s why I am so pleased about the establishment of the Labour Campaign for International Development. It will be a challenge to this new group both to highlight our achievements and to push the international development agenda within the party forward.

I am disappointed to be missing tonight’s launch event – I am currently in Zimbabwe with the International Development Committee along with my Labour colleagues John Battle and Hugh Bayley – but I look forward to working with LCID as we move towards the general election and beyond.”

– Richard Burden MP, Member of the International Development Select Committee

LCID will also be exploring the debate on International Development up to, and beyond, the general election. We scrutinise the work of all parties and act in the interests of development, not politics.

“It is great to see the many supporters of the cause of international development within the Labour Party coming together in this new group. I hope it can provide a significant focus for campaigning and new ideas in the run up to the general election, and help set an ambitious agenda for global social justice in a fourth-term Labour government.”

– Douglas Alexander MP, Secretary of State for International Development

We are excited about the future that lies ahead of LCID and we hope you can be a part of it. If you can come to our launch this evening, at 5.15 in Committee Room 12, House of Commons, please come along. Beyond the launch, we will be campaigning, writing and debating, so please get in touch if you want to get involved.

If you can’t make our event, we will be tweeting from it, so you can follow what is going on using the #labourcid hashtag.

By Tim Nicholls

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.