Harriet’s first speech outlines some critical areas for international development

Harriet Harman speaking at ActionAid

This article was originally posted on Left Foot Forward.

This morning, shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman gave a speech at ActionAid headquarters in London. Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Ms Harman outlined six key priorities for the future of international development:

1. Realising the 0.7 per cent GNP pledge for aid;

2. Strengthening women’s rights around the world;

3. Support for remittances (money sent by people in developed countries to their family members in their country of origin);

4. Trade, tax and global growth;

5. The role of development in conflict prevention; and

6. Meeting the needs of developing countries in the fight against climate change.

It was that first point that Ms Harman concentrated on to make a direct call to the government:

“We cannot have succeeded in the struggle to have a new UN women’s agency only to discover that its governing board is men. That would be to contradict everything that it stands for.

“And the executive board should reach out beyond women in the UN missions and women in governments and include women in civil society organisations.”

In order to achieve this and to ensure the UK’s position as a world leader in women’s rights, Ms Harman decried the fact that among the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office ministerial teams, there was not a single woman.

She said:

“We [Labour] are calling on the Government to make a ministerial appointment of a woman to carry on the work that Glenys Kinnock was doing when we were in government – a role you campaigned for. She led the UK’s work on tackling violence against women overseas and she did a great job.

“The first time such an appointment had been made in the UK. That was important leadership and the government must continue it.”

Well, the government must have been half listening as Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone has, just today, had ‘International Violence Against Women Champion’ added to her brief. Potentially stopping well short of what Ms Harman called for, there is little indication as yet as to what authority Ms Featherstone will have, nor what resources she will have at hand to make a difference to the lives of women across the world.

On remittances, Ms Harman drew on the experiences of many in her constituency, including a report she compiled in 2007:

“I call them the ‘hidden heroes of international development’. People living in my constituency who come from Sierra Leone, Nigeria or Ghana who are living here and working hard bringing up their families. Sometimes doing more than one job, like office cleaning.

“As well as paying their taxes and providing for their family, they also send money back to their home country… But I think we can and should do much more to support remittances.”

It was clear from the passion in her speech that Ms Harman looks determined to make a difference in her new role. Before the election, there was cross-party consensus on the enshrining of the 0.7 per cent law; it was now Labour’s role, she said, to press the coalition to ensure that this Bill is put before Parliament. In a time where the government seems to turn with the tide, Labour:

“… doesn’t want to risk this being the next promise abandoned.”

Left Foot Forward has previously written about a worrying lack of ambition, ideas or leadership emanating from the coalition on international development. With these six points, Harriet Harman has once again demonstrated that Labour is providing leadership on this issue – the focus on trade, tax and global growth is therefore particularly welcome, and LCID looks forward to hearing more on the shadow team’s proposals.

You can read ActionAid’s news from International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women here.

By Tim Nicholls

Join Hilary Benn and others for a public debate in Leeds!

On Saturday 4 December, Emma Hoddinott will be chairing a public debate in Leeds to discuss sereral areas of international development. Among the panel of speakers will be Hilary Benn MP, former International Development Secretary.

Saturday 4 December
Leeds Civic Hall
1:45pm for a 2pm start, until 4pm

Topics for the debate will include: Should our international aid budget rise by a third? Is Aid or Trade better? Can International Aid make a difference?

The event promises to be great, with a wide ranging discussion from several different speakers. It is free to attend and you can register online. If you’re in the area, please do come along!

Brown gives evidence to the select committee

Earlier this week, Gordon Brown gave evidence to the International Development Select Committee, warning that increased protectionism during the global recession would hurt African development.

The BBC have a great article about the session and you can watch footage of Brown’s evidence here.

As you may know, we won’t meet the MDGs on current trends – we’re way off-track. The sanitation target within MDG 7 for example won’t be met in Africa until the 23rd century – 200 years late. It’s a desperate situation, and it was good to see the Select Committee focus on the MDGs. At LCID we’re hoping this signifies a decent focus on international development in the coalition’s plans.

At LCID, we’ll be focusing on the MDGs over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more.

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.

Watch: LCID Interviews Ed Miliband

Today is the last day in our series of Labour Leadership videos. Each of the candidates has answered your questions on camera.

Today hear from Ed Miliband, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.

What do you think about his answers? What else would you ask the Labour Leadership candidates?

If you’ve still got a burning question, come to our Labour in the World Leadership Hustings in Bristol on 09 September – for full details and to RSVP click here.

Watch: Diane Abbott speaks to LCID

Every day this week, we’re showing you the answers that the Labour Leadership candidates gave to your questions.

Today hear from Diane Abbott MP.

We apologise for the error in the sound quality – a full transcript is below.

What do you think about her answers? What else would you ask her? Let us know by posting your comments.

Every day this week, we’ll be adding a video from each of the leadership candidates, so stay tuned.

What is your vision for Britain’s role in tackling extreme poverty?

DfID does a fantastic job, but I would fund it better, I would ensure that less of its money goes on consultants advising people how to privatise their public sectors, and I think water and sanitation should be much higher up the agenda.

Do you think the UK financial sector should pay more in taxation to prevent cuts in public services at home and pay for development and climate change projects abroad?

I’m a big supporter of the financial transactions tax, and its gaining support amongst European governments and in American politics, although the administration has yet to sign of for it. I think that a Robin Hood Tax would serve a number of useful functions. First of all, it might take some of the heat out of the financial bubble, Secondly it would raise money for worth while causes like development. And thirdly, some of the money could go to fill the gap in the budget deficit.

Did we do enough in government to make trade fair?

I think trade, not aid, is the key to giving justice and decent living standards to people in the third world. I think we have to understand what went wrong with Doha, that people just felt it was just opening the door for western multinationals to their countries and it wasn’t an equal negotiation. But I think we have to remember that if Africa, much of Asia and Latin America were to increase their trade by just 1% that would take 128 million people out of poverty.

How would you help ensure that world leaders take ambitious action on climate change?

I think we have to broaden the movement for climate change in this country, and that involves bringing in Diaspora communities, whether from Africa or people who come from small island states, who know what the reality is for climate change for their countries. And we need lead internationally in offering third world countries support and compensation to fight climate change and deal with the effects of climate change.

Should the International Development budget be protected?

It’s important to ring fence it, and to ring fence it not in a bogus Tory way, where by the redirect DfID money into what is really defence aims – but it is important to ring fence it because it is the most elemental form of justice, putting money towards giving international equality in some of the poorest countries in the world

Watch: Andy Burnham interviewed by LCID

Every day this week, we’re showing you the answers that the Labour Leadership candidates gave to your questions.

Today hear from Andy Burnham, Shadow Health Secretary.

What do you think about his answers? What else would you ask him? Let us know by posting your comments.

Every day this week, we’ll be adding a video from each of the leadership candidates, so stay tuned.