18 February 2012

Rumblings, Grumbling and Shadowing: UK aid

With the increased rumblings and grumbling about why international development remains a worthwhile investment at 0.54% of Gross National Income (see the Financial Times on India, see Andrew Gilligan on the new International Citizen Service and see John Redwood MP in Prospect) those who care about international development should welcome all the political support it can get, regardless of their Party political preferences.

In September 2010 and 2011 I wrote a couple of blogs after the respective Labour Party conferences. The first asked, with Blair and Brown gone, who will be the development champion for Labour? The second reported on the increased level of activity on development within the Party but pined for a single focal point.

A couple of weeks ago I met Ivan Lewis, the new Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. It was an encouraging meeting in that he seems to be putting a lot of energy and commitment into the role and is providing the kind of focal point needed for an effective Opposition Party on development (keep a watch out for the very informative newsletter from the Shadow team).

Holding the government to account on its commitments (have we all given up on 0.7% in this parliament?), coming up with alternative policy positions on key issues, and developing new ideas unencumbered by the immediate worry of how to actually implement them: these are all vital functions of Opposition.

The Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell invested a lot of time and energy in the Shadow Secretary position before May 2010 and it served him--and DFID--well post May 2010. It is good to see Labour now have a dedicated Shadow position for International Development. Clearly they care about international development.

The next step is to get the Party Leader, Ed Miliband, talking about it.

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