Three biggest parties 'must do better' on international development

By staff writers
April 17, 2010

Party leaders will mark the election campaign ‘World Poverty Day’ tomorrow (Sunday 18 April) by outlining their visions of how the UK should act on its responsibility to the wider world.

Brown, Cameron and Clegg will set out how their parties would address Britain’s contribution to fighting poverty and injustice around the world.

However a ranking carried out by the World Development Movement suggests that none of the three main parties score well on their plans to tackle key international development issues.

The Conservatives fare particularly poorly (three out of ten), Labour (five out of ten), and the Liberal Democrats (six out of ten) receive a middling rating. The Greens (eight out of ten) come out on top on issues such as trade justice, international aid and IMF reform.

David Cameron is expected to visit a leading aid agency on Sunday, Nick Clegg will speak at a church in New Malden, Surrey and Gordon Brown will address an audience in Milton Keynes on international development on Saturday afternoon.

The Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are also participating in World Poverty Day with press statements and visits to anti-poverty charities.

Julian Oram, the World Development Movement's head of policy commented: "We’re sure to hear a lot of noble words around World Poverty Day from the leaders, and it’s heartening that they all rate the issue as an election theme. But when you look at how the three main parties actually plan to tackle poverty in the world today, you’ll see a considerable gap between the grand posturing of the leaders and the stunted ambition of the policies they actually hold.

"For example, anti-poverty campaigners have been shocked by the Conservative party’s admission that part of the aid budget under a Tory government could be used for British military operations in developing countries. And Labour’s promise to help countries cope with climate change would also come out of the aid budget, diverting finance away from health and education, rather than being additional to that much needed aid.

“The take-home message to the three main party leaders is: must do better if you genuinely want to tackle the root causes of global poverty.”

In a shared manifesto, Vote Global, over 180 civil society organisations, including all of Britain’s leading development and aid organisations, have also set out the key political commitments necessary for Britain to play its full part in fighting poverty and injustice around the world.

“We ask the next UK Government, whoever wins the election, to step up Britain’s global leadership and contribution to fighting world poverty and to deliver on the actions set out in the Vote Global manifesto,” said Nick Roseveare, Chief Executive of Bond, the UK membership body for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in international development.

“We very much welcome that all the main political parties have committed to keeping this country’s promise of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on international development by 2013 and will introduce legislation to keep it at least at that level.

"Tackling poverty and inequality is about more than just aid. Other policies – on international trade, debt and banking, climate change and so on – must also support the goal of eradicating global poverty and meeting poor people’s basic rights to a dignified, educated, safe, and healthy life.”

“The British people care passionately about the poorest people in the world, even when money is tight – the staggeringly generous responses to fundraising appeals prove it. Through campaigns like Make Poverty History, and on climate change, the public have told politicians clearly that they expect action. The organisations behind the Vote Global manifesto have millions of active supporters, far more than the membership of the UK political parties. They are making their voice heard.”

All politicians elected on May 6th are being asked to hold the new Government to account against the demands of the Vote Global manifesto to improve the UK’s own policies on international development and to play a leading and progressive role as a member state of the EU and on the global stage, starting with the G8/G20 in June and the UN summit on world poverty in September.


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