Christians and others working in the field of International Development have said Conservative policy looks like ‘political posturing’ rather than a serious commitment to tackling global poverty.
In a letter to the Observer today (18 April) which is World Poverty day, Anne Pettifor, former director of Jubilee 2000, Richard Bennett CBE Former chair of Make Poverty History, Lord Joffe Former chair of Oxfam and Kel Currah, Former deputy director of advocacy at World Vision say Tory proposals “look like crude attempts to export failed ideological or populist policies, against the advice of leading practioners and aid charities”.
Their letter comes after the World Development Movement produced rankings of all the policies of the parties, which put the Conservatives in last place.
The party has committed itself in its election manifesto to the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on international aid by 2013. But they have angered aid agencies with plans to set up a new stabilisation and reconstruction force within the armed forces which would carry out aid work and infrastructure projects in the aftermath of combat.
The aid experts voice fears that aid money will be diverted to the military and away from the fight against poverty.
Today’s letter to the Observer says: “The welcome shift in Conservative policy to back the 0.7 per cent promise in 2005 has been much vaunted by David Cameron, but despite repeated requests they have refused clearly to commit to ensure aid is not diverted for other purposes. Their commitment to the 0.7 per cent target risks looking like political positioning rather than a serious commitment to tackling global poverty.
“As concerning as how much the Conservatives will actually spend on tackling global poverty, is how they suggest spending it. Access to basic services like health and education are basic rights. Conservative proposals to distribute vouchers for private schools in slums, to create an X-Factor-style competition to decide who gets aid, and a shift to private provision of healthcare, look like crude attempts to export failed ideological or populist policies, against the advice of leading practitioners and aid charities.
“Though we would much like there to be, there is no consensus on this issue. Instead, there is a serious choice about whether and how Britain should help the world's poorest people.”
The focus of this Thursday's live televised debate between the party leaders will be foreign policy.