Letter to America
-May 21, 2002
Ekklesia's director has responded to the recent visit by Jim Wallis to the UK with a letter published in the Sojourners weekly bulletin, 'Sojomail'.
The visit by Wallis, during which he met with the Chancellor Gordon
Brown and International Development Secretary Clare Short, began
to lay the foundations for a "U.S./U.K. transatlantic faith-based
alliance" aimed at mobilizing people and pushing our governments
"toward effective moral and political leadership in seriously reducing
In a letter, Ekklesia's director welcomed the new alliance, but also warned against Labour's track record.
He wrote; "The Labour administration came to power in 1997 with
the manifesto commitment to increase the proportion of our Gross
Domestic Product spent on overseas aid. Five years on we have had
a great deal of talk, but very little in the way of action."
He continued; "The percentage is still about 3.5% despite numerous
opportunities to greatly increase it."
"Shortly before the 2001 general election the government was running
a £23 billion budget surplus on its annual spend of just under $400
billion. At the same time our entire annual overseas aid budget
stood at just under £4 billion. But despite one of the strongest
economic situations that the country has found itself in for decades,
Chancellor Gordon Brown has repeatedly refused to substantially
increase the overseas aid budget, choosing instead to pay off a
few billion from our own national debt. It is clear that our own
debts take priority over cancelling those of developing nations."
"Whilst there has been a great deal of talk, the walk has been conspicuous
by its absence. The quotes that Jim gives from Blair and Brown are
very similar to ones that we have heard repeatedly from these leaders
over the last five years. There is little reason to think that they
will now be backed up with any more action than they have been before."