The World According to Robert Zoellick

April 16, 2010

Will aid collapse?; best blogs; China demystified; green flying toilets; good news on maternal mortality; telly not twitter; new film competition; Coca Colla and revenge of the pixels: links I liked

April 16, 2010

The UK elections and international development

April 16, 2010
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The UK election campaign is grinding towards the vote on 6 May and as usual, foreign policy in general and development in particular won’t get much of a look in. If you want to do something about it, then visit ‘Vote Global’. Last night’s TV debate (which I really enjoyed – sure sign that I’m losing any remaining links to normality) between the leaders of the main parties was restricted to domestic issues, but hopefully we’ll see some foreign policy and development topics discussed in the remaining 2 debates.

It’s not just the make-up of the next government that makes this election so important – it’s the make-up of the next parliament. We’ll have a huge turnover of MPs in safe seats thanks to a large number of the current lot retiring and – if the polls are right – there’s likely to be a number of seats swapping hands between parties. Oxfam is preparing for the new intake, so if you want to put development issues firmly on their agenda – do it here.

One of the reasons for development’s relative invisibility in the campaign thus far is however, positive – the extraordinary level of consensus in UK politics on aid and development (for example they’ve all pledged to reach the aid target of 0.7% of GNI) makes it a non-story for journalists.

All three main parties (Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) have agreed to address poverty this Sunday (18 April) and here c/o the ONE campaign, are the three leaders gamely setting out their stalls on youtube. Enjoy (if that’s the right word……….)

Gordon Brown

David Cameron

and Nick Clegg

finally, Political Climate has some thoughts on the parties’ (and their supporters’) stance on climate change

3 comments

  1. I’m guessing we’ll hear some of your comments on the actual differences between the parties’ policies on aid and development too… for example it seems like a Conservative government might go more down the route of measurable ‘projects’ in preference to wider direct budget support etc.

    I’ve also heard people wonder how well the different parties would actually stick to the 0.7% if in power… for example, apparently many Conservative MPs don’t agree with it so might push for cutting it in relation to domestic spending when things are tight?

    Duncan: Hi Stephen, see previous blog on Conservatives Development Green Paper for some of the differences http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=458. On whether parties stick to their aid promises – that’s the really big question. Whoever wins on 6 May, there will be huge fiscal pressures on them to backtrack, and it will take a combination of strong research, advocacy and public campaigning to hold them to their word.

  2. Good post but could also mention what the small parties say, especially the greens.

    Duncan: you have an open invitation to do so, Ellie!

  3. Hi Duncan,

    The 0.7% taarget is largely outdated in today’s financial context. There are many studies stating so. i would like to have your views on it.

    Second, all UK parties focus on the MDGs but some economists criticise the MDGs stating in fact they have no development concept in them? What is your view and why should Oxfam and the UK work towards the MDGs?

    Duncan: Not sure what you mean by ‘outdated in today’s financial context’ – do you mean governments can’t afford it> Sure, the 0.7% target is 40 years old, and fairly arbitrary, but it has acquired a useful role as a benchmark that some countries have reached, and many more have promised to reach. It’s a sign of how serious governments are on quantity of aid, though of course it says nothing on quality, which is just as important

    Similarly, I have plenty of questions about the MDGs, (stick MDGs in the search engine on this blog if you want to see them), but they have the huge advantage of being internationally agreed and easy to communicate. That’s particularly important in terms of aid, though less so when it comes to national development.

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