Tory proclaims ‘international aid changes nothing’ despite evidence in front of nose

Katie Stanton reports on a Save the Children discussion on international development and overseas aid.

E-mail-sign-up Donate



Tory Backbencher Philip Davies doesn’t like aid. He doesn’t like it when it’s given to countries he thinks are too rich, like India, or, it appears, when they are too poor, like many African states.

Philip-Davies-MPAt a panel discussion hosted by Save the Children, sitting alongside speakers Lord Ashdown, Baroness Kinnock and  ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie, Davies said:

“According to the OECD, the UK has given $75bn in international aid since 1960, but how has Africa improved? I haven’t seen any radical change in this time.”

Audience members were left baffled by the Shipley MP’s comments, after information given to panellists and everyone else in the room outlined evidence supporting the difference aid does indeed make.


See also:

The cruelty of Philip Davies 17 Jun 2011

Davies’s remarks are a much needed wake-up call; discrimination is alive and well 17 Jun 2011

Tory MP Philip Davies: Disabled should work for less than minimum wage 17 Jun 2011


Recent UN-sponsored research, ‘Progress in child well-being: building on what works’, reveals:

12,000 fewer children under five die every day than in 1990;

• From 1999 to 2009 an additional 56 million children enrolled in primary school and the number of out-of-school primary-age children decreased by 38 million;

• 131 countries now have over 90% immunisation coverage for diphtheria, tetanus and major preventable childhood diseases such as measles, compared to just 63 countries in 1990.

As Figure 2 shows, findings from the UN Inter-Agency Group on Child Mortality Estimation (UNIAGCME) show a significant drop in under-five mortality rate since 1990.

Figure 2:

Figure 2: Under-five mortality rate by MDG region, 1990-2010; click to enlarge
A parliamentary briefing on aid makes its impact clear:

There is plenty of evidence that international aid, including UK aid, is making a huge difference…

Saving lives – In the financial year 2009/10, UK aid ensured that 15 million people had enough food to eat and provided over 1.5million people with clean water (see the Small Change Big Difference report);

Creating the conditions for economic growth – In the financial year 2009/10 the UK’s aid helped to build or upgrade 1,500km of roads (see the Aid Works report);

Securing peace and strengthening good governance – the UK’s extensive security and development assistance to Sierra Leone over the last decade has helped to end its civil war, stabilise and rebuild the country and helped the country’s economy to grow by 5% in each of the last two years (see DFID Annual Report 2011 Vol 1).

Philip Davies’s views on international aid are no secret – but are unfounded accusations really the way to get people on your side?


Sign-up to our weekly email • Donate to Left Foot Forward

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.