The stark choice on international development at this election

In the last five years international cooperation has stalled, and the world's poorest people are paying the price

International issues are never going to be the biggest vote winners. But as Labour’s manifesto makes clear, we cannot overlook the scale of the international challenge that awaits the next government.

We are facing some of the trickiest foreign policy issues of our time, from a resurgent Russia stoking conflict on the borders of Europe, to a wave of extremist violence across the Middle East. It is the most important year for international development in a decade, with major summits on the Sustainable Development Goals and how we finance them, and a long-awaited opportunity to reach a global agreement on climate change.

And whether it is UK nationals fighting in Syria, the number of migrants to the UK rising, or our weather patterns getting more unpredictable, it is clearer than ever that we cannot separate what happens abroad from our own future in Britain.

Yet in the last five years, international cooperation has stalled in some cases and been thrown into reverse in others. The poorest people in the world are paying the price and so is Britain.

In their manifesto, the Conservatives say they delivered on their commitment to enshrine on 0.7 per cent of GNI on aid, but this law only passed as a private members bill after they couldn’t be bothered to table it themselves, and did their best to wreck it at every stage of its passage through parliament. It was down to Labour MPs and Peers to ensure the bill was passed, with more Labour MPs voting for it then all the other parties combined.

The Conservatives promise further efforts to prevent climate change and help the poorest populations adapt. But the last five years have proven that their promise to be the ‘greenest government ever’ meant nothing. Carbon emissions have gone up, David Cameron only recently talked of ‘cutting the green crap’, and he doesn’t mention the climate at all in meetings with world leaders.

The Conservatives say they will push for new global goals to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. If this was really the case, Cameron would have shown up to the meetings of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Having landed the prestigious chair role, he gave the meetings a miss and instead focused his efforts at the UN on getting jobs for his mates.

And when the Conservatives declare in their manifesto that they’ll try and reshape OECD rules on what counts as aid to reflect the importance of ‘stability’ – how can we trust that this isn’t another attempt to divert aid towards military spending?

Labour is a party with internationalism in our DNA.  Between 1997 and 2010, the Labour government played a leading role in global foreign and defence policymaking and revolutionised the debate about international development. We created a world-leading development department, secured debt cancellation and prioritised human rights and climate change alongside economic growth.

If Labour gets back into power, Britain can be a progressive powerhouse once again.

When Labour says in our manifesto that we will push for an ambitious target in of net zero global emissions by the second half of this century, at the climate change summit in December, we mean it. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown worked tirelessly as chairs of the G8, G20 and Commission for Africa, as did Ed Miliband at the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.

When Labour says we will work with other countries at this year’s Sustainable Development Goals Summit to unite the world to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequality and climate change, we mean it.

And when Labour says we will promote human rights, increase efforts in fragile and conflict-affected states, and reshape the UN humanitarian system to save more lives, we mean it.

Labour’s vision of internationalism is one rooted in our values. We believe that policies at home and abroad should be about fair shares and reducing inequality. While the Conservatives threaten to leave the EU and further reduce our global influence, Labour believes fundamentally in the value of international cooperation and multilateralism, through the EU and our global institutions.

As Ed Miliband has said:

“More than ever Britain and the world need leadership on tackling poverty, inequality and climate change. This is about ensuring the next generation can do better than the last in this country and around the world.”

A vote for Labour at this election will be a crucial first step towards rebuilding Britain’s place at the heart of a more equal, more sustainable world.

Laura Kyrke-Smith is vice chair of the Labour Campaign for International Development

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8 Responses to “The stark choice on international development at this election”

  1. Mike Stallard

    Do you still believe in AGW? Honestly? After all the lies (hockey stick), the corruption (Patchy Pachauri), the falsification of scientific evidence (UEA) and the chicanery right from the start (carbon in the ice samples in Al Gore’s film). I do not see how you can. Mr Pachauri, for instance, was just a billionaire railwayman for heaven’s sake while he was groping all those women! How could he head up the IPCC?

    As to world poverty: a noble end indeed! But first of all you have to face up to the fact that a lot of the poor people (I was with three refugees last night who had come via Lampedusa) are running away from terrible war. They have literally nothing. Second there is massive corruption in certain parts of the world as you must know full well. Even the Policeman at the corner, even the gang at the end of the street is armed and corrupt. They all need paying every cent you have got. Third, you and I know that the aid is simply not getting through in the same quantities as it is being pumped in because where money abounds, so do the monkeys who handle it. Bob Geldof has more than proved his point, I think. The poor you have always with you.

    The trick is to be with them and, as far as possible, to be one of them.

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    Awww, does science hurt your head? None of your claims has been upheld, of course. And yea , Pachauri is too nice for you – but what does that have to do with the ICC, which isn’t a scientific body?

    And yes, Britain has a massive corruption problem in the City.
    Meanwhile, you WANT the poor to always be there, of course. There are solutions to that like a Basic Income, which even many right wingers are coming to support.

  3. SonOfTheIsles

    Still the left has no answer to the immigration problem.

    Just shout people down and let the chaos continue.

    Lifeboat Europe. Fill her up until she sinks!

    Everytime Africa sends a boat load here it breeds ten more boat loads back home.

    By letting uncontrolled numbers of uneducated Africans into Europe you lower the standard of living for all Europeans and you denude Africa of its most valuable resource, its youth.

    When will the left get off its arse and out-do the Chinese in Africa. Build infrastructure; roads, railways, hospitals and schools in Africa so that Africans don’t need to migrate.

    We need to build a European model in Africa because that is what Africans want. The left seems more intent on importing an African model into Europe. Don’t you just love those beheadings?

    Imagine if we swapped Europe for Africa. We all live there and Africans live in Europe. We’d appreciate the better weather. Within a decade there will be boat loads of Africans returning to Africa. The likes of Mugabe as PM of Britain will soon result with mass migration south.

    Eventually, population decline will occur throughout the world. There will never be an infinite population size to solve the tax and pension problem. Every boat loads needs more boat loads in the future to pay for them!

  4. Guest

    Keep calling the Other a problem, as you make up your hate, as you call indeed for genocide in Africa, clearly, as you make up your nonsense. You are then whining that you can’t exploit Africa quite like you used to, as you praise people like Brevik – guns are good, right?

    And you want policies not unlike Mugabe in many areas, as you call for killing people everywhere.

  5. SonOfTheIsles

    As usual, the left reads into anything they hate, which permits them to further their hate.

    Avoiding the problems of unsustainability and financial suicide.

    You want to have your cake and eat it.

    There will be civil war throughout Europe before 2020.

  6. Guest

    And you use your PC bigotry, lashing out against the “left”, and blaming your hate on someone, anyone else.

    Your austerity IS financial suicide, as can clearly be seen from the figures.

    Your far right are trying to cause civil wars. You are an enemy of this country.

  7. SonOfTheIsles

    By the way I read comments directly through Disqus, which prints your real name Wolfey. xxx

  8. Guest

    Right, and it shows you as Lord Blagger. Funny that.

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