Saturday, 5 April 2014

Shhh . . .0.7% aid target achieved.

"Whisper it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon" but the UK has finally reached the target of devoting  0.7% of our GDP to aid development in the poorest countries.

We originally signed up to this target, set by the OECD, in 1969.  At the time I joined a campaign, largely organised by the churches, to gather signatures for a petition to urge the government to meet the target  with the utmost dispatch.  In those pre-internet days gathering signatures was a bit of a slog but we worked together to try to achieve, I think, a  million.  This was only the second example in the UK of ecumenical co-operation in the post-war period: the first was an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the cinemas opening on Sundays.

In our area we proudly gathered in one of the local parish churches to present our bit of the petition to our MP, Sir Alfred Davies Devonshire  Broughton, (Labour), who commended us for our zeal  but told us not to be too idealistic because  he had personally seen the gold-plated bedstead of some African president..

Whereas the achievement of most government targets is trumpeted from the rooftops, publicity for this one is reduced to a report of a Tweet from Nick Clegg in  tiny column at the bottom of page 16 of yesterday's Guardian.  Such discretion is presumably  for fear of upsetting Tory backwoodsmen, many of whom are not so keen, and boosting the followership of Farage, who believes that the money would better be spent on sorting out our own floods.

The "gold plated bedstead" grumbles continue, with someone pointing out that some of the money is actually spent in this country, on "global citizenship lessons in Scottish school" and the government department responsible for administering the aid, DfID, has received an "amber warning" from its watchdog that there should be much more impartial analysis of the effectiveness of its projects. Neither of these criticisms  is quiet as disconcerting  as the  Thatcher government's spending the aid money on building an airstrip big enough for military aircraft in the Falklands  should the need arise, or on the construction of the uneconomic Pergau Dam in Malaysia in exchange for an arms deal..  We are moving on.

After 45 years of campaigning on this topic, I am pleased and proud that the UK finally joins that tiny band of countries. Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg, who form the élite G0.7 club.

And hats off to David Cameron for facing down his xenophobes and letting it happen.

1 comment:

  1. I've received the following by Email from two friends who have spent much of their lives campaigning and working for justice via Fair Trade and the World Development Movement.

    Great news Peter.

    To think after all those years it has finally come about, and in a time of austerity too. At last I think, thinking people are coming to realise that we are citizens of the world and not just English, Scottish (or whatever) and where there is injustice hunger and oppression, we should all do our bit to try and put things right.

    As for Farage and all such narrow minded fascists (and make no mistake about it this is what they are), they promote going back to petty nationalistic squabbles and beating the shit out of one another every other generation. Like Farage there are not many left in this country who lived though the last war, and don't have knowledge of that terrible time in our history. Farage is a man who can talk and get people to follow his prejudiced way of thinking --- and so was Hitler. He is a dangerous man, and wants watching

    Keep going Peter, you're doing a great job.

    Regards Ron & Maureen H