Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Andrew Mitchell, Shadow International Development Secretary, gave a talk last night about his work. To his mind, there are three parts to his portfolio: international trade, aid and conflict resolution.
He believes tariffs and subsidies should be abolished and that there should be a free market in trade. This has done much to alleviate poverty in India and he thinks it would do wonders in Africa. There are more poor people in India than in the whole continent of Africa but India is now deemed to be "a middle income" country. He also thinks that microfinance is beneficial: it has helped 7m families in Bangladesh and is being put to good use in Afghanistan.
Aid has been useful for eliminating disease. He thinks that an Aid Evaluation Agency could be set up to assess its impact, particularly if a UK economic slowdown causes people to question the International Development budget in the future.
Conflict resolution is to his mind the most important element because if a country is embroiled in a war, trade and aid will make little difference to the quality of life.
He talked about a "moral case" for conflict resolution and debt forgiveness but I was wondering if there was in fact a moral case for the UK Government spending taxpayers' money overseas. Why not simply give tax incentives for individuals to support the charities they choose, and companies incentives to invest in developing countries? A Government has a 5 year time horizon but a charity or company can take a longer-term view regarding projects.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm.. but all this may be whistling in the wind until the CAP is reformed.

Although the downside with that is even more 'small' farmers will be pushed to the wall, so that 'agribusiness' can take over. Check out Iain Dale's site today.

Of course, having mainly Tory voting 'small business' farmers going to the wall is not likely to give Tony and his cronies to many sleepless nights.

To be honest with you Winchester, I would quite happily have Tony Benn in favour of this lame 'half-way house' politics that seems to pander only to the Tesco-style mega-corporations and the needs of US Investment Banks.

12:29 pm  

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