International Aid: Waste of Taxpayers’ Money or essential to Britain’s national interests?

Fair is Worth Fighting ForWhipped up by right wing media propaganda, public sentiment is turning against overseas aid.  In a recent public opinion survey 70% of respondents thought that aid was a waste of taxpayers’ money and should be spent at home. Inevitably in times of financial hardship people take the simplistic view that ‘charity begins at home.’

Aid has often been conceived in a paternalistic and economically colonialist fashion. Instead of serving the needs of the poor in poor countries, it continues to be used by donors as a means of furthering political, economic or military objectives, including the promotion of business interests.  The preponderance of donors, each with its own agenda, has also tended to reduce coordination and transparency, increasing the politicisation of aid, heightening the risk of corruption and placing a significant management burden on aid-recipient countries. Genuine participation of local people, let alone local control or oversight of aid expenditures, rarely occurs in practice, despite donor rhetoric. Similarly, while ‘sustainability’ has become a buzzword within the aid system, it is generally framed in terms of ‘sustainable economic growth’; defining poverty in terms of income alone and failing completely to prioritise equity and environmental quality, or to address ecological limits in the design and implementation of aid programmes.

East Midland Hunger Summit 2013

On the 7th June as a prelude to David Cameron’s Hunger Summit at Downing Street, an East Midland Hunger Summit 2013 has been arranged.  The venue will be Derby Cathedral 18-19 Iron Gate, Derby, DE1 3PG

The Summit will feature contributions from:

  • The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, former Secretary of State for International Development
  • The Rt Rev’d Dr Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby,
  • The Rt Hn Pauline Latham OBE MP,
  • Jahangir Malin OBE, the UK Director of Islamic Relief
  • Fiona Twycross, the “Hunger Tsar” to the London Mayor
  • The IF Campaign
  • Christian Aid
  • Fare Share UK

The event will also host the launch of “Fare Share Derby and Derbyshire” supporting the County’s many food banks with a new multi-million tonne supply chain. 

The programme begins at 3.00 pm for 3.30 pm.  5.30 pm Summit reception.  6.00 pm Evening lecture and discussion with the Re Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, hosted by Mrs Pauline Latham OBE MP.

Participants are welcome to come for some or all of the time.  The event is FREE but you are asked to visit to book and for further information.  You can also use twitter:  #HS2013

The Green Party’s aim is to secure, in the long term, greater economic independence of poor countries so that an aid system need only respond to emergencies.  You can find Green Party Policies on Aid at



The Green Party has spoken out strongly against the so-called “welfare reform” proposals being pushed through Parliament. A particularly pernicious proposal is the “Benefit Cap” which will leave families homeless or starving.

The proposal is that families which do not include anyone in work will have total “Welfare Benefit”, including Housing Benefit, capped at £500 pw, leaving unemployed families renting from private landlords, particularly in and around London, unable to feed and clothe their children whilst keeping a roof over their heads. In Central London Housing Benefit is currently limited to £400pw for families needing four bedroom accommodation and £340pw for three.

Elsewhere in London and the South East the limit is only slightly lower. It is almost unbelievable that the cap makes no allowance for the fact that rents in some parts of the country are two or three times as high as in others.

Even this Government believes that a lone parent family with three children needs a minimum of £273pw to meet essential living expenses after housing costs, and one with four needs £335. The Benefit Cap will leave the three children family living in private rented accommodation in Central London with only £160pw to live on. A four child family will have just £100 !

In reality the amount left over after rent is paid is likely to be even less, since rents for most homes in the private sector are higher than the current Housing Benefit limits, and the poor are already having to make up the difference by cutting back on essential living expenses.

The Government says it has decided on a £500 pw cap because this is the average net wage earned by families in work. Whilst not disagreeing that there should be some financial benefit from paid employment, the current Benefit rules already provide this, and many working families already receive large amounts of Housing Benefit in London, given the high rents in the private sector and the chronic shortage of social housing.

The proposal is outrageous. The real problem is a lack of sufficient decently paid jobs and affordable housing, in one of the most unequal societies in Europe. Unemployed families will be forced out of London in particular, perhaps into depressed seaside towns, where they may find housing but probably no jobs. Many may end up working back in London, in one of the

many essential low paid service jobs on which London depends. Maybe they will leave their children behind, and become migrant workers, like workers in China, with whom British business tells us we must compete!

There are plenty more planned too, including cuts to disability benefits and a freeze to child benefits. And the only thing Tory MPs are complaining about is the decision to stop Child Benefit payments to higher rate income tax payers!

Labour are all but silent on the issue of welfare “reform”, anxious to chase swing voters in marginal seats. Worried that many such voters are persuaded that the people to blame for their own increasing economic hardship/insecurities are those even worse off than themselves , rather than the super-rich ( greedy, dishonest and incompetent bankers in particular) and the capitalist system itself.

The Green Party must continue to say loudly and clearly that the poorest and most disadvantaged shouldn’t be the ones paying the highest price for a crisis which they did not cause.  Benefit claimants and migrant workers should not be scapegoated. Most benefit claimants are already in work, have recently been in work, are retired from work, will soon hope to return to work or are too ill to do so.

As for migrant workers…. please read this article published in The Guardian

Greens Campaign For A Fairer Derbyshire Dales

Josh Stockell, the Green Party’s general election candidate for Derbyshire Dales, joined fellow party members in Bakewell on Saturday to finalise their campaign in Derbyshire. The meeting heard Josh underline the party’s commitment to a fairer and sustainable society.

“Under this government the gap between the top earners and the average has widened. Top financiers are walking away with million pound bonuses while workers in public services face swingeing cuts. This is not our idea of fairness.”

Handing out leaflets in Bakewell with his team before the meeting, Josh said: “

I am encouraged by the response we are getting. Most of the people I have spoken to are aware of the Green Party and many are pleased to learn that we are standing in Derbyshire Dales – for the first time.”

In his leaflet, Josh, a town councillor in Wirksworth, calls for change to a fair and sustainable economic system and a stop to the ‘growth at all costs’ policies favoured by the other parties. No other party offers a ‘Green New Deal’ with a million new jobs.

Other issues that Josh highlights in his campaign are: an end to MPs’ greed; more affordable homes; local food and proper vetting of imports to support our farmers; better public transport; more renewable energy; no more privatising of the NHS; welfare not warfare.

Press Release on behalf of Peter Allen, Green Party Candidate, High Peak

It is well known that the Green Party cares for the environment. What is less well known is our full range of policies covering social policy, the economy and global issues. High Peak Green Party Candidate Peter Allen and his team will be out on the streets during the next few weeks telling voters about these other Green Party policies.

“We don’t just want to save the planet, we want to make life so much better for people living on it” says Peter.

The Green Party has a fully-costed programme to transform Britain into a self-reliant, fair and sustainable country that contributes to making a fairer world. Among its policy commitments are:

  • A massive investment programme in public transport, renewable energy and social care, creating a million jobs in a Green New Deal
  • Expanding and defending the NHS and stopping further privatisation.
  • More money to fight world poverty, and to help poor countries combat climate change.
  • Bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and cancelling Trident.
  • Fairer taxes based on the ability to pay, and a clamp down on tax avoidance. Require banks to reinvest in sustainable projects.

The problems we face are enormous, and climate change threatens our very survival. The business-as-usual policies, offered by the other parties, will fail again. Now is a time of opportunity for us to work together to develop the answers to problems that affect us and our children.

“The obsession with economic growth at any cost must be replaced by sustainable development, and a fair distribution of the world’s resources” says Peter.

Green Party members will be leafleting in Glossop on Saturday morning (6th) in New Mills (13th), Chapel (20th) and Buxton (27th).