19 April 2010

More on the UK election and International Development Policy

Disclosure: My prior judgement would be to vote Lib Dem as the most economically literate party which still has something of a social conscience. I have however committed to casting my vote for the candidate in my constituency with the best ideas on international development.

The ONE campaign has received responses from the 3 main parties (plus the Greens and Plaid Cymru) on their plans to fight extreme poverty.
The first thing I noticed is that Labour have by far the most to say. A quick word-count reveals:
Labour - 1684 words
Conservative - 668 words (excluding the repeated links to their policy paper)
Lib Dem - 745 words
Green - 342 words
Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalists) – 617 words
Labour’s statement is also full of numbers, which is always a good thing.
At first glance though, none of the platforms completely blows me away.
I am actually most impressed by Plaid Cmyru, who have interesting and provocative statements on migration
We recognise the invaluable contribution that migration has made to the UK, socially, culturally and economically over many years, and believe that this positive contribution will continue in future … We believe that we share a duty to uphold and defend people's right to seek asylum and we will work to ensure Wales’ proud tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted continues
and security
We believe that war is abhorrent and we condemn the Westminster government for dragging Wales into illegal wars. We believe that the European Union, through its High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, can and should play a greater role in conflict prevention and resolution, including joint peace keeping missions. We also call for effective European action on the international arms trade, including a new treaty and binding code of conduct restricting arms exports, as well as a complete ban on land mines, cluster bombs and white phosphorous.  The arms industry causes misery and death to millions of people throughout the world, not just by means of its destructive force but by diverting resources from socially beneficial activities such as food production, education and health.
Following them, Labour have the best overall response, with good ideas on accountability, trade and security.

Accountability - leadership of the International Aid Transparency Initiative,”to promote accountability and transparency through parliaments, audit mechanisms and civil society,” the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a Bribery Bill, and “funding to support developing countries to recover stolen assets.

Trade – “securing duty and quota free access to EU markets.

Security - “treat access to security and justice as a basic service.

The Conservatives have some interesting ideas on aid - “an independent aid watchdog”, “move towards results-based aid,” and “reduce, or even abolish, funding for UN and multilateral agencies that fail to deliver results, and give more to those who can prove that they are making a real difference.

And finally I like the Liberal Democrats’ statement that

We believe that bilateral aid should be targeted at the poorest people not necessarily the poorest countries,” and “security and justice should be seen as rights.”

Judging from these limited statements, Labour have the strongest overall platform, but if Plaid Cymru are serious about wanting more open immigration, then this eclipses all of the other policy proposals in terms of positive welfare impacts. Also note that I haven’t waded through the entire policy documents, but just gone on the responses posted by ONE.


Due to the UK’s bizarre electoral system, I don’t get to choose a government, only a local MP.

And so - I emailed all of my local candidates, asking for their views on international development policy.

The Greens and the English Democrats already responded here.

Hilary Myers (Lib Dem) has promised to respond (which I look forward to).

Greg Burrows (UKIP) wrote on his website:
my personal opinion is that the first thing we have to do his get our own house in order, as we are the most indebted nation out of the G8 and need to develop our own economy first and then and only then can we help others in the international community. David Campbell Bannerman is in charge of UKIP policy his office email in Europe is david.campbellbannerman@europarl.europa.eu his office should be able to give you a detailed account of international development policy. Regards
Craig Whittaker (Conservative) sent a 700 word extract from Conservative party policy which I will post separately (here). I have also asked for a follow-up on if and how his views differ at all from party policy.

Kate Sweeny (Green) also sent me this flyer:


The jury is still out, and I still hope to receive something from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

You can find your own candidates at yournextmp.com, and meanwhile keep an eye on Lawrence Haddad for “an international development comparison of the 3 manifestos.”

Finally – I’ll be voting by proxy – more info for Brits overseas  here (but hurry!)  HT: CK

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