31 August 2010

The DFID plot thickens….

A couple of weeks ago I criticised the Guardian for over-hyping some re-thinking of old commitments by the new DFID Minister. The writer either misunderstood what was going on, or was just pushing a partisan anti-tory line. Which is disappointing if it means that the paper which is supposed to represent British progressive internationalist opinion is letting party politics come before analysis, and misses the actually important question of where the detailed alternative proposals are.

Well on Sunday we got a bit more information on the direction we are headed in:

The government is to introduce a wholesale change to Britain's overseas aid budget by demanding that projects in the developing world must make the "maximum possible contribution" to British national security, according to a leaked Whitehall paper.

This is a terrible terrible idea. The last time there was a new Conservative government it abolished DFID altogether and moved it back into the foreign office. This time they promised not to do that because it might look nasty, but this move has the potential to have much the same effect.

And this is all the more depressing when we have a supposedly progressive and internationalist party in the coalition.

Given Vince Cable’s bold and admirable public defence of open immigration,

"It's no great secret that in my department and me personally, we want to see an open economy, and as liberal an immigration policy as it's possible to have."

it is pretty disappointing that the Lib Dems have shown no interest in defending DFID.

2 comments:

Robert Tulip said...

Hello RB. The development-security nexus is a question that deserves dispassionate analysis. Friendly and prosperous countries enhance everybody's security. If aid can target how to make countries more friendly and prosperous, it will benefit Britain's national security. A problem here is that prosperity is best enhanced by supporting success, whereas much current aid is oriented to supporting failure. Private sector market-oriented development strategies produce more resilient and sustainable outcomes than many current approaches. An undue focus on the very poor creates aid dependency and has weak value for money, based more on charitable sentiment than on evidence of what works. If linking development to security leads to better analysis of the economic rate of return of aid expenditure it will be a good thing.

Roving Bandit said...

The implication of ensuring that aid has the "maximum possible" impact upon British security might be sending it all to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tough luck Congo, you're not dangerous enough (to us).

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