You can find my full post for the new LabourList site here. This is an extract:
"It is tempting to think that in times of recession Labour’s commitment to international development should be downplayed. Focus is rightly on securing domestic jobs, ensuring people stay in their homes and providing help to small businesses and the financial sector.
However, it would be a mistake to begin ignoring Africa after the huge strides Labour have made in the past 12 years. It would be similarly injudicious to accept that international development is now a cosy bi-partisan issue. All evidence suggests that Conservative governments have been less kind to the cause. Major’s administration is infamous for the Pergau Dam scandal, in which aid was promised to Malaysia in return for an arms contract. Overall the Thatcher-Major years saw a fall in official development assistance from 0.5% of GNI in 1979 to 0.26% in 1997. 1979 also marked the abolition of the Ministry for Overseas Development, with the portfolio subsumed into the Foreign Office. The message was clear: foreign aid will be used to further British interests and not those of the bottom billion..."