Category Archives: Foreign Aid

A Sunday reflection on the week’s politics

I thought, for a change, that Sunday might be quite a good opportunity to sit down and reflect on the week’s politics, in a slightly different format. Whether I make this sort of post a weekly deal (I may well choose to do so) or not, I’m not absolutely sure as of yet. The post will not necessarily be in an order of any real importance but will include segments of news that have interested me over the last few days.

Project Fear hits the Premier League

There aren’t many things the ‘remain’ camp won’t say or distort in order to secure an EU stay after June 23rd. They know that football (and specifically the Premier League) is at the very core of British culture, and scaremongering over the importing of foreign players will no doubt present a great way of striking fear into what seems to me to be a heavily undecided electorate.

Not only did BSE (Britain Stronger in Europe) make the claim that various players would no longer be allowed to take part in English football, they also took the time to compile a list of players at each major Premier League club that, allegedly, would not have been able to move to the country without EU membership. I knew that our resident europhiles were unambitious and misguided, but I never had them down as clairvoyants.

Apparently those at ‘Stronger In’ don’t spend too much of their time following football (or logic, for that matter). Work permits are a common fixture inside the Premier League, allowing players to be transferred across continents with very little trouble at all. Problems seldom occur, and many talented players from outside the European Union have enjoyed great success in the UK.

Sol Campbell understands this simple concept. Why don’t Britain’s EU fanatics?

Another ‘Leave’ campaign enters the fray

How many unique campaigns now have their sights set on Britain’s departure from the European Union? With Grassroots Out, Vote Leave and Leave.EU currently the caretaker triumvirate in active competition for the mantle of official designated leave group, the phrase ‘too many cooks’ comes to mind.

In hindsight, this referendum’s ‘leave’ campaigners haven’t organised themselves particularly well. One campaign was enough to present the arguments for an exit, and so Friday’s news that a new Left-wing competitor, ‘The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition’, has thrown its name into the hat didn’t exactly fill me with joy.

I’ve sought to avoid baseless tribalism in recent months; opting for membership of both ‘GO’ and ‘Vote Leave’ in an attempt to meet more people and be as active as I possibly could be. I don’t have a dislike for any of the campaigns per se, but a more unified approach to the summer showdown could well have been preferable.

I am happy that the Left have representation as we march towards the end of June, as a European Union exit isn’t just about those of us on the Right, but I do feel that such a late inclusion will only splay and ignite more tension.

People can represent any campaign that they so wish, but the bickering and political point scoring must come to end; if not for the sake of those involved, then for the sake of our EU membership.

Is this a ‘Ta ta’ to British steel?

How sad it is to see a magnificent beacon of British industrialisation beaten to its very knees by incompetent politicians, dumping and malicious energy costs. I feel for workers at Port Talbot, and would very much like the government to save our steel industry (one of the few bright spots across the UK’s manufacturing landscape).

I’ve been sceptical over the weekend as to whether renationalisation was the way to go to combat the issues our steel faces, but if no other option presents itself, then renationalise we should. Since state aid ‘in principle’ is not generally permitted across the European Union, government intervention will likely be tricky to coordinate.

If Sajid Javid fails to salvage what is left of our steel industry, he may as well say a brisk goodbye to his integrity and any future cabinet positions. He has a tough job ahead of him, but so long as thousands of innocent, hard-working steel workers are not dumped onto the welfare system, he’ll get a pass from me.

As the signs read only a couple of days ago, we bailed out the banks, now it’s time we bailed out our steel.

Praise for the Mail on Sunday

Pleased I most certainly was this morning to read about the Mail on Sunday’s belated (but nevertheless necessary) campaign targeted at the government concerning the extortionate amount of money that Britain gives away in foreign aid.

The feature, based on Friday’s leaked report which revealed that over £170m had been spent over the allotted £12bn budget, encouraged readers to sign an e-petition which calls for the government to re-think the policy and consider putting some of the money to better use.

I’m not myself a fan of a foreign aid ‘budget’ as such. Instead, I believe that the UK should play its part in providing moral, humanitarian aid where possible on a sporadic and prioritised basis. By introducing a parameter in the form of a budget, some international disasters may not receive proportionate or adequate funding, and as has been shown over the last few days, over-spending is also inevitable.

Despite the Tory party’s target of setting aside 0.7% of our GDP for the purposes of global aid being a generous and fairly popular one, charity does often start at home, and over-spending should not be tolerated whilst Britain is gripped by intense industrial woes.

There is a fashionable line that argues that taking from the foreign aid budget is no way to cure domestic ills as it will only incur more suffering abroad. In some cases, this may well be true, but those fronting such an argument may like to consider that there is a huge wealth of difference between helping and appearing to help.

Much of the foreign aid budget is wasted on projects which do not provide direct relief to the intended recipients, and many governments shell out over-generously as a way of point scoring with ethnic minorities at home, or in a bid to bribe or sway certain international governments.

Britain spent £12.2 billion in foreign aid in 2015, and kind-hearted thought it may well seem, I think a far more moral approach would be to target crises individually and divert accidental over-spending towards problems happening at home.

2016 is the year that the UK’s steel industry urgently needs help, so let us hope that George Osborne does the right thing.

 


Don’t tell me we aren’t doing anything: The UK IS helping refugees, and always has done

When shocking pictures of a drowned Syrian child emerged earlier on this week, almost an entire nation erupted with crazed, passionate fury.

Like most others, I reacted with sadness and a sense of realisation over what appeared to me to be a simply awful humanitarian crisis. Why, though, it took the front page of the Independent newspaper (a paper that has been accused in the past of derogatory castigation of migrants) for such outrage to assemble I do not know.

Much has been made over the last 72 hours about Britain’s responsibility and action to help resolve this hugely complex – and certainly global – issue. Hundreds have taken to social media to vent their intentions to help, with hashtags like ‘refugees welcome’ making waves all over the internet. I think this outcry illustrates a couple of things.

Firstly, it shows that there does remain a core sense of solidarity and compassion on the part of the British public, and firmly enshrines our intolerance towards the cruel actions opposing innocent people across the Middle East. Secondly, the frenzy allows for some rigorous testing of the European Union’s asylum policy, and gives the public a chance to see for itself just how effective and responsive the EU is. This really is a huge test for Merkel and her gang.

It goes without saying, that the United Kingdom has a proud and satisfactory record when it comes to dealing with asylum, the world over. According to the Red Cross, (you can view the relevant statistics here) the UK helped around 15,000 refugees in 2014 alone, which accounts for more than 17 other EU member states put together. Refugees are not migrants, after all, and British residents can take solace in the fact that we have more than done our part in rectifying our past errors in foreign policy to look after those worst affected.

Prior to the first World War, the UK accepted a total of 120,000 Jewish refugees from Russia over a period of five years, and a wave of 30,000 Ugandan Asians in the 1970s. Our determination and duty to aid those in absolute need over the years is clear for all to see, and I think such an outcry over this crisis needs to be toned down a little. We are doing all we can, and after all, governments should govern with their heads as well as their hearts.

Putting the Syrian crisis of the summer of 2015 into perspective for a moment, it is important to point out that David Cameron’s government have already subsidised £1bn in aid for Syrian asylum seekers. This money has gone towards establishing settlement camps and transport for those in most need, and has also helped to provide food and clothing for the needy. France, on the other hand, have contributed a mere £70m towards the endeavour and – perhaps even more shockingly – richer Arab states have refused to offer help at all.

The United Kingdom currently plays host to around 126,000 refugees – a figure that represents around 0.2% of the global refugee population – and granted asylum to almost 50% of applications in the last twelve months. This week, the chancellor George Osbourne stated that Britain’s foreign aid budget – currently running at around £10bn per annum – will be diverted in order to ensure that Syrian refugees are aided in any way possible, and I think it smart that the country’s foreign aid budget be the responsible source of finance for such an operation.

Syria is in ruins and European governments are attempting to do all that they can to help. And – surprised as I am to write this – I think the British public should lay off David Cameron and take comfort in knowing that the United Kingdom’s willingness to assist during periods of humanitarian hardship remains firm.

As a country, we’ve always maintained a strong obligation to help those in need, and it’s about time our own people realised that.