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In defence of development aid

S4P aid Apr17 2

Tom Brake and Graham Gordon speak in support of development aid

Reporting by Mike McLoughlin.

At a well-attended meeting hosted by Sutton for Peace and Justice at Friends Meeting House in Sutton on 28th April, Graham Gordon and Tom Brake spoke on why International aid is good for both the recipients and for us.

Both have extensive experience in the subject, Graham Gordon as Head of Public Policy at CAFOD, a leading aid agency, and Tom Brake as present and past Lib-Dem spokesperson on international development.

Tom Brake said that over the last 18 months or so there had been a concerted effort by some of the press to talk down the benefits and exaggerate the failings of aid. One success of this campaign had been the appointment of Priti Patel, an opponent of aid in general to head up The Department for International Development (Dfid) which she once said should be abolished. She has said we will promote transparency but by shifting DFID money into Prosperity, Security and Empowerment funds its use will become less transparent. The “Prosperity” fund will provide cash for private businesses, the “Security” fund probably be used by the Ministry of Defence, the most non-transparent and unaccountable ministry and the “Empowerment “ fund is for the Baltic States who are not high on anyone’s list of the world’s poorest countries. With all these moves the provision of aid will become more political and less able to fulfil its purpose to eradicate poverty in the world.

Tom Brake concluded by saying we should lobby our political parties and their election candidates telling them how much we value aid and encourage its focus on eradicating poverty.

Graham Gordon agreed with Tom Brake in that the quality of our aid was in danger from the skewing of the debate possibly leading to the reduction of our involvement to only disease eradication and responding to natural disasters. DFID was recognised as a world leader in humanitarian aid but also in development aid in areas such as the alleviation of the impact of climate change, improvement of the position of women and girls, and strengthening of civic society for long term development. He quoted several typical schemes in countries as far apart as Zambia and Myanmar whose success was apparently unknown to the aid deniers. These included provision of water boreholes which then enabled girls to attend school because they no longer needed to spend their days fetching water from great distances, providing training in cyclone preparedness so that communities were able to quickly recover from the next cyclone caused by climate change and schemes to strengthen civic society and governance enabling more transparency and so enabling governments to improve their tax take and therefore provide service to their communities.

Graham also mentioned the Commonwealth Development Company, now know as simply CDC, a part privatised arm of DFID. There was little evidence of it being successful at generating jobs by providing capital and loans to private companies. However Ms Patel planned to give it much greater funds. In fact private enterprise is not very good at working with civic society or focussing on the poor, the two most important areas if we really want to eradicate poverty.

Both speakers concluded that we should be proud of our contribution to reducing poverty across the world and being one of the first in the rich world to commit to 0.7% of GDP. Many millions of people have benefited from our generosity and many millions more rely on our continuation of this generosity.


Aid works – public meeting in Sutton 28 April

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a public meeting :

Aid works –

why we should maintain the foreign aid budget

With Graham Gordon of CAFOD  and Tom Brake MP

Friday April 28th 2017, 7.30–9.00pm, doors open at 7.00.
at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

There is no advance entry charge, donations will be taken on the night.
Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or by text message to 07740 594496.

Come and learn more about foreign aid spending and join the discussion.

Our informed speakers will provide evidence that foreign aid is a good thing with examples of how aid money can have a real impact on people’s lives, and will equip us with the arguments to dispel the myths and protect the 0.7% GDP currently spent on foreign aid.

Graham Gordon heads CAFOD’s Public Policy team dealing with international development, finance and environmental issues in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Graham worked for six years in Peru protecting the rights of indigenous groups and local communities, particularly around land, natural resources and political participation.

Tom Brake is MP for Carshalton & Wallington. Having been actively engaged in International Development issues for at least the last ten years, Tom is currently the Lib Dem Foreign Affairs, International Development and Defence Spokesperson.

You can download a flyer here.

Celebrating seed diversity and sovereignty

On 26 September Sutton for Peace and Justice is screening the film ‘Cotton for my shroud’ to highlight the issue of ‘seed sovereignty’ and the plight of farmers when big corporations take control over the seeds on which they depend.

On a similar theme, on 11 to 12 October, The Great Seed Festival will bring together farmers, growers, environmentalists, chefs, activists, gardeners, allotmenteers, artists, musicians and everybody in-between to celebrate the magic of seed, bring to light the importance of seed diversity and rekindle the connection between seed and food.

And for a related story about seed sovereignty and farmers in Africa, see this World Development Movement article.


Injustice and economics

On 30 May 2014 Sutton for Peace and Justice hosted a public meeting ‘Our economy was destroyed and the poor were blamed’, which examined the myths that allow inequality to persist and how we might do to move to a more equal and happier society.

S4P&J member Mike McLoughlin started the meeting with a plain talking presentation to set the scene and prompt discussion. The first part of his talk was based on ideas contained in Daniel Dorling’s 2010 book, ‘Injustice, Why Social Inequality Still Persists’, and expanded on the five myths: elitism is efficient, greed is good, leading on to exclusion is necessary and prejudice is natural; which all taken together result in despair being inevitable for the growing number of deprived people.

In the second part, Mike discussed the economic ideas the Government follows and why they are wrong, focussing on the financial deregulation that led to the economic crash, and the dominance of the ideas propounded by the neo-classical economists.

The attached paper sets out in more detail what he said.  Please download, read and share.


Sutton for Peace and Justice presents THE UK GOLD

UK Gold

Winner of Best Documentary at the East End Film Festival 2013

‘The UK Gold’ lifts the lid on tax dodging and UK tax havens.

Developing countries lose three times as much to tax havens as they receive in aid every year – money that could be spent on vital services like health and education.

The UK Gold is a new documentary written and directed by Mark Donne that expertly dissects the way in which vast sums of money are funnelled away from the people who need them and gets to the heart of how multinationals are getting away with dodging billions in taxes.  Featuring interviews with Channel 4’s Jon Snow, Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network, Richard Brooks who first broke the story in Private Eye, ActionAid’s Chris Jordan and Pamela Chisanga from Zambia. With a stunning soundtrack by Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack) and Guy Garvey (Elbow).

“The kind of film to get the blood boiling and steam hissing out of your ears.” the Guardian.
“A shining piece of film making on the darkness at the heart of the City.” The Mirror.

Brought to you in association with ActionAid, Oxfam and ChristianAid.

If you only see one film over the next couple of months make sure it’s this one.

To be screened on Friday 7 March 2014, at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.
Doors open 6.30pm, film starts at 7.00.

To reserve your seat email Sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or text 07740 594496. No entry charge. Donations will be taken.



48 Hours to G8

The G8 summit meets in Northern Ireland on Monday. So the next 48 hours are crucial if we are to get world leaders to take real action to end world hunger.

The IF campaign is urging supporters to make sure David Cameron goes to the summit with the demand for action  ‘ringing in his ears’.

For more information, click here.

Government fails to implement aid promises

It was very disappointing to see that the Queen’s Speech to Parliament on 8 May did not include legislation enshrining in law the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international development assistance.

This fails to fulfil commitments made in the Coalition Agreement and by both parties in government prior to the last election.

The Coalition Agreement states: “We will honour our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid from 2013, and to enshrine this commitment in law.”

The Conservative Manifesto said: “A new Conservative government will be fully committed to achieving, by 2013, the UN target of spending 0.7% of national income as aid. We will stick to the rules laid down by the OECD about what spending counts as aid. We will legislate in the first session of a new Parliament to lock in this level of spending for every year from 2013.”

We welcome the fact that the UK is the first developed country to meet the target of 0.7 gross national income for aid, and recognise that the present Government has shown leadership to other countries who have made less progress to honour their commitments to reach this goal.

However, we still hope that we will see legislation to secure the 0.7% aid commitment. Both parties in government have promised this and many of their MPs have made much of their support for the IF campaign that has the 0.7% as one of its key aims. And making development support more predictable and reliable in this way would make aid more effective.