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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.

See ‘This Is A Coup’ in Sutton on 24 November

Sutton for Peace and Justice is screening of  ‘This Is A Coup’ – a documentary film telling the story of Greece’s 2015 confrontation with the European Union.

coup-greek-flag

  • Thursday November 24th
  • 7.30–9.00pm doors open at 7.00
  • at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

January 2015. A radical left party called Syriza wins the Greek elections. With over 50% youth unemployment, unimaginable public debt and the people struggling under crippling austerity measures, Syriza and its charismatic leader, Alexis Tsipras, is handed a clear mandate for change.

In this four-part unravelling of events, Theopi Skarlatos and Paul Mason look at how Syriza won, what they did, how they clashed with the global financial system and how it all ended. Fully exploiting their unprecedented access to politicians and venturing behind the doors where decisions were made, they chronicle a ‘war’ that highlights the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU.

Underpinning all this political posturing is also a strong vein of hope – as Skarlatos said:  “The people always felt they were stronger than the politicians who eventually didn’t live up to the promises they made back in January.”

Produced and narrated by journalist Paul Mason, with extraordinary access to key

Directed by Theopi Skarlatos, edited by Andreas Loukakos. Released by Field of Vision.

The extraordinary resilience of the Greek people – in retreat but not defeated.

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.

Remembrance not celebration

Today, the 11 November, we seem to need a reminder of why we mark 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, and how the focus has shifted from Armistice Day to ‘Remembrance Sunday’.

The original spirit of marking Armistice Day was to remember those who had given their lives and to pledge to prevent such loss of life happening again – in remembrance, not ‘celebration’.

How many times have we heard veterans of both world wars saying that they do not want to be described as heroes, and rather that we should remember those who died when they survived.

The way this annual call for peace has been hijacked and transformed into a glorification of militarism is a disservice to those who deserve to respected and remembered.

It is well worth reading this report by Joe Glenton, written after Remembrance Day last year, that expresses this better than  I can.

Joe Glenton was a British soldier for six years, serving in Afghanistan, whose book Soldier Box was published in 2013. Follow him on Twitter at: @joejglenton

Posted by Mike Cooper.

Film ‘This Is A Coup’ – 24 November

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a screening of  ‘This Is A Coup’. A documentary film telling the story of Greece’s 2015 confrontation with the European Union.  Presented by journalist Paul Mason, with extraordinary access to key politicians.

coup-greek-flag

  • Thursday November 24th
  • 7.30–9.00pm doors open at 7.00
  • at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

January 2015. A radical left party called Syriza wins the Greek elections. With over 50% youth unemployment, unimaginable public debt and the people struggling under crippling austerity measures, Syriza and its charismatic leader, Alexis Tsipras, is handed a clear mandate for change.

In this four-part unravelling of events, Theopi Skarlatos and Paul Mason look at how Syriza won, what they did, how they clashed with the global financial system and how it all ended. Fully exploiting their unprecedented access to politicians and venturing behind the doors where decisions were made, they chronicle a ‘war’ that highlights the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU.

Underpinning all this political posturing is also a strong vein of hope – as Skarlatos said:  “The people always felt they were stronger than the politicians who eventually didn’t live up to the promises they made back in January.”

Directed by Theopi Skarlatos, edited by Andreas Loukakos.
Produced and narrated by Paul Mason. Released by Field of Vision.

The extraordinary resilience of the Greek people – in retreat but not defeated.
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.

The Colloquium in Carshalton Park

Throughout the day of the Environmental Fair, Sutton for Peace and Justice will be hosting a series of informal and open discussions on a range of peace and justice issues at the Sutton for Peace and Justice stall, M12 & M13:

11.00    The challenge of Climate Change: Action on climate change is essential for peace and justice across the world.

12.00      Equality – best for all: How a more equal society would be beneficial to rich and poor alike.

13.00     Sutton for Sanctuary: Campaigning to make Sutton a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants.

14.00     The plight of the Palestinians: Living with occupation, illegal settlements and house demolitions.

15.00     Equality – best for all: How a more equal society would be beneficial to rich and poor alike.

16.00     Sutton for Sanctuary: Campaigning to make Sutton a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants.

Please come along and find out more, have your say and join the debate.

Colloquium – an informal gathering for the exchange of views, from the latin ‘to talk together’;  a seminar usually led by a different academic or expert speaker at each meeting.

My Nazi Legacy film screening 24 June

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a screening of  ‘My Nazi Legacy – What our fathers did’ in Sutton on 24 June.

A disturbing and thought-provoking documentary film. Eminent human rights lawyer Philippe Sands accompanies the sons of two Nazi war criminals as they travel through Europe to confront the past sins of their fathers.

MyNaziLegacy image

Sands interviews Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter, the sons of Hans Frank and Otto Wächter, respectively (among their other grim distinctions) the Nazi governor of occupied Poland and Nazi governor of Galicia in Ukraine. Whilst one has come to terms with what his father did, the other is still in denial.

Every member of Philippe Sands’ family living in an area of Ukraine were slaughtered in 1941  when it was under the control of two Nazi officials.

And this is not just of historical interest – these are live issues. The film visits Nazi-nostalgists and paramilitaries in Ukraine who hail Horst von Wächter as the son of a hero .

As Phillipe Sands says: ‘Their fathers may be long dead, but the underlying issues that gave rise to these horrors in the first place are all still there’.

  • ‘Outstanding documentary about history and guilt’. The Guardian.
  • ‘A welcome attempt to confront the Nazi era with a steady eye.’  The Telegraph.

Friday June 24th, 7.30pm, doors open at 7.00.

At Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

There is no 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.