International Development at #lab11

Jessica Toale – Education and Communications Manager

Labour Party Conference opened this weekend in the Historic Dockyards of Liverpool. Amongst the main topics of concern – cuts, the economy, Ed Milliband’s flies, Ed Balls’s “squeezed middle” – international development featured highly with regard to debate on the UK’s strategic role in the world.

Speaking at the Save the Children reception Harriet Harman, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, reaffirmed that development policy should not just be about charity but that it should reflect our values of justice, equality and rights.  International development should be put at the heart of international negotiations, which in her opinion the current government is failing to do.

In support of this sentiment, Jim Murphy MP, Shadow Defense Secretary, affirmed that our best defense policy should be a strong development policy where prevention stops the need for intervention. This is an important acknowledgment given that the international aid budget is often the first to come into the firing line when the possibility of defense budget cuts is raised.

Other issues on the agenda included calls for Labour to support a Robin Hood Tax, which advocates a tax on financial transactions and would use revenue to fund poverty reduction and climate change measures both at home and abroad. In a speech on Monday UNISON’s Mike Hayes publically called for a Robin Hood Tax which would fund services in the UK and international development initiative abroad.

I hope that the debate continues at Conference and begins to inspire the Government to look more deeply at the UK’s role internationally both as a political, corporate and social entity.