In our new era of austerity only two departments seem to be avoid from the swinging cuts that are currently barrelling towards us at speed. The British political sacred cow of the NHS and for some strange reason International Aid. Foreign aid occupies a rough 0.6% of British GDP some 8-10 billion pounds worth of expenditure (including DfID running costs) this is around 1/3rd of the MOD budget. For the figures in detail: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Media-Room/News-Stories/2009/Budget-2009---keeping-our-promises-to-the-worlds-poorest-people/ Something that has puzzled me during and after the election is the obsession with fixing the foreign aid budget. During my week covering and chronicling the door to door efforts of Pippa Stroud canvassing effort in Sutton and Cheam for the ASI and Manchester Uni. Politics department (which took on a surprisingly fun twist from appraising the impact of Cameron's stars to watching the power of groundless press accusations to undermine a campaign go unchallenged lest anyone offend the gay lobby), I out of personal interest and for later academic work conducted my own survey. After the canvassing machine had moved off the doorstep, after asking the typical questions on how they felt about the candidate and how door to door influenced their opinion, I asked quite simply; "Do you care about maintaining the foreign aid budget?" Noting key words and a 1-5 importance response. Now just a cursory collation of the figures in the last few days gives me somewhere in the region of 90%+ of 2 thousand people in a relatively wealthy metropolitan Borough rated it as 1 or 2, with the key words 'unimportant'. 'too much' and 'waste' being the most common associated with such scores. Now the other 10% trended towards 5 with the key words of 'vital', 'owed' and 'most important'. The spread of people expressing a desire to vote Labour, Lib Dem and Cons out of this sample (who answered this section) was as a %age 18/29/33/22 abstain/alternative party. Now I know that a huge amount of private polling down by the Tories has shown that its party membership could not give 2 hoots about international aid that is not tied to British goods purchases, nor seemingly did the vast majority of its new parliamentary candidates where it didnât even feature on any of the 110's top priority lists. The new Tories have cemented themselves with pragmatic attitudes towards modern society and a muzzling of the far right reactionary elements of the party - I highly doubt this would be undermined by any significant attempts to rationalise aid expenditure. Seemingly this data also comes back to show that Labour voters and Lib dem voters could not care less about it either. Where is the political mandate? Blair has gone with his pop star courting. Brown has gone along with his ludicrous concepts of international socialism - redistributing wealth from rich nations to poor. Who is left? the Tories and the Lib Dems, who have no mandate and seemingly no public desire to push International Aid. Who could argue with a whole sale reduction of the aid budget to include only two types of programs: 1. Those that provide a direct return to British industry and services - tied aid. 2. Those that show real returns in market growth/stabilisation that British industry and commerce is in a position to exploit. (The opposite of what we have been doing in Nigeria which is spend million propping up government institutions and letting the ChiComs get the contracts) I would propose that ALL EU development expenditure that originates from Britain and is spent at a global or EU level be counted as international aid (and thus be excised from the DfID budget). It does not matter if it is road building in Spain or transfer payments to India, itâs still money being spent abroad for no direct recompense â thus aid. A complete and total suspension of UK contributions to the IMF voucher scheme, any aid is to be made out in British goods only vouchers not the current transfer payments to the US or Germany that UK aid currently manifests as. I know the Tories are attempting to rationalise aid to end the more ludicrous projects, departmental propaganda, trade union funding and increase accountability. But none of this really engenders a sense of value for money for the public. If these investments may pay dividends in the future as markets develop, where is our guarantee on return for investment? How do we prevent far less generous countries from seizing on the new markets? How do we rationalise that 8 billion, even if it all went on market development, would be any more useful in wealth generation for UK firms and the general economy than 8 billion in tax cuts, domestic infrastructure developments or public sector contracts? Now I ask you ARRSE â where is the mandate for ring-fencing international aid coming from? The media seems to be behind it, as are notable business centric organisation but from my research the public is far, far, far from convinced and nowhere does it reflect the slavish worship that foreign aid receives from every other quarter. Why do you feel itâs a spending priority? Why are we so much further ahead than the rest of the world? Why would cutting our levels down to equivalence with the French or Germans be considered political anathema?