The mandate for foreign aid (or lack there of)

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by ASICarrot, May 25, 2010.

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  1. 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 didn’t 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, it’s still money being spent abroad for no direct recompense – 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 – 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 it’s 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?
     
  2. I had one but the wheel fell off
     
  3. WTF do we owe it to? This'll be some hand-wringing sandal wearer bleating about the Empire!

    I agree with your point on the EU contrbutions as well. DFID spending should be co-ordinated in AFG to ensure max support for our Troop effort and make what we are expending in blood worthwhile in gold worthwhile in the long term in that we actually see worthwhile results.
     
  4. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Feck the lot of them!
     
  5. Aid given as export credits is vital to our economy and helps our industry survive, I agree with you that this should be preserved, if not expanded.
    I fail to see why we are pouring money into places that already have buoyant and growing economies or the natural resources to be self-sufficient, to be sending millions to India and China defies logic.
    The biggest problem for me is that so little is done to explain why we need to maintain such high payments, by any of the main parties.
     
  6. People in this country are losing jobs. How can they justify ANY overseas aid when people here suffer.
    As I've already mentioned elsewhere, some of the recipients of aid waste money on nukes and space programs. My argument is simple. If you cam afford these, you get NOTHING from us!
    I feel rather strongly about this!
     
  7. I have queried this 'give-away' time and time again. It is to stop the bearded, sandal-wearing, tree-hugging, idealists from shrieking and squealing.

    I say save this money and let the twerps above shriek and squeal.

    Most of the money goes into the pockets of fat, over-fed, dictators in Africa anyway.
     
  8. Cut the trees down. Burn them.
     
  9. As I've said, some of the aid goes as export credits. That means that the aid can only be spent with British companies. It has been shown that export credit orders almost invariably exceed the amount of the credit so the country doing the ordering is spending real money as well.
    I don't really have a problem with export credit aid but feel the same as you with many other sorts of aid.
     
  10. The Tied aid scheme is a good idea i.e we scratch your back you scratch ours.

    I'd rather see our aid budget if we have to have one be spent on tangible assets rather than doled out in cash payments to governments etc, i.e if you need an irrigation scheme per se, then we will build you an irrigation scheme using local labour, training local people with expertise from the UK and ultimately money going back to the UK in the form of contracts signed for the supply of materials etc.

    I have to agree that any nation that can afford to develop Nuclear weapons and have a space program doesn't need aid in any way shape or form
     
  11. Why should the British taxpayer be "donating"money to foreign governments when times are lean?
    The harsh fact is that we are facing huge spending cuts and tax increases, I am more than a little unhay that a substantial amount of my cash is doled out to the rest of the world via EU contributions and foreign aid.
    There is a simple injustice here, the UK taxpayers faces an ever increasing burden whilst our cash is handed out all over the world. Why should I be obliged to buy a new Mercedes for half the dictators in Africa or help fund the Indian space program?

    Whats do we get in return for our money?
     
  12. no country just gives away money without getting anything in return.
     
  13. Splendid, pleased to hear it.
    So what are we getting in return? Is it £8 to £10 billion's worth?
     
  14. I lost my job like many thousands of people during the recession, did any foreign government around the world give aid to the UK to help out during that period.

    FCUK the rest of the world, sort out the UK, then look to fix the rest of the world.
     
  15. Well Said.
    Out of Interest why are the idiots that screwed up not being investigated? A couple of rough jail terms with Bubba in the showers should sort em out.