I read the 44-page policy paper so you don’t have toby Steve Bloomfield / March 26, 2018 / Leave a comment
Labour is launching its new international development policy today—something that is unlikely to get much coverage in most of the media. (Let’s face it, the press conference at the launch is going to be dominated by questions about second referendums and anti-Semitism).
The 44-page policy document is, as you would expect, a little dry—and despite its length it’s a little light on practical policies. Instead, there are pledges to introduce 16 separate reviews, working groups, plans and summits.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. And coming in the wake of both the Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal and the on-going attempts by Boris Johnson and other hard-right Conservatives to undermine the Department for International Development and fold it back into the Foreign Office, it’s good to see a political party thinking about the positive role Britain’s aid and development policy can have in the rest of the world.
Here are five things worth noting from the paper:
Dfid staff will like it…
It’s not in the press release, but buried at the bottom of page 29 is an indication that the number of staff working at the department will increase. One of the big problems Dfid has faced in recent years is not having enough staff to manage the department’s rising budget. As this paper points out, that “endanger[s] Dfid’s oversight of contracts, its ability to understand the landscape and political context where it works and, ultimately, how effectively our aid budget is spent.” There will also be more oversight by Dfid of aid money spent by other departments—again, this will be welcomed by Dfid’s aid experts.
…but NGOs might not
Any aid worker hoping that Labour will continue the somewhat cosy relationship it has had with NGOs in the past, will be disappointed. The paper criticises “unchecked abuses of power, an aid industry that is known for throwing its weight around in disaster zones and outmuscling local civil society organisations, and wage inequality between the lowest earners at the bottom and CEOs at the top, and between men and women.”
How aid money should be distributed instead, is left unclear. The paper promises that a Labour government will “promote inclusive local ownership of its international development projects.” It’s not entirely clear what that means.