On Thursday morning at the Wellcome Collection, Penny Mordaunt the MP for Portsmouth North gave a speech which began with an explanation of what other role she plays in our Government “I am the Secretary of State for International Development. And it is my job is to lead the UK’s charge on delivering the Global Goals, but it is also my job to listen.” She then spent some time explaining who she has listened to. She did not state whether she has finished listening. Let us hope not as many of her subsequent comments require changes.
She made a number of statements within her speech which suggest that there is a relaunch of our Governments Overseas Development Aid (ODA) which she went on to call a New Initiative or the Great Partnership:
“Our new development offer needs to be a national mission that we can all unite behind…It must be more effective at ending poverty and delivering the global goals – goals that we are currently years adrift from, or even measuring.”
Sadly Penny did not attempt to explain what is needed to ensure that such a gap will be closed. The global goals she was referring to are presumably the millennium development goals and we are now 3 years passed the point when these were aimed to be ended. This website states “The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015” It is not very encouraging to discover that goals which were scheduled to be fulfilled three years ago are still not capable of being measured as far as Penny Mordaunt is concerned.
In her speech she seemed to spend a long time explaining why she had voted to leave the EU but she then went on to explain “We are determined to be a great global nation and to be a Great Global nation we need the trinity of the ‘three Ds’ – Diplomacy, Development, Defence.”
She made at least one point which seems deeply inconsistent, she explained “It should reflect the people’s priorities of Global Britain. It should unashamedly have British values at its heart” and then later on she stated “We must focus on helping developing countries stand on their own feet and build sustainable health and education systems.” It is clear that helping people to stand on their own feet means understanding their priorities and values and supporting these, and so therefore it will be rare occasions when our priorities and values and those of the nations we wish to help will be a perfect fit.
Another strange comment was “we also need to examine how we operate ODA in Whitehall. How we incentivise more joined up working between departments.” It seems odd to launch a new policy when the speech includes references to 18 year old goals that are still not measurable and internal departments that seem incapable of working together in an effective manner. Perhaps more work needs doing before such as policy is launched and can be taken seriously.
There were also a number of references to how such a policy should work for British businesses, almost as if this was about British Aid, not Overseas Aid: “With the Department for International Trade, we are working with sub-Saharan Africa to create jobs and growth. That’s good for them, but also good for British companies too.”…….”And if we want others to help towards the global goals, we need to further open up our work further still. We need to work much more strategically with global business, we need a network of entrepreneurs. We need to broaden our supplier base, we need to create more partnerships. We need to match the nimbleness and flexibility of the private and tech sectors and smaller organisations.”
The Great Partnership as explained by Penny Mordaunt is:
- Firstly, humanitarian assistance: of which the public are rightly proud
- secondly, we will build on our work with the NHS and Public Health England.
- Thirdly, we’ll increase our work supporting security, the rule of law, human rights, and tackling crime and corruption.
- fourthly we will develop economies and human capital. If we want nations to move from aid to trade, we must too.
It is the final one of these that once again was loaded with reference to our economy which included the following sentence: “We are going to have a new trade offer which includes a new partnership with the City of London to bring down the barriers to trade and unlock investment for emerging markets in Africa and Asia.” along with “we will ensure British businesses can compete freely and fairly. As we will also expect from any competition using EU instruments that Britain has contributed to.”
It seems vital that when we make funds available to nations and people groups who we want to help stand on their own feet, that we don’t make them dependent on our businesses or the city of London, and that we sort out our internal processes in Whitehall ASAP! It also seems concerning for someone who is proud of her departure from the EU to want to promote values which apparently made the EU unappealing!