Yesterday was designated as ‘World Poverty Day’ by the major parties competing to be elected on the 6th May. The leaders of the three biggest parties all concentrated on their plans for international development during the day, with Gordon Brown, leader of the Labour Party making a speech to a church congregation and releasing an open letter to the leaders of charities emphasising his personal commitment and the Labour party’s ‘ambitious agenda’ for 2010; David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party visiting Islamic Relief’s distribution depot in Birmingham and writing about development in the Independent on Sunday; and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats giving a speech on international development to the congregation of Christ Church, New Malden.
There was also a flurry of activity within the smaller parties, with the Scottish National Party releasing a statement saying that SNP MPs will continue to call on the UK government to meet its commitments to international development.
Over the past few weeks the leaders of the UK’s main political parties have all been striving to emphasise their support for international development, to reassure an electorate that is well-known as being aware of global poverty that they care about the issue too. Underlining the importance of advocacy in creating this consensus, Gordon Brown said ‘progress in this area relies … on campaigners such as you. When there is no global campaign on these issues, our ability to bring change is much less. When the public are unaware of the way aid works, we cannot inspire the confidence we need.’
In recent blog posts we have highlighted the growing consensus between the major parties on development, including the shared pledge to enshrine the 0.7% target for aid in legislation, which RESULTS strongly welcomes.
In recent days a discussion has arisen about Conservative policy on development, with an open letter in the Observer raising questions about the way the Conservatives plan to deliver aid, while acknowledging and praising the Conservative’s conversion to support the 0.7% promise. Andrew Mitchell, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development responded later on Sunday, saying that the Conservatives will be ‘un-ideological’ about how to deliver aid.