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Britain has a new government. What difference will it make to world development?

On paper it’s an improvement. Labour, for example, is committed to reaching the United Nations aid target (0.7% o f G.N.P.) The Conservatives didn’t even accept this as a target aimed for.

Harold Wilson also intends to recreate a separate Ministry o f Development. Edward Heath submerged the old Ministry under the Foreign Office.

On Europe, on trade and manufactured goods, on commodity agreements, on debt re-scheduling, on adjustment assistance, Labour’s policy is better than the previous government from the Third World’s point of view.

Promises Promises Will Labour keep its promises? Probably not. During the last Wilson administration, aid was steadily reduced from 0.64% to 0.37% o f G.N.P. Wilson pleaded ‘balance of payment difficulties’.

Now again, Wilson has the same builtin loophole to disappear through —official policy states that Labour will reach the U.N. target by 1980 “given normal economic circumstances” .

And what price Wilson’s pledge to ‘rescue development aid from being a mere tool of foreign policy’? Forgive us if we smile, Harold. But who was it who froze a £714 million loan to Tanzania just because that country disagreed with Britain’s policy on Rhodesia?

But all this is small beer. Asking which party is better for world development, Labour or Conservative, is like asking which would have most impact on a mountain, a gnat or a flea.

After all, it is not exactly a major commitment to world development when a minority government promises to slightly increase aid to what it was ten years ago in six year’s time if all goes well.

Justice not Crumbs The fact that a Labour government cannot see its way to giving 0.7 o f a penny in the pound to help people who don’t have enough food to eat or water to drink is a sad reflection on the present state of a party which has its origins in the struggle o f the oppressed and the underprivileged.

The Labour party has fought for seventy years on behalf o f those who do not get a fair share o f the wealth they create. And that is the struggle o f the Third World today —not a plea for charity but a demand for justice, the same justice that the poor o f Britain demanded a hundred years ago. Surely the Labour party could be expected to identify with that struggle? But no, they have reduced their ideal o f justice to a gesture o f charity, to 0.7% o f G.N.P., to the merest crumb from the rich man’s table.

There are the people in the new government who recognize this, who are knowledgeable about world development and who do accept it as a priority — people like Frank Judd, Shirley Williams, Judith Hart, Reg Prentice, Roy Jenkins, and on the opposition benches, Richard Wainwright, Bernard Braine, Timothy Raison. These M.P.s, and others like them, should plan to redeem Britain’s dismal record and begin working out a true develop ment policy instead o f shying at substitute targets.

And if this means drastically increasing and untying aid, cancelling debts and waiving interest payments, demolishing tariff barriers, signing commodity agreements, controlling multinational companies, fighting Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, financing more research, putting its weight behind serious United Nations efforts on food, population, law o f the sea, employment, etc. — then so be it. It would earn nothing but respect from most people in Britain and from the rest o f the world.

But there is one vital proviso to all this. If we are to import more textiles and shoes from India, then it should not be the machine-minders o f Lancashire or the leather workers o f Nottingham who pay the price. If we are to continue to buy cane sugar from the Commonwealth, then it should not be the agricultural labourers of East Anglia who suffer. If we are to cancel debts and give more and better aid then it should not be the poor of Britain who bear the brunt. For more equal distribution o f the world’s wealth cannot be achieved at the expense of the already poor — wherever they may be. And any programme aimed at a more just distribution of wealth and well-being internationally would have to include equally determined programmes to achieve a more just system within the nation state —both because the struggle in Britain is not yet won and because justice should not have to show its passport at national boundaries.

From the London Evening News, Feb 21st, 1974:

THE REVEREND . reporter has earned the respect — reluctant in some cases—of the corps of political correspondents covering the daily Press conferences of the three party leaders. His name: The Rev. John Greenway-

And the background to his sometimes abrasive questioning of the party leaders—he asking Mr. Wilson if. he would not “ improve his conduct” if he was returned as Prime Minister—stems from his previous experience as a Fleet Street reporter.

Regularly and disarmingly he has switched the emphasis from the present crisis facing the country to the problem of aid for developing countries.

But today the Reverend reporter is “ unfrocked.”. He i; in fact, a curate at Chi church, Luton. Mr. Greenway left Fleet Street for “the cloth.” -

r i s t st • I

He says: “ I am covering the election for the New Internationalist magazine and preparing briefs for the World Development Movement/'

He has been given leave of absence from the Church of England to cover the election.

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