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Extending the social responsibility concept to foreign policy might give finally us a coherent foreign policy!
I have my doubts but it's better than having no foreign policy at all.

Excellent post, Sam. It is encouraging to see evidence that this dignitarian agenda has increasing currency in the party. SB

Hard to disagree with this.
Nick Cohen described brilliantly how the Left have most notably fallen short on human rights in Islamic countries. Only the Right can confidently assert BRITISH values without breaking out into self-flagellation. Only the Right have the guts to phyiscally fight destructive dictators.

Interesting piece. I can be cynical about how aid is distributed (Mercs for jerks..) but that doesn't mean it can't be done equitably. I disagreed with the question because 0.7% seems about right to me, not perpetually more.

Having said that, I had to sympathise with the General who pointed out that DFID spending is increasing 3times faster than MOD spending.

The major problem with foreign aid is that it has always been directed at effect rather dealing with cause. David Cameron's idea of helping people to help themselves rather than simply altruistically doling food and medication is a good one. Often these people's are sitting on a veritable gold mine of resources.

A nation like Brazil for example has fantastic natural reserves which sadly are not exploited for the benefit of the many poor in that country. The west should make the expertise of planners available to countries where a basic lack of organization is a factor in widescale poverty.

As long as we shell out foreign aid we support the governments in power and prevent countries from developing either economically or politically.

It is certainly high time that we adopted a truly "ethical foreign policy". However, if we are going to increase the proportion of GDP given to international development, then we must also develop more person-to-person aid, empowering individuals to contribute creatively to their own communities, rather than pouring yet more tax-payers' money into the corrupt pockets of foreign elites through government-to-government aid.

It might be an idea to have individuals from developing countries trained here in the UK, give them an opportunity to study here for free and allow them to develop skills in agriculture, housing, town planning etc. Once these students return to their native land with a qualification and recommendation from the British government they can take up senior positions and put their skills to good use. I know we have some foreign students already, but what is required is a co-ordinated effort.

Oh dear not another 'ethical foreign policy'!

Rather than being offered the same old guff of 'modernisation' , 'change' , 'consultation' now an 'ethical foreign policy' which Cameron offered us, Brown is offering us, now Clegg is offering us , and Blair offered us the same 10 years ago, would it be a revolutionary thing for politicians to limit their ambitions and offer the people of this country a state which wasn't dysfunctional, made the detriments of state fit for purpose rather than them all being in a state of collapse, and the British state worked for the interests of the British people rather than trying to be a Government for all the world!

Sometimes less is more!

A great post. ConservativeHome at its best. Ethically serious.

Most Conservatives I know care about the poor. Give to Christian Aid. Help their daughters go on gap years. Sign petitions on Burma.


sorry read ...'made the detriments of state fit for purpose'....as... 'made the departments of state fit for purpose'

Tony Makara, don't you think we have enough immigration already, for your suggestion would just add to the numbers as the people studying here would very rapidly end up staying here.

John Hayward, I am sorry to say the mechanism of Aid creates corruption, for Aid is just welfare dressed up in a different name, and when the State starts giving out money , which is always from a centralised pint, it always attracts corruption, and when it does go to the right person is corrupts the recipients.

After $1.5 trillion dollars given in Aid to Africa, and Africa a bigger basket case now than when we started, at what point do we decide Aid doesn't work, after another trillion dollars?

GO! Jennifer Wells...what a conundram that Creation is indisputabley good yet somehow all the world does not think like you.


Iain, students coming to Britain with a view to gaining skills to apply in their own country will not add to immigration, which I agree has become a problem. The great danger is that if we don't help these peoples to help themselves they will eventually leave their countries en masse and will attempt to migrate into Europe. At one time I too was cynical about aid, but now have come to understand the aid that was wasted was not applied in the right way. Aid must go into infrastructure and training as well as the front line.

Like oil wealth, aid from Western governments to their Third World counterparts breaks the link between taxation and representation. Once a state's revenue no longer comes from its own people, it has little incentive to put their interests first.

A far better way to tackle global poverty would be to withdraw from the EU and unilaterally abolish all of our trade barriers. In the 19th century Britain and its colonies grew rich on the back of free trade; we would do well to learn from history.

In any case, the individual is a much better judge of who is deserving of charity than the state.

"students coming to Britain with a view to gaining skills to apply in their own country will not add to immigration"

How are you going to be certain?

But in any case, bringing students to study here is going to be extremely expensive. Surely a better plan is to set up high quality education in their home countries. If the OU can teach degrees by distance learning in this country then I see no reason why at least some could not be done in African countries by the same methods, much more cheaply.

Dear Santa,

For Christmas I would like: a government that recognises it has only one duty - to help the british people, and that everything else (including other countries human rights) is totally irrelevant.

We already spend more on foreign aid than on our own primary schools, so I would like international aid to abolished and spent on Britain.

And I would an end to the liberal internationalist idea of 'global citizenship' and a return the conservative principle of putting Britain first.

"We already spend more on foreign aid than on our own primary schools, so I would like international aid to abolished and spent on Britain"

Why not stop selling foreign countries all products manufactured in Britain (If any these days),stop importing all foreign products and stop fying out of Britain(to save the Earth).

It is this aid which makes those poor countries buy British products including arms.We the Tax payers of Britian help British companies increase their profit in return for jobs.

My be we should stop aid to Foreign countries with poor Human rights record.

The Conservatives seem to pick and choose on Human rights issues. I do agree that we should help people in Burma and Darfur and stop Human rights abuse in those Countries.

We all seem to forget the appalling Human rights record of the Sri Lankan Government. We have thousands (100,000) Tamils living in London only. Unfortunately the Conservative party has completely ignored this communit in London and also failed to criticise the Sri lankan Government for its Human rights record. May be the Conservatives think the Tamils are not Human beings and all Tamils are terrorists including the 2500 NHS Tamil Doctors in Britain.

How many Burmese and Sudanese(from darfur) voters do we Have in Britian.

Its been a never-ending problem with minor success and major failure. Economic development has to happen but not through aid via agencies, but through the homegrown efforts of entrepreneurs and social and political reformers. Once aid agencies realize that aid CANNOT achieve general economic and political development, they could start concentrating on fixing the system that fails to get 12-cent medicines to malaria victims.

John Gale:

Dear Santa,

For Christmas I would like: a government that recognises it has only one duty - to help the british people, and that everything else (including other countries human rights) is totally irrelevant.

I hope Father Christmas takes people like John Gale back to Lapland with him. His attitude is the sort of selfish and stupid attitude that the party can do without.

Nearly every problem Britain faces --- terrorism, pollution, immigration --- is imported from overseas. We cannot prosper without engaging with the world.

Alex Swanson, whatever system of training works best should be applied. I do not believe any students training here would be attempting to stay if they were working under the proviso that their studies were being done to eventually carry out work in their own country. We should also encourage such students to take courses in business studies. As we know business provides jobs, puts food in the shops, invests in infrastructure etc. Once the countries can develop a business and trading culture they will be well on the way to being self-sufficient.

I would like to know how many believe that David Cameron would actually do this should he ever become PM.

The Foreign Office should not be a branch of Oxfam, nor should the MOD.

Our foreign policy should be geared towards increasing the power and prestige of the British people. If that means stuffing gold down the throats of other nations, so be it. If it means supporting our own son of a bitch, so be it.

I would point to the set of policies on aid which came out of Global Poverty Policy Group, which was chaired by Peter Lilley, hardly a left wing wet.

In summary this argued that:
1) aid should be directed more at income generation,
2) there have been enough successes in aid (e.g. the green revolution which averted mass famine through agricultural improvements in Asia) to support a continued aid budget,
3) aid needs to be subject to the same auditing procedures as private sector spending in corrupt countries
4) aid mechanisms which look at bottom up rather than top down solutions (e.g. allowing people/charities/governments to 'bid' for funding in return for basic achievements (e.g. I will run a school in return for 75% literacy results), rather than just giving money to a local town governor for education
5) we should stop pretending we can save countries and focus on small incremental improvements

I find it hard to see what is so objectionable about these policies.

Ultimately, I find it hard to believe that we should not help countries where people die on average in their 40's, where diseases we eradicated years ago are rampant, and people live on less than 50pence a day. I respect those who think on practical grounds aid is a mistake, and makes things worse, but who actually thinks if we can do good we should not? I think that is a fundamentally immoral proposition).

However, on the topic of poverty, what the hell is the Scottish Tory party doing urging people to buy local? No matter how much aid we spend, if we don't buy from poorer countries they will stay poor. Aid is ultimately a very small part of the solution.

As always Sam, I agree with you in the desired aim but not entirely with the methods of achieving it.

There is clearly a moral imperative that demands we do not tolerate the violation of what are, in essence, globally agreed moral absolutes such as the right to life, free speech etc etc. Despite the plentiful room for discord and rancor, in its broadest terms, the UN Declaration on Human Rights provides a widely agreed framework by which humanity can live together. Again, as you correctly highlight, no one can agree to these rights without accepting the responsibility to prevent their violation. It is a matter of simple logic, therefore, that we must do all in our power to prevent abuses of human rights where ever we find them. My query would be; do we do this?

The answer is, of course, not often enough and there are plenty of legitimate reasons for this. We don’t have a moral mandate to compromise the sovereignty of other nations nor do we have the resources to tackle every issue. However, it seems to me that often the decisions of intervention are taken purely on a basis of practicality with morality taking on the role of a second-rate justification once the political, financial and diplomatic hurdles have been cleared. For my money, the best thing a Conservative government could do with regard to human rights would be to reverse this process. Let’s see where we find the most pressing abuses of our broadest moral absolutes and work on those other factors during the attempt to prosecute that moral conviction. Pragmatism is all well and good, but just picking on the usual suspects because they’re convenient does nothing for the development of human rights.

As for feeding one’s neighbour, here we are faced with a slightly different moral argument. Your metaphor explains it well, I would expect most normal people to intervene if their neighbour was beating his wife or children but far fewer would offer handouts to those hitting hard times. The reason for this is, often, the sense of opportunity. Comments of justification might include “I went out and got a job – why can’t he?” “If he got off his backside and did some work he wouldn’t be so hungry!” Etc etc. On the international scene these comments are often scaled-up but the reality, of course, is that they are not appropriate. There is no equality of oppourtunity – not because of environmental factors (as many NGOs and charities will have you believe) but because, in a highly globalised world were wealth disparities are at record levels, the trade offerings made to developing countries usually take into account their hugely disadvantaged position. Ghana cannot compete with European nations, nor can it even negotiate with multi national companies looking to access its resources on decent terms. Certainly some of this is down to population skill levels and governance issues but far more of it is down to the way we apply protectionist measures to safeguard our own interests. These range from the disgraceful Common Agricultural Policy that protects the European agricultural interest groups rather than allowing African countries the chance to use their bountiful land constructively; to individual oil companies that, despite rhetoric, will offer no transparency to the way they conduct their business and secure their deals in the developing world. For me then, our neighbours are much better served through lower trade barriers and transparent business practice that offers the developing world a chance to compete on slightly more equal terms.

Of course, the NGO activist will demand a balance, highlighting the fact that trade deals and market-led support are all well and good but aid must also be delivered to meet short-term needs. I would also agree with this, however, I would contend that, at the moment, this balance has not been achieved and currently over-emphasises aid. In the reality of limited resources, much of our government’s support to developing countries should be re-directed from aid projects that have repeatedly failed in their macro aims, and may actually be causing long-term damage, onto new market-based policies that have an outside chance of making a difference.

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Over the Christmas period I have been talking to friends about Britains commitment to overseas aid and donations to charitable organisations. I can't seem to find a figure that represents our donations.
How much has the Country spent in 2008 on this in total? A break down would be useful.
Thank's John Trickett. Ex Chair Manvers ward Young Conservatives Nottingham 1966

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