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By and large, JH has it right but LF merely reiterates what we already know. What we would like to know is HOW Defence will be boosted. Now that the SFB has access to Civil Servants I hope we, the British electorate, will soon be hearing concrete proposals together with sums that add up. Int.Dev - billions to China & India (both nuclear/space) is an insult to taxpayers since both these countries can well afford to alleviate their own social problems but they lack the will. And, as for giving £7m to the Palestinian Authority, which is a 'Hamas Relief Fund' in all but name, I'm almost speechless.

Given the coming economic whirlwind, and providing Brown manages to hold on through a Spring of Redundancies and a Summer of Discontent, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a Labour wipe-out in June and a forced Autumn GE.

Alternatively, we could savagely slash foreign aid by 75% and spend the money on helping the genuinely poor, the aged, the disabled and the people with mental health problems in our own country, before we try and solve the problems outside our borders.

Then, when all our own problems are solved, we could ask the taxpower how much of their tax pound they'd like invested outside the borders and government could act charitably as per the will of the people whose money it is spending.


I think in arguing your case for International Development you should not reference articles that say this sort of thing (from Stephen Crabbe's article):

DFID currently has more money than it sensibly knows what to do with and its Ministers are in the enviable position of being able to publicise new funding for poor countries and development initiatives on a near-fortnightly basis.

Is it any wonder then that Conservatives feel it is an area where funding can be cut? Such statements hardly provide credibility to your argument. Crabbe goes on to say:

We will need to show real determination to move to a clear outcomes-based agenda. The British taxpayer has a right to know just what their money is purchasing in terms of real measurable improvements in the lives of the poorest people.

I suggest that until such a coherent plan exists your views (however worthy they are)will fall on stony ground.

Furthermore, Crabbe argues against cutting aid to India in contradiction to Andrew Mitchell's piece. So I would also suggest a need for a consistent plan as well.

Finally none of the articles linked put the amount spent on International Development in context of the overall Government spend or highlight what outcomes have been achieved or by making savings what else might be achieved (or not as the case maybe).

Without such background I really don't think people will change their views. Justifying a case on vague 'moral' or 'national security' grounds just won't do in the middle of a recession.

Brown's spending is ridiculously unaffordable, and his overseas "aid" is akin to buying a beggar a meal on your credit card because you have no money yourself.

As for the 2 air craft carriers, he issued that pledge prior to his local by-election despite the Navy said they didn't need them, had nothing to do with them, and didn't know they were planned. Brown's cons are as clear as a plate of glass.

When I took this survey, I considered what we pay to the EU to be apart of International Development.

Afghanistan would seem to unfortunately encompass the issues here particularly the assertion of morality and national security.

We are there in order to? Prevent the export of trained terrorists in order to reduce the threat of domestic terrorist attack.

We do this by? Taking a piece of ground by advancing to contact, getting shot at, shooting back, evacuating our casualties then going back to where we first started from. The next day we do the same thing on the same piece of ground. Ad infinitum.

Domestic terrorist attacks? The threat is demonstrably internal and where 'trained' attacks such as the Mumbai massacre are carried out the training is done 'out of bounds' to coalition forces.

Are we achieving purpose? No.

However, we pump in the aid to pump the water and light the lights so that an enemy financed by exporting class A drugs to the UK can blow up some temporary infrastructure. The morality? The opium crop is 'out of bounds' to coalition forces as it would be immoral to force the farmers to grow food as this would impoverish them. So the opium trade continues and our politicians squeak with fury at domestic knife/gun crime and gang culture lubricated with the Afghan cash crop.

What would help 'us' the most? Using the military strategy of the Grand Old Duke of York with both hands tied behind his back or torching the poppy fields?

I disagree with Tim's view on DFID.

Unless the government is going to do something that private charity cannot accomplish, it seems to me that DFID is simply taking money from people to feed the government machine and to spend on the priorities of government rather than the priorities of those who earned the money in the first place.

DFID should be shut down.

An unbelievable poll! Not the fairly sane results but the fact that Public Spending can be at the forefront of any Party's mind when faced by the looming economic disaster.

Time to consider scrapping the NHS and other equally drastic measures (see my blog today)not pushing the party towards further blind complacency when even your vapid leader mentions the bombing of the economy and thus appears finally to be grasping the true depths of the disaster.

No wonder my visits here become ever rarer, to which Foreign donors (the IMF appearing increasingly overstretched) can Britain look to ease the pain? Now that perhaps is a worthwhile topic for discussion rather than DFID.

Surely if we abolished DfID, individuals would still be able to donate to individual countries and charities if they so wished? Surely individuals are better at deciding where their money goes, rather than government?

Isn't that what conservatism is about? Are we, as conservatives, calling for collectivised charity? For state-approved good causes? For government-driven donations?

We've seen how Labour have used the Lottery to channel spending towards their favourite political causes, much to the detriment of small community-based organisations.

If we are to help countries out for our own economic and geo-political reasons, then it should be done via the Foreign Office and with plenty of political and commercial strings attached. Why should we be against state-enforced charidee at home but not abroad?

The first duty of any government is defence of the Realm and law and order at home.

Says who?

The more numb-skulled we become, the more we need defence.

In my opinion, you are confusing last resort and first duty.

"International Development" aid is generally a case of taking money from poor people (the taxpayers) in rich countries and giving it to rich people (corrupt government officials) in poor countries. Why are we giving 'development aid' to India?

And when I hear of any of my taxes going to fund the evil and corrupt terroristic outfit calling itself the 'palestinian authority' (whether this happens directly or via the auspices of the EU) it truly makes my blood boil.

When 1.1 billion are living on under $1 a day it's obvious we should continue to give to overseas aid. Government and private sector.

These results show three things. Firstly Conservative Party members are more interested in building bombs to kill people than building an NHS that will save more and more people from dying before they should.Secondly it shows that Conservative Party members do not really believe in the NHS and lastly it shows how out of touch Conservative Party members are with the concerns and priorities of ordinary people.

Aid should be linked to education & contraception. The world is overpopulated, & I see no reason for endless processions of people to be born into an early death or a life of poverty if they're "lucky". Simply throwing more money into what exists now will do more harm than good, the only way forward is to offer a sustainable future with a skilled population in liveable countries.

You can't endlessly come up with wheezes like GM food to feed a spiralling population. Better to really create a better future rather than listening to the have-it-all neoliberals, whose dominance has had such a negative effect as we have seen recently.

Be realistic if you're going to support aid.

I am not surprised but still disapointed that welfare is so low on the priority list.

Two cases, one a friend, that I know of.
People under 25 are given something like £35 a week to live on. Who can live on that?. Housing benefit pays the market rate for a hostel room share- irrespective of the circumstances. Who wants to live like that?

Then a lady who is 55. She ownes a structurally damaged property that cannot be sold. She has an asset. She has been turned down for benefit therefore. No-one wants to give her work because she is 'too old'. She lives on food grown in an allotment. This, in a First World country!

I think too many Conservatives see benefits as there to drain the tax payer to subsidise illegal immigrants and the work shy. From first hand experience, these two people come nowhere near that scenario- I bet the vast majority of people on benefit do not.

We do not look after people in Britain. It is economically, morally and ethically correct that we do. What point is a government if it does not look after all its citizens? Labour is a disgrace- we should not copy them.

Jack Stone:

These results show three things. Firstly
Conservative Party members are more interested in building bombs to kill people than building an NHS that will save more and more people from dying before they should.Secondly it shows that Conservative Party members do not really believe in the NHS and lastly it shows how out of touch Conservative Party members are with the concerns and priorities of ordinary people

This is utter nonsense. These findings show nothing of the sort. What it reflects is a genuine fear that whilst the NHS has been more than adequately funded over recent years that the defence of the nation has been sadly starved of much needed funds leaving this Government unable to undertake it's military responsibilities properly and leaving our armed service personnel in unnecessary danger.

You might not care about the lives of our Armed Service personnel but Conservatives do.

What your post shows is that you suffer from the same tiresome callous disregard for those who would risk their lives for this country as many of your Labour compatriots do.

Most posters miss the point. We have a stunningly top heavy overpaid bureaucracy. In defence we have as many civil servants as soldiers, in the NHS we have more adminsitrators than nurses and doctors. In the police,fire, and ambulance services we are overmanned with non coal face people. Other agencies are similarly over stuffed. Local govrnment employs far too many on far too much money.

Our aid should be tied to Britsh Goods and Services with competitor nation exclusion clauses.

Steve Tierney:
"..government could act charitably as per the will of the people whose money it is spending"
Not on, I suggest: charity is by definition a voluntary act, and an individual one. Any government is voted into power by a minority of the population, and we suffer already from sweepingly presumptuous rulers who plead the ju-ju word "democracy" for every hyper-expensive and/or lunatic judgement they make.
Sorry to carp, since your initial statements about reducing foreign aid are fine, albeit somewhat modest if you envisage "slashing" by only 75%.... I'd do away with "foreign aid" altogether, and if there happened to be some impoverished foreign country thought generally by our people to be worthy of assistance, I'd suggest sending experts to show them how to become wealthier, as a rational alternative to cash handouts.


None of your comments are ever favourable to Conservative policy but they all slavishly follow Labour's "attack dog" line.

You have been found out as a Labour infiltrator. You ARE the weakest link - goodbye.

Jack Stone doeesn't even make any sense - the NHS? bombs? ....

I agree wholeheartedly with Tanuki's succinct comment @ 16.21, and also with Asquith @ 17.51 on the subject of education and contraception, and over-population. I have often commented on this. My first introduction to the subject was 30years ago, meeting a renowned Bangladeshi Doctor, who worked for WHO, and worked tirelessly to try to educate people, about the dangers of over-population. Unfortunately, his good works don't seem to have made any impression at all!!!

Obviously, our armed forces must have sufficient funding. However, I am genuinely surprised that this was the top choice.

We certainly could manage with far fewer Civil Servants in the MOD. Another cost-cutting measure, would of course, be to mnimise the current level of "red tape". Also, I suspect that the procurement process could be simplified?

I think, whether we like it or not, the forces need more spending because they've been asked to do so much with an insufficent budget. We can't jump back in time and undo this, so really we need to bite on the bullet and look for extra cash.

Already longer-term procurement has suffered because of the need to redirect money to overseas operation. The Royal Navy currently is only getting six destroyers to replace twelve, the new escort project still hasn't been approved, carriers are being delayed, sea harriers gone, RAF stealing the other harriers, etc. And that's just the senior service.

Defence is a bit like a house insurance policy. It can be expensive and a pain because you rarely need it. It's tempting to cut corners and make it bare-bones. But when you need it boy do you need it. If you scrimp too much it's useless when the chips are done. Similarly if we try to "get by" by cutting up our forces what's left might not be able to do much by itself.

I have to disagree with the comments on International Development. Personally, I'd take great pride in seeing the budget cut back drastically in that area, and indeed, if I had my way, I'd want to see the department abolished as well and its duties taken over by the foreign office again.

I'd also want to see the abolition of the culture department (going back into local government dept), Climate change department (going back into Environment), the remerging together of the now two education departments and a new department of the isles replacing the seperate Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland departments.

Over the years, the number of departments has begun to grow as a job creation exercise for politicians. It needs to be stopped in its tracks before we end up with ministries for everything under the sun.

And when it comes to international aid, of course in an ideal world we should be prepared to help those in need abroad. But I take the view that this should be left to charities and non-government organisations. Government should only raise international aid following unforseen disasters, emergencies or as a link to trade. Aside from that, most people in the country would quite rightly say that 'charity begins at home'. It may not be the politically correct view with the left-wing bias media, but mabye if the Tory leadership stopped pandering to that bias, they would find more enthusiasm by their own party members and people in the country.

I should clarify that the comments on international aid that I am taking issue with are those of Tim Montgomerie, not those of the posters above with which I whole-heartedly agree.

I disagree with Shaun on International Aid - we must have a department focused on that, but need to help people put sustainable development in, and share knowledge, by-passing corrupt governments and organisations if we can.
Charities are vital of course, but as a government we should be as generous as we can, provided it goes to something productive. To be fair to Claire Short, I think she was a good International Aid Secretary, who got things done.

But I strongly agree with what Shaun says about excessive numbers of many other departments. There are too many of them, and they appear to have been split up for job creation/beaurocratic reasons, often with very goody goody PC titles. We should recreate an Education and Employment dept, successfully run by Gillian Shepherd in the 1990s without a single whinge.

Norman Fowler even managed to run the Department of Health AND Social Security from 1981 to 1987. I'm not suggesting returning to one department for that, but it is notable that the DSS part has since been split again, part of it Work and Pensions. It doesn't seem to have prevented catastrophic mismanagement of the pensions.

Malcolm Stevas :

Actually I don't really disagree with you at all. I can't personally see how it is the government's business to give our money to 'causes' in other countries in any circumstance. It seems to be a job they've taken onto themselves without ever really being asked to do so.

Did anybody ever say: "You know, I'd like to give a chunk of my money every month to a wide swathe of countries and causes overseas, please do it for me because I'm not capable of doing it for myself!" Of course not.

We CAN do that ourselves, to the amount we judge morally correct or can afford.

The argument seems to be that if the government does not do it on our behalf, then we won't do it at all. I don't agree with that, but lets just pretend they're right for a moment...

If people really *dont want* to give money, as is the suggestion, then how is the government supporting the wishes of its constituents by just going ahead and doing so?

Whereas if people DO want to give money, they are entirely able to do so themselves. To the charity of their choice, to the country of their choice, through the many aid and charity organisations.

I'd even suggest that government aid damages direct aid. People think they don't need to do it if the government is already doing it for them.

I suspect the British spirit is more generous than people realise. Do away with government aid and replace it with voluntary aid and the deserving causes would get more.

I voted for Education,with the emergence of India and China,i think it is imperative.

I recently came across some information that,i think needs to addressed more urgently than any of these subjects.



This is absolute madness,the most succesful part of the UK under Labour has been London,


We English making up 85% of the UK population,are being asked to pay ever more tax to make the other 3 nations not look like basket-cases.

I am a Unionist,but tough love needs to be practised sooner rather than later,for the good mostly of the nations outside England.

I do however understand the N-Ierland situation as vastly different for obvious reasons,Wales & Scotland however are being feather-bedded by the English taxpayer.

If you were in no doubt New-Labour was dead,look at those horrific figures.

I vote for Oversea's Aid as the least priority,i think we are signed up to enough of these Aid projects.

UK in 2007 became the largest funder of the World-bank,overtaking the USA.

I am not mean,we seem to be paying both through EU contributions,and our national Aid budget,in reality paying twice.

In 2008,when meeting the China leader,Brown gave him £50m to invest in Green Technology,sorry does China need UK Aid?




I am astonished that infrastructure and energy are not higher on peoples' priorities. And those posting messages who point out that no one has said exactly which part of defence spending should be increased are spot on. Yes, body armour and proper supplies and equipment for troops on the frontline. No more huge procurement boondoggles or privatisations like Quineteq. And why, finally, a replacement for Trident, a weapon that cannot be used, and which has not so far deterred any of the wars we are involved in? A weapon targetted out of Omaha, Nebraska, serviced in King's Bay Georgia and only recently, we discover that an American consortium has bought Aldermaston where the warheads are made. 'Independent' indeed! Another imperial illusion, more like.

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