I’ve been away for a few days so you’ll have to wait while I catch up with other things before there’s any new content here.
When I got back from my travels, I found a mosaic of Labour Deputy Leadership-related letters forming a junk mail welcome mat. Ooh, look: there’s a picture of Peter Hain shaking hands with Nelson Mandela. Wow, a female MP is abusing her access to party mailing lists to boost Harriet Harman and admits she is doing so because Harman is a woman. Hey, Alan Johnson can do that txtmsg speak.
I care even less about the Deputy Leadership election than Tom Hamilton—who at least cares enough to have written about how little he cares about the Deputy Leadership election. But—and you care about this even less—I’m going to put a ‘1’ next to Hilary Benn’s name and nothing anywhere else.
While I’m on the subject of party politics, dismissive as I’ve been about the supposed influence of Tim Montgomerie, I have to admit that I’ve become a frequent visitor to Conservative Home. I’ve been dropping by not only to laugh at the way the grammar schools issue has blown up so spectacularly in David Cameron’s face, but because it’s a interesting and attractive Website. Shame about the commenters:
Africa Aid while people in the UK cannot get Cancer drugs treatment?
The British government ministers are dishing out British tax payers money on Aid for Africa while the UK government rations and refuses to pay for Cancer drugs treatment to British taxpayers?
Why cannot the likes of Bono, Geldorf, Gordon Brown give their own money to aid for Africa.
Seems like a fair comment to me, I have to say.
U2 have relocated their finances from Ireland to the Netherlands to avoid tax. Bono still reckons governments should give lots of money in foreign aid, just as long as the amount of that money that was ever his is minimised. U2 were, I believe, Ireland’s largest industry, so their corporate relocation has significantly decreased Ireland’s tax take and therefore their foreign aid donations.
Apart from all that, I’m all for giving away some of the benefits of our civilisation and trying to spread the wealth a bit (though I think this is accomplished far better privately than by the state — witness Amazon.com’s customers giving more money to help in the aftermath of the Tsunami than France), but only when we have enough ourselves that we can afford to give some away. It is unreasonable — and, in terms of winning votes, stupid — to combine billions in foreign aid with refusing to give pregnant mothers scans in Glasgow because it’s “too expensive”.
The comment I quote is a grumble about the Fuzzy-wuzzies, not a rational plan for how best to manage limited resources. It’s no accident that so many Tories are middle-managers. They rant about money, but they can’t add up.
The UK spends about 7% of GDP on the National Health Service and less than 0.5% on overseas aid—of which, I am sure, much (if not most) is given to the developing world to spend on British goods or to generate goodwill that lets British firms get on with making real money out there. It’s a cost to the UK in the same way that the tourist-attracting Windsors are a cost to the UK. Net of this, aid to Africa barely qualifies as noise on the graph of total government spending, but complaining about it makes for a good soundbite. And that’s without even getting into an argument over the return in human wellbeing of one pound spent on aid to Africa relative to one pound spent on hospital imaging machines-that-go-beep.
It’s not self-evident that someone in Glasgow really has that much greater a claim on aid from a fellow Briton than someone in need elsewhere in the world. I don’t say “no greater claim at all,” when other things are equal. But when other things aren’t equal, when the need is so much greater in other places than in one’s home country, just how much weight should shared nationality have as a consideration with respect to a duty of aid? I don’t say “no weight at all.” But how much? And why?
As for U2, I don’t know enough about them to say whether they’re hypocrites in the way suggested. But even if it turned out that they were, that would mean nothing so far as determining what our moral obligations are is concerned. Hypocrisy’s bad, but it’s not the worst possible vice, because a hypocrite might at least know what principle ought to operate even if he/she doesn’t live up to that principle. Mistaking a wrong moral principle for a good one can be worse than hypocrisy.
And less government spending overall doesn’t preclude more foreign aid.
[…] …Or even second or third vote for her. This is where preference systems get you. It’s ironic that, even though I think she was one of the worst candidates for the job, I also think her election will improve Labour’s chances of winning the next General Election. […]