Tag Archives: International Development

Video to mark World AIDS day.

3 Dec

This is a video I saw a few months ago, but it is still incredibly moving. Its just really, really well done.

 

Advertisements

A look at the second leader’s debate

22 Apr

It’s here, the much-anticipated second leader’s debate. What will happen? Will Clegg triumph again? Will Brown again posture towards the Lib-Dems or will he try to go it alone? Will Cameron finally bring up his Big Society policy, even though it has nothing to do with foreign affairs, the topic for the second debate?

Below is a brief synopsis of how I think it will go for each leader.

Nick Clegg

His star is shining bright, so there will be sky high expectations of him. Unfortunately, foreign affairs is probably the Lib-Dems worst subject. Clegg has flip-flopped on the Euro issue and now says taking on the Euro would be a mistake, but at the same time, it is there in black and white in the Lib-Dem manifesto that one day the UK should accept the Euro. Essentially, the Lib-Dems love Europe, especially Clegg. This isn’t necessarily going to go down well with some swing voters, but the question is, how many of these people are actually going to vote for the Lib-Dems anyway?

Clegg is also in an interesting position as expectations are high. Brown and especially Cameron are going to try to ground him. But all Clegg has to do is misquote Reagan again and again – “There they go again” in response to the two bigger parties’ attacks. He probably doesn’t need to answer a question other than make everyone feel sorry for the little guy. I feel this is the best option, because going on the attack and trying to be equal to Labour and the Tories on foreign policy is a mistake – because he’d lose.

David Cameron

If Clegg is under pressure, Cameron is under just as much if not more. He has to up his game significantly from the first debate, where he forgot to mention his key domestic policies. Problem is, foreign affairs isn’t the Tories strongest subject and they have been out of power for 13 years, so their international reputation may not be as strong as they’d like it to be.

Cameron will be hit on his ‘iron clad guarantee’ for a referendum on Europe. It obviously isn’t going to happen and there are a lot of conservatives, not party members, just conservatives, who don’t trust his Europe policies. Likewise, Brown and Clegg are both going to hammer him on the Conservative’s relationships within Europe, including his Polish partners.

His promise to keep an independent DFID and legislate a 0.7% aid budget will also come under fire from ultra-conservative voters. I know many aid groups are pleasantly surprised by this, but when you can’t secure your base, it’s not the best strategy to try to out flank your opposition from the left.

Cameron is also going to mention the Iran question, but his intervention during the green revolution was reported by some as a gaffe. The UK and the USA statements focused on a “we’re watching with interest”, because they knew public support of the protestors would enable the Iranian officials to claim the unrest was caused by UK and USA intervention. However, Cameron came out and decried the lack of support from Brown to the protestors and publically stated that the protestors had the support of the UK people. This was naive foreign policy.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has relationships overseas, in fact believe it or not, he is very well-respected internationally, in 2009 he was voted world statesmen of the year and is respected overseas more than in the UK. This is his biggest trump card and needs to play it. This is hugely beneficial for issues such as the Tobin Tax, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East in general. Afghanistan funding will again be a weak spot due to issues such as the numbers of helicopters etc.

He also needs to be more forceful I feel. Although he performed above expectations in the last debate, I think the Iron Chancellor needs to be on the stage. Due to the lack of audience interaction, jokes don’t necessarily play well on TV due to the silence in the studio – it makes it sound like the joke has fallen flat. Brown did well confronting Cameron on the police issues in the first debate and I thought the “it’s answer time not question time”, was effective. He needs to do it again, especially on Europe.

Brown is less pro-EU that Clegg, he keeps Europe at an arm’s length, but with an open palm, not a clenched fist. This will make voters feel more comfortable.

But he still has the image problem and that will be his biggest weakness.

All-in-all, it will be a fascinating evening and I’m looking forward to seeing the polls the next day.

cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Comms.

The Tories are panicking

28 Feb

As I lay here in my sickbed, unfortunately unable to canvass for Sadiq Khan and LCID, slowly going mad watching endless Law and Order and Scrubs, I’ve had the opportunity to read even more political articles than I would normally and it is clear that the Tories are in severe panic mode. Not just the doldrums and messaging meetings that you hear about in the media in general prior to today’s poll that saw them only two points ahead of Labour, but proper sweat inducing, palpitation creating, panic.

With the news of this poll, there is talk of them lurching to the right, looking scarily like the McCain 2008 campaign. McCain was known as a moderate and tried to appear so, but during the campaign, although somewhat earlier than Cameron is being called to, he had to lurch to the right to ensure he kept the base. There is significant pressure at the moment for Cameron to start campaigning heavily on tax cuts and immigration, sure signs of panic and dangerous ground to play, because all of a sudden you lose the moderates. There are even signs that some within the party have broken with Tory HQ and are already campaigning on immigration, without approval, but still in the name of Ministers.

There are even stories starting to question the leadership of Cameron, suggesting they would do better under Hague. It seems so long ago similar storylines were in print about Labour. Hoon and Hewitt seem a generation ago. The Conservative press are turning against the Tories and Cameron, they are spouting panic and that doesn’t help the them in the view of a very confused public who don’t know if they can trust him either. They certainly don’t know him.

There is a Cameron quote in the TimesOnline this morning;

“I would say after doing 4½ years of this job, people have got to know me — not as much as I would like but there are some weeks still to go.”

Really, after 4 1/2 years he thinks a couple of weeks will make a difference? Surely that’s grasping at straws.

To be honest, credit where credit due, Cameron is doing the moral thing. I don’t like him, but he realises that the Tories of the far right isn’t where the party should be. And I hope he doesn’t go towards the immigration  line and it appears he won’t, because that only gives credit to Griffin and the BNP’s argument.

The question is, is this a blip, or is this the Kinnock moment in 1992 that things went haywire for the Conservatives and they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I sure hope so.

Update:

I just saw on sky news that theofficial word from inside the Tory leader’s suite in the Metropole is that the latest poll setback “stiffens our resolve” and “blows out of the water their underdog strategy”. It is never a good sign when you are fighting for the underdog title, especially if you are still ahead in the polls as the Tories are, albeit by only two. points.

Pneumoccocal disease in the developing world

12 Sep

The WHO haPneumo_deaths_maps recently released figures surrounding the global disease burden of pneumococcal disease and Hib, two of the leading causes of pneumonia which kills more children that AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

In 2000, 735,000 children under 5 died from pneumococcal disease which is an enormous number. There were an incredible 14.5 million cases globally.

This disease causes meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and inner ear infections. These diseases lead to disability and death. Tragically, it is entirely preventable by vaccination.

According to the press release posted on PneumoADIP’s website, “the ten countries with the greatest number and greatest proportion of global pneumococcal cases were in Asia and Africa, and taken together account

Pneumococcal disease deaths

Pneumococcal disease deaths

for 66% of cases worldwide. These countries include India (27%), China (12%), Nigeria (5%), Pakistan (5%), Bangladesh (4%), Indonesia (3%), Ethiopia (3%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (3%), Kenya (2%) and the Philippines (2%).”

Hib, another disease that is almost completely preventable, yet in 2000, there were 363,000 deaths and 8.1 million cases.

The work of PneumoADIP, the Hib Initiative, the WHO, the GAVI Alliance and UNICEF to name but a few players has been phenomenal. Their work to get the developing world access to vaccines against this disease, in particular through the Advanced Market Commitment, has been phenomenal. Likewise, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World which I am involved with as secretariat has made enormous strides lifting the profile of this disease in the UK and overseas.

These figures will enable governments, for the first time, to have accurate figures actually detailing the scale of the problem. A significant reason why more hasn’t as yet been done was simply because there wasn’t enough awareness surrounding the disease and there were no accurate figures to ascertain the true breadth of the problem. However, nations will now understand the scope of the problem and be able to do something about it. These figures could make a world of difference and hopefully, it will.

Budget 2009 – Something to smile about.

22 Apr

The doom and gloom budget has been published, but in terms of international development how bad was it?

According to the Department for International Development (DFID) the Government has confirmed that Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) will remain at £9.1billion as previously pledged. This is despite an expenditure cut of £155m.

All in all, for a budget in dire economic times, during preparation for an election in 12 months and when a Chancellor has to admit he will be raising taxes not long after – that is a pretty good result.

But before you get too excited, there are a couple of things to remember. Firstly, with a shrinking economy, 0.7% of GNI (Gross National Income)isn’t as much now as it was a year ago. Secondly, these figures are forecasted rather than actual i.e. it’s all just educated guess work, so we will see how on track the UK actually is to meeting these targets next budget. If the economy contracts even further unexpectedly or if the economy suddenly booms, we will see how these figures stack up.

But most importantly, in terms of percentages, the UK is living up to its promise of meeting the 0.7% GNI target. In 2007, ODA was 0.36% GNI (£4.921bn) which grew to 0.43% (£6.306bn) in 2008. The £9.1bn pledge is significant and hopefully, it is a figure that looks like the Government will meet.

So, from this brief vantage point, the Government has listened to itself by promising to continue to help the poorest nations during this financial crisis. At least there was some good news in this budget. Some governments may be tempted to have tightened the purse strings on issues that don’t effect the immediate electorate. But the Government has decided against this.

Organisations like Oxfam are right to be happy.

Cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Org