Classic Bait And Switch To Justify The Foreign Aid Budget


A classic little piece of bait and switch here to justify that foreign aid budget, that 0.7% of everything we do, which is sent off to foreigners. The Indonesian tsunami, yes, a tragedy. And why not help out people who have just suffered a disaster? But that is then used as a justification for the rest of the gravy train whereby £12 billion or so is spent on, well, actually is spent upon rather a lot of nothing if we’re to be honest.

On Thursday my department, the Department for International Development (DfID), sent a plane loaded with UK aid from the UK to Indonesia. On board were shelter kits and solar lanterns, very practical and essential items that will make a very real and immediate difference to those on the ground. This essential kit was paid for out of the UK’s aid budget. Another plane with UK aid flew from the Middle East to Indonesia this week, carrying similar gear, as well as hygiene kits, containing toothpaste and soap, and other essentials. These are just some of the ways UK aid is making a very real difference in Indonesia right now.

Great, we’re a rich people in a rich nation, why not aid the destitute. But it’s the next bit that doesn’t work so well:

DfID’s work goes on relentlessly around the world, day after day, week after week, year after year. Even when humanitarian crises are not in the news it is striving to make the world a better, more prosperous, safer and fairer world. This is not only a win for developing countries, but a win for the UK, which can only prosper in such a world.

Aiding those who have just avoided being swept away by the waves is justification for sending diversity advisers to poor countries, lecturing them on the importance of feminism in development (correct answer, none, women’s economic liberation comes after a society develops as it becomes less reliant upon simply human muscle power) and, in that iconic case, supporting Ethiopia’s answer to the Spice Girls.

Actually, to say that this doesn’t work is incorrect for it does which is why they keep using the tactic. Look, here’s a starving waif hoping for a stale crust tomorrow. Therefore all unemployed should get enough for a Sky subscription , tabs and booze. Look, here’s a race riot therefore we need 2,000 diversity advisers to reliably vote Labour. See, a stinking pit of industrial waste therefore REACH.

The truth being that each activity needs to be justified in and of itself. The joy of such an evaluation being that we’d have very much less government if we did. Which is, of course, why those who govern don’t do that.