Opening up political debate on international development

Jonathan Glennie has a post on the Guardian Poverty Matters Blog today which echoes my analysis of Ivan Lewis’s speech to Labour Party Conference. In particular, Jonathan welcomes the way Ivan is beginning to open up a real political debate on what the British government should be doing about overseas aid and international development. As Jonathan says, it’s a debate that the Conservatives sought to close down in the aftermath of Make Poverty History in 2005, as part of David Cameron’s detoxification of the brand.

Now that the architect of that detoxification, Andrew Mitchell, has moved on, it will be interesting to see whether the Conservatives respond to Ivan’s critique. They could, for example, accept Ivan’s re-opening of the debate either by deepening DFID’s move towards being an aid agency, they could move on to a more business-focused DFID (back to the future with a vengeance – watch out for more Pergau Dam projects!) Or they could move to re-occupy the middle ground by blurring the aid/development dichotomy, and paint Ivan’s new approach as unacceptably radical and controversial. Given the stellar grasp of strategy that Justine Greening showed at Transport, Ivan need perhaps not worry too much.

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