Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dear Prime Minister... you're talking bollocks

I see our dearly beloved Prime Minister has made a passionate defence over the International Development aid budget. This was after the Daily Mail woke up to an argument the some made even before the Coalition was formed that you cannot credibly call for austerity at home and talk about tough times whilst simultaneously ring-fencing and increasing how much money you piss away to foreign countries in aid.

Now naturally, the knee-jerk reaction to making this sort of argument is that you are in some way "callous". One of the other thing you hear is that we're a rich country and so should do it. To that I say bullshit. We're not a rich country, what we are is in fact a country that has less debt that countries we're giving money we don't have away too. If you're operating in the red and giving away money to others in the red then you're not rich at all, you're just skint and shuffling credit around.

The fact is, there is nothing callous about reeling in aid spending whilst you get yourself back on your feet. As I said back in March 2010, if Cameron or whoever stood up and said "you know what, we're in a bit of strife ourselves at the moment, and we really can't afford to do this right now" everyone in the country of the non-tribal idiot persuasion would, I imagine, nod and say "fair enough". After all, if you had £1000 and you're total bill were £1000 you;re not going to say "I think I'll give £100 to charity".

It is not callous, it is not uncaring, it is simply deferral until you're have a sound footing to start doing it again.

We've heard a lot about cuts in the last years. Some of it has been true, some of it hasn't. The thing is it doesn't matter either way, if people think their losing something at home whilst pumping money we don;t have abroad to the same cut value they're not going to be up in arms of outrage if politicians say "actually we;re going to server you, not those for the moment".

David Cameron's obsession with detoxifying the Tory-brand is blinding his judgement. If he just took a moment to lead instead of following what he thinks would be the outcome he would, I think, find that much of the country would follow him and respect him.

It's a very simple question with an even simpler one word answer. Do you give money to charity when you have none? You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who says yes I think. Sadly though I don't think Cameron is strong enough to take that view. He likes to talk the talk about making "tough decisions" when it comes to his own country, but doesn't have the balls to do it when it comes to others.

Now before anyone does predictably call me callous and uncaring I say this. I'm not saying that foreign aid should be scrapped. What I'm saying is that we should only be spending on it when we can actually afford to do so, and not at the expense of whatever spending can be achieved at home. Get the finances and house in order first, then come back to the issue later.

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