+A bit of a wrangle in Parliament today about whether Johnson and Co. should get away with cutting the UK’s current 0.7% of GDP overseas aid budget. That figure is enshrined in law (by a Labour government) and honours a UN commitment. Tories argue that we are borrowing a lot of money during the pandemic, so can’t afford to give away more than 0.5% They say we are in something of a crisis, as if nobody else is, least of all the countries at the bottom of the heap. In other words, it’s just Tories being Tories, the usual callous bastards. The Tory move is a slight deviation from my ‘Never’ rules (see a previous blog) for today’s politicians which is to say, never admit you’ll always put your own first. But in this case it is precisely what is happening and can be used as a signal, (for amplification by the Murdoch press) that that’s exactly what’s happening. The Sun has of course run with this message, namely that the undeserving (black) poor can just wait their turn. This deep analysis forgets that Covid doesn’t make such distinctions. It has to be said that the 0.7% overseas aid target, as a figure is no more based on rationality than anything else—it was a figure plucked out of thin air by the UN and was always inadequate. A bit like current international thinking on tackling climate change.
+As I write I don’t yet know whether Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador and prolific and contentious blogger (not least on Scottish affairs) has been sent to prison for ‘contempt of court.’ This affair arose out of his reporting the court proceedings over Alex Salmond’s sexual misconduct trial, in which he was found innocent of all charges. Murray may have his biases (don’t we all) but his conviction was clearly politically motivated. I used to think that politics in Scotland was a bit more sophisticated and engaged than what we have down here. But no. When you have an established party able to crush all before it, you get the same old politics wherever you live.
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