Winter 2008 Volume 12 Issue 4
CONTINUE THE DEBATE ONLINE What is Britainâ€™s place in the world? Visit the new Young Fabians website www.youngfabians.org.uk
CONTENTS Achieving the MDGs
Volume 12, Issue 4
Anticipations, like all publications of the Fabian Society and the Young Fabians, represents not the collective view of the Society, but only the views of the individuals whose articles it comprises.
YOUNG FABIAN EXECUTIVE Profiles of the new team Pages 6 to 9
MDGs UPPING THE ANTI Sarah Hague Economic Advisor, Save the Children
The responsibility of the Society is limited to approving its publications as worthy of consideration within the Labour movement.
Page 11 MATERNAL INSTINCT Kari Mawhood Page 15 TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION Omar Salem Page 17
Published by The Fabian Society: 11 Dartmouth Street, London, SW1H 9BN Telephone: 0207 227 4900 Facsimile: 0207 976 7153 www.fabian-society.org.uk and www.youngfabians.org.uk Printed by: Caric Press Ltd Lionheart Close, Bearwood, Bournemouth, Dorset BH11 9UB The editor would like to thank: Sarah Hague and Save The Children
NIGERIA: A PERSONAL ACCOUNT Heather Alcock
POVERTY GAP Ian Ross
POVERTY OF AMBITION Kunal Khatri
DOWN ON THE DUMPS Dan Whittle
OTHER SIGNED, SEALED & DELIVERED Adrian Prandle on the US election trip Pages 24 and 25
Images from www.sxc.hu used throughout this publication, although copyright remains the authors’ own.
ACTION FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA Claire Leigh and David Chaplin Pages 26 and 27
FROM THE EDITOR
Alex Baker email@example.com
o somehow I’ve managed to land another year of editing this august publication! Over the last four issues we’ve tried to up our game a bit, and make Anticipations a journal our members can be truly proud of. And you appear to have responded by continuing to supply high quality articles which contribute to debate in the journal, which now nestle amongst more articles from politicians, policy professionals and other opinion formers. This year will be no different - more of the same, and some other stuff too. We will continue to distribute the magazine to Labour MPs, Special Advisers to ministers, and others. We will continue to encourage as broad a range of submissions as possible, across a range of important topics over the course of the year. And we will continue to try and make the presentation of debate as visually stunning as possible. But in addition to all that, we will try and increase the amount of content which goes on our website - www. youngfabians.org.uk. So look out for more podcasts, for instance. Plus, we’re investigating the possibility of adapting the format of Anticipations to allow for more frequent ‘mini’ web publications in between the full print editions. The keen eyed amongst you may
In these credit crunched times, we’ve taken an austere look at design and economised on columns. Last issue there were four per page. This year only three. That’s column deflation for you.
also notice that there has been a slight redesign of the journal. In these credit crunched times, we’ve taken an austere look at design and economised on columns. Last issue there were four per page. This year only three. That’s column deflation for you. Part of the rationale for the redesign is based on feedback some of you provided over the last year (we really do care what you think). If you have any thoughts about ways in which Anticipations could be improved (design, or otherwise), then you should feel free to share it with me. Any feedback we receive will be taken on board the next time we tinker about underneath the bonnet. Contributing to future editions This issue of Anticipations relates to the Millenium Development Goals, or MDGs. Are they being achieved? Can they be met, either at home or abroad? We have received a range of submissions on the topic, including an article from Sarah Hague, Economic Advisor to Save The Children. Later this year, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen to decide on a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol. With Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency of the United States, there is a real chance that America will now show some leadership on the issue of climate change, and that the new settlement will be both ambitious and allencompassing. So in the next issue of Anticipations, we will focus on green issues. Primarily, we will focus on the replacement to Kyoto - what should it look like? what specific commitments should countries sign up to? How do we get India and China to agree to such a deal? What are the consequences of failing to act? What steps will individuals have to take to ensure any new targets can be
met? Whichever angle you wish to take, there is bound to be room in Anticipations for your views. And if there are other green issues you are passionate about, then there will be room for your submissions. In order to contribute to the debate, send an email with your article idea to firstname.lastname@example.org. Final article submissions will need to be with us by Friday 13th March 2009. If there are other non-green issues which you want to write about, then we can usually accomodate contributions which don’t explicitly relate to main theme. The procedure for article acceptance is the same as listed above. On a less positive note, in the run up to publication of recent issues of Anticipations, it has become very frustrating with the number of people who have articles commissioned but who then do not submit anything. Please bear in mind that the Young Fabian Executive, unlike the Executive of the main society, is voluntary - we all have day jobs and squeeze the running of the Young Fabians into our spare time. Please try and make sure you’ll have sufficient time to complete an article if you are commissioned to do one. Ta. And while we’re on the topic of the Executive, you can read profiles of your new Executive on the pages that follow. However, you should visit the website for more extended versions of the profiles reproduced here. Finally, Sam - our erstwhile Web Editor - has been very busy over the winter months putting the finishing touches to a brand new Young Fabian blog. Over time there will be an increasing amount of content published on the blog, so make sure you add it to your RSS feed/aggregator, or promote it on your MyFace and SpaceBook. You’ll find the blog at www.youngfabians. org.uk/blog.
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
FROM THE CHAIRS
Incoming Chair: Kate Grocuutt email@example.com
his is my first column as Chair and I would like to start by thanking outgoing Chair Mark Rusling for his hard work and commitment to the Young Fabians over several years. The Young Fabians had a fantastic year in 2008 with nearly 40 events, a trip to the US to campaign for Barack Obama and four excellent editions of Anticipations – the new Executive have a hard act to follow! One of my priorities as Chair is to give you more opportunities to get involved with our activities. I know it is difficult for members who live outside London to attend events in the capital (just as it is hard for a London-based Executive to organise things outside London) so I want to extend the ways we can communicate. Our new website gives us facilities to do this, and we will extend our use of podcasts and blogs. We will also carry out another membership survey, this time asking you more about your views on policy issues. As a General Election approaches, and with the economic crisis dominating political discourse, it is more important than ever that those of us on the left have a space in which to debate and share ideas. Active involvement in the Young Fabians can be a rewarding, stimulating and not least fun experience, so I would encourage all of you, whether an old or new member, to get more involved this year. That could be through writing for this publication, coming to an event or even organising an event yourself. We’re always looking for new ideas so please get in touch. On the political front, 2009 looks to be an important year. With disagreement between Labour and the Tories over how to respond to the international financial crisis, there is an opportunity for a clear centre-left agenda in economic policy. Domestically, major
reforms to welfare, equality legislation and the criminal justice system will be hotly debated in Parliament, while at an international level the Lisbon Treaty, the continued presence of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the crises in the Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe all deserve our attention. Our programme of events will capture these important issues, as well as looking at what lessons Labour can learn from the Obama campaign. The theme of this issue of Anticipations serves to remind us that our international responsibilities do not disappear in an economic downturn. Even though times are tough for many families in the UK, we cannot forget the millions of people in developing countries who rely on our aid, investment and continued support for reform. I hope that during 2009 we as Fabians can play our part in helping Labour articulate a progressive vision at home and around the world, which will take us to a historic fourth term in Government. From the outgoing chair Mark Rusling 2008 started with a 5% average Conservative lead over Labour, and ended with an average lead of 4%. Yet, clearly, these bare facts mask an extraordinary year. In January 2008, the political momentum was with David Cameron. The Prime Minister was Mr Bean, the Labour Party was broke and the Cabinet had gone AWOL. By August, the Conservatives averaged a 19% lead, with the Cameron-Osborne Axis of Eton holding a 10% lead in economic trustworthiness over Brown and Darling. Four months later, the credit crunch had moved from the board room to the living room. Yet, the supposed PM-elect appeared to have no answer to the problems affecting every house-
hold in Britain. The public started to doubt whether the Axis was ready to run the country through its toughest times in 70 years. The brave decision to bring back Peter Mandelson showed that Labour was again up for the fight. To address the credit crunch, most expert opinion believed that an economic stimulus would be required from the government. More importantly, politically, the US Presidentelect agreed. The Tories were planted firmly on the ideological back foot, and the public sensed it. Labour bounced back, and the Prime Minister’s personal standing revived. By December 2008, Labour was polling 35% - the level at which party strategists believe that we are truly ‘back in the game’. This recovery is fragile, and the political effects of an ever-deepening recession are unpredictable. However, the momentum is now with Labour, and we have to prove that we are worthy of it. Those who are worst-hit by the recession will be those who bear the least responsibility for it. We are committed to helping these people, which contrasts with the ‘yes it hurt, yes it worked’ donothingism of the Axis. Now we need to get out on the doorstep to make our case. The Young Fabians have a key role to play in the Labour revival. A political movement is only as good as its ideas and activism, and the YFs have bucketloads of both. In the past year, we have made our ideas heard on the next Labour manifesto and made our footsteps heard on doorsteps across the UK. And, of course, Barack Obama would not be the President-elect were it not for our efforts in Ohio! Thank you for the opportunity to be YF Chair, and thank you to the Executive. Best of luck to this year’s team!
YOUNG FABIAN EXECUTIVE 2008-9 In November 2008, you elected 12 members to Young Fabian Executive for the forthcoming year. In January, a further 5 members were co-opted. Here were introduce the entire Executive team for 2008-9. Visit our website at: www.youngfabians.org.uk for more extensive profiles
KATE GROUCUTT, CHAIR firstname.lastname@example.org This is Kate’s fifth year on the Young Fabian Executive and she was previously social secretary, secretary and vice chair. During her term as Chair, Kate will ensure the Young Fabians continue to provide an excellent range of seminars, debates, publications and social activities for our members. If anybody would like to discuss anything connected with the Young Fabians’ work, or would like to collaborate with the Young Fabians, please contact Kate. EMMA CARR, VICE-CHAIR email@example.com Emma is looking forward to a busy year as one of two Vice-Chairs on the Executive this year. She intends to launch a range of new initiatives that will make the Young Fabians more relevant, more sustainable and more transparent. Following her years as media officer, editor of Anticipations editor and Secretary, Emma hopes to further develop the way the Young Fabian executive interacts with, communicates with and involves the Young Fabian members. DAVID CHAPLIN VICE-CHAIR firstname.lastname@example.org David is delighted to have elected as one of two Vice-Chairs on the Executive this year. As Vice-Chair David will be continuing his work from last year organising the Young Fabian policy commissions and will be creating new opportunities for Young Fabian members to have an impact on policy discussions within Government and the Labour movement. David will be working with Young Fabian members on strengthening internal democracy within the Young Fabians and making the Executive more accountable to members. RICHARD MESSINGHAM, TREASURER email@example.com Richard has been a member of the Young Fabian executive for a number of years. He recently organised events in Parliament on the US elections, getting your opinion in print and how to get a job in politics. He has also organised two recent Young Fabian Pub Quiz’s, and is looking forward to organising further events for Young Fabians that both inform and entertain.
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
REBECCA RENNISON, SECRETARY firstname.lastname@example.org This is Rebecca’s fourth year on the Executive. So far she has organised three Boat Parties, reinstated the Young Fabian summer school, and managed the Young Fabian accounts. As Secretary Rebecca will improve the weekly update and further develop use of our Facebook account. Rebecca also wants to organise the following events: an event to mark the ten year anniversary of Labour’s commitment to End Child Poverty; events for Young Fabian women to try and encourage more women to engage with the Young Fabians and the annual Boat Party. SAM STRUDWICK, WEB EDITOR email@example.com Last year Sam developed a brand new website at www.youngfabians.org.uk. It features all the latest news and events from the Young Fabians including details of our policy work, Anticipations, Policy News and our podcasts. This year Sam will be working to build on the success of the website and get the Young Fabians messages and ideas out to as wide an audience as possible. Sam hopes to ensure Young Fabians use the website as a tool to drive discussion and engagement, including the use of a new blog. DAN WHITTLE, TRADE UNION & ELECTIONS OFFICER firstname.lastname@example.org Dan is Director of the progressive unions think tank Unions21 and a parliamentary researcher in the office of Anne Snelgrove MP. Over the next year on the executive, Dan hopes to develop and enhance the relationship between the Young Fabians and trade unions over the coming year and assist the campaigning work Young Fabian members of the Labour Party do for the European Parliamentary and General Elections. JAMES GREEN, TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT OFFICER email@example.com James was co-opted to the Young Fabian Executive for 2007/08 as Schools Project Officer. This year, as Training and Development Officer, James will set up a Young Fabians Candidates Network to provide training and networking opportunities for Labour candidates across the country. James is also planning a number of events throughout the year that that will address key themes in British politics ADRIAN PRANDLE, INTERNATIONAL OFFICER firstname.lastname@example.org Adrian was co-opted to the Executive last year and organised and led the Young Fabian/Labour Staff Network delegation to Barack Obama’s campaign in the swing state of Ohio. As International Officer, he is now coordinating follow-up work to capitalise on the experience the group had and ensure that the ideas and enthusiasm from that successful campaign are brought into Labour campaigns across the UK. He is planning a series of embassy events and will be leading on developing the Young Fabians role in the European elections.
CLAIRE LEIGH, POLICY & PUBLICATIONS OFFICER email@example.com Claire works as a strategy advisor for the Government, specialising in foreign policy. As Policy and Publications Officer Claire will seek to connect the policy work of the Young Fabians with that of the wider policy-making community, building up our relationship with think tanks, policy makers and academics and keeping our members informed of the best ideas emerging from across the spectrum of the commentariat. Claire will also build on the success of the new Young Fabians publication ‘Policy News’. TOM STOATE, PARLIAMENTARY OFFICER firstname.lastname@example.org Tom was elected to the Young Fabian executive in 2008 as Parliamentary Officer. He has previously been involved with Young Fabian events on campaigning against the BNP and winning the European Elections. Tom is a researcher and speechwriter in David Lammy MP’s office, having previously worked for the Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman MP. In 2008, Tom worked on Barack Obama’s primary and general election campaigns in various parts of the USA, and is keen to implement some of the lessons for the left. ALEX BAKER, EDITOR OF ANTICIPATIONS email@example.com This is Alex’s second year as Editor of Anticipations. This year Alex will build on improvements to Anticipations in recent years, and aim to publish four editions with high quality articles from Young Fabian members alongside contributions from leading opinion formers, politicians, and policy professionals. Alex will also work with Sam to examine ways of bringing the Young Fabians into the information age and maximise the opportunities for the Young Fabian members to engage in debate. PRETH RAO, EQUALITIES OFFICER (CO-OPTED) firstname.lastname@example.org This is Preth’s first year on the Executive having been co-opted to the new position of equalities officer. She will be ensuring that all of the Young Fabian activities are inclusive and accessible and reflect the needs and preferences of all members. She hopes to increase the diversity of the membership, to encourage new people to stand for executive positions, ensure that policy commissions and publications reflect equality considerations and to organise events for members on equality. STEVE RACE, SCHOOLS PROJECT OFFICER (CO-OPTED) email@example.com This is Steve’s first year on the Executive having been co-opted onto to the position of Schools Project Officer. Steve hopes to use his prior experience administering several widening participation schemes at The University of Manchester to build on the project in order to provide an opportunity for ever more schools to access Fabian Society materials and ideas to help young people understand better the possibilities that politics can provide for our society and for individuals.
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
KUNAL KHATRI, SOCIAL SECRETARY (CO-OPTED) firstname.lastname@example.org This is Kunal’s first year on the Young Fabian Executive. He was co-opted to the position of Social Secretary. As Social Secretary Kunal wants to improve the Young Fabians’ outreach to its members, and to provide more laid back social activities for people to relax and meet like minded friends. He also wants to host more events in collaboration with organisations and employers that we share a common purpose and goal with. SUSAN NASH, REGIONS & UNIVERSITIES OFFICER (CO-OPTED) email@example.com Susan is delighted to have been co-opted onto the Executive as Regions & Universities officer. She is keen to build up Young Fabian groups within the regions and on campuses, and support existing groups. A key area Susan is keen to develop is building on the relationships with other existing student societies on campus in hosting shared events and campaigns, and she will utilise her links within Labour Students and NUS to ensure the Young Fabians has a increasing presence outside London, or on your campus. SARA IBRAHIM, WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (CO-OPTED) firstname.lastname@example.org Text here.
Pop your blogs. youngfabians.org.uk/blog
It is not in the United Nations that the Millennium Development Goals will be achieved. They have to be achieved in each of its Member States, by the joint efforts of their governments and people.
Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
n 2001, 192 countries and 23 international organisations agreed to work towards a set of ambitious international development goals by 2015. This eight goals were labelled the ‘Millenium Development Goals’, or ‘MDGs’. Progress towards this target has since been uneven, and will be made more challenging given recent economic events.
Nonetheless, as progressive global aspirations, we thought it worthwile to check in on the MDGs. To ask whether or not they are achievable? What needs to be done in order to ensure they are? And we to identify the importance of the goals to men, women and children across the world. We also recognise that progress needs to be made at home, as well as abroad. This collection of articles covers topics as diverse as maternal health, climate change, and of course, poverty. We also welcome a special contribution from Sarah Hague, Economic Advisor at Save The Children.
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
UPPING THE ANTI
An effective anti-povety strategy is the key to achieving other development goals, argues Sarah Hague
Sarah Hague Economic Advisor, Save The Children savethechildren.org.uk
t’s easy to spout statistics when it comes to the Millennium Development Goals. Intangible figures trip off the tongue. But look at the reality. Right now there’s a child dying in Sierra Leone of an entirely preventable, curable illness like diarrhea. At Save the Children we confront this brutal reality on a daily basis in our work. So what are the numbers? Currently 9.2 million children die every year before they reach their fifth birthday. It’s a staggering number. And the vast majority of these deaths occur in developing countries. By 2015, these countries are supposed to have curbed the number of children dying by two thirds. It’s a bold and commendable target, but one that is proving hard for most countries to reach. As it stands, only seven countries are on track to meet the goal and at the current rate of progress it won’t be achieved until 2045. That’s too long, and equates to far too many children’s lives. While overall there has been a significant reduction in the child mortality rate in recent years, there are still many countries lagging behind. So what, in real, pragmatic terms needs to be done? To point the finger at a single issue would be to deny the complexity of the problem. At the most basic level, children are dying of preventable diseases like malaria. Over a third of the children dying are malnournished. And the overwhelming majority are from the poorest families. To put it bluntly: if you are a child born into a poor household in a poor country your chances are slim. More specifically than that, your chances of survival are dramatically reduced if you are born in certain parts of the world such as Sub-Saharan Africa, or South Asia. This is hardly surprising. But it would be unfair to oversimplify these complex regions. Some countries, thanks to progressive, pro-poor and child focused policies - such as Malawi
or Bangladesh - buck the trend. While others, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo or Niger, can offer little hope for the well-being and future of their children. Complex political and post-conflict situations, as in the DRC, can greatly reduce the already limited chance of a child’s survival. And it’s not just the future of the children at stake, but also that of the country into which they are born. The human and moral case for encouraging child survival is clear, but there is also a crucial economic benefit. Save the Children’s own research shows that, on average, a 5% improvement in child mortality rates raises economic growth by 1 percentage point per year over the following decade. Reducing child mortality carries financial weight. Not only that, the correlation between a decrease in child mortality and family size is clear. If fewer of their children are likely to die, women do not feel the pressure to have more. This in turn reaps huge benefit for the welfare and income of the family. So it’s clear that child mortality is a multi-layered problem. There is no magic cure. But that doesn’t mean it’s not eminently possible to achieve the Millennium Development Goal. It’s clearly not enough for a government to hand out mosquito nets without addressing the fundamental inequities in its country’s society. And it’s also not enough for a government to champion economic growth without ensuring that the poorest families are able to participate and reap the rewards from it. There has to be a balance of short-term strategies tackling the immediate causes of death and longer-term poverty reduction and growth. The areas where concerted effort and commitment would make a demonstrable difference to child mortality are clear. One devastatingly neglected issue is malnutrition, which kills 3.5 million
children every year. This should become a central development objective for poor countries - and for the donors and multilateral organisations. It must be prioritised not only in pragmatic terms, supporting supplement schemes in communities and breastfeeding programmes, but also by actually getting a handle on the scale of the problem. That means improving data collection and reporting more thoroughly on the impact of the work taking place. Malnutrition stunts children, both physically and cognitively. Its effects are long-lasting and will play out through the course of their life: a malnourished child has a much higher risk of death, is less likely to perform well at school, and has less chance of earning an adequate and sustainable income. An increase in national investment in fighting child malnutrition would therefore have a clear and tangible impact on child mortality rates. But it is not enough on its own. Governments have to look at the full picture - and look at the specific data of their own country to pinpoint the key areas and sections of the population that need the most concentrated attention. It will undoubtedly be the poorest sector of society that is suffering the most. An effective anti-poverty strategy is the foundation on which the other policies can be built. To curb the millions of unnecessary deaths taking place every year, developing and implementing that strategy must come first. Let’s not forget though that with the right combination of policies, dramatic reductions in the numbers of children dying every year are feasible. We’ve already seen reductions over the last ten years, we’ve seen certain countries make commendable strides towards meeting the target, and we know the policies that will make the major difference. Now it’s a question of political ambition and will to make it work.
POVERTY OF AMBITION
International institutions need to do more to combine efforts on tackling poverty and climate change, believes Kunal Khatri
Kunal Khatri Social Events Officer, Young Fabian Executive email@example.com
limate change will make the challenge of eradicating poverty drastically harder. According to the Stern report, climate change induced events including declining agricultural production, heat waves, droughts, flooding, biodiversity loss, disease spread and soil erosion could consume up to 20% of global GDP. But these costs will not be shared evenly. There will be a clear and disproportionate burden on the poorest countries. Though formulated five years prior to the Stern report, the Millennium Development Goals explicitly recognised this risk. Target 7, ensuring environmental sustainability, contains the specific intent to ‘integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes.’ Even with a 90% cut in carbon emissions in developed countries, developing countries must also cut emissions to keep global warming below 2oC. The UNFCCC Bali action plan adopted in 2007 echoed this sentiment, and charged the world’s Multilateral Development Banks with a lead role in this task. The World Bank Group is ideally suited to this challenge, and has been a leader in calling for environmental sustainability. However, according to a report published this year by the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, the institution ‘has yet to internalise sufficiently the environmental challenge in its operations [and] continues to give low de facto priority to the goal of enhancing the environmental sustainability of development.’ In the particular field of energy, one of the largest contributors of CO2, almost 50% of World Bank Group lending was made without any attention to climate change at all. There are several reasons for this failure. First there is the antipathy of the Bush administration to the issue of climate change. The US is the World Bank Group’s dominant shareholder,
nominates the President, and shapes Bank policy. The former Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, with his close ties to the administration, was unsurprisingly hostile to the climate change agenda. The former chief scientist at the Bank, Robert Watson, even accused Wolfowitz of watering down references to climate change in early drafts of the Clean Energy Investment Framework which was born out of the Gleneagles G8 communiqué. Secondly, there is a lack of incentives or mechanisms within the World Bank Group to incorporate the climate change agenda into project development or appraisal. Furthermore, energy department staff in the Multilateral Development Banks are often from an engineering background, and lack the capacity and skills to inventively address the risks and opportunities of climate change. Thirdly, and most importantly, there has been lukewarm interest from donor-recipient countries to this agenda. There is a fear of the knock on effects of climate change politics on development priorities. With this comes the baiting of industrialised countries to take on a greater share of the responsibility to tackle the issue. As troubling however, is that many willing developing countries lack the capacity to account for the climate change impact of their development choices and implement the appropriate response. In overcoming the first two problems, there is hope in Wolfowitz’s replacement Robert Zoellick, and a pending Democrat Presidency and Congress. Within the Bank nevertheless, there has to be a revision of incentives to encourage more cross-sectoral approaches to environmental support, along with a concomitant strengthening of staff skills to realise this. Guidelines for country and sector strategies also need to explicitly integrate climate change considera-
tions upstream in project development, as well as the vulnerability of projects to climate change variability. Indeed in late 2007 the World Bank Group began developing a Strategic Framework on Climate Change and Development which explored radical new ideas such as the inclusion of a carbon ‘shadow price’ to allow managers to integrate the costs of climate change into project development. It is an innovation that some private sector banks are already implementing. As for donor-recipient disinterest, there must be no resort to ‘green conditionality’ on investment. The World Bank Group must instead emphasise the common ground between climate change adaptation/mitigation and poverty reduction programmes. Both rely primarily on strengthening local institutional networks and facilitating a process of community empowerment and self-sustainability. The Clean Development Mechanism for instance, which finances emission reduction projects in developing countries, invests in numerous small scale rural renewable energy projects which provide a poverty benefit from enterprise development, access to clean water, and improved health, education and gender benefits. Multilateral Development Banks have a duty to create an institutional environment, encompassing local government and civil society organisations, in which such locally accountable initiatives can be more effective and ultimately scaled up. Failure to mainstream climate change concerns will render current efforts to eradicate poverty utterly futile. Robert Zoellick warned the Bali conference that ‘climate change policies cannot be the frosting on the cake of development; they must be baked into the recipe of growth and social development.’ The signs are that his message has not yet been heeded.
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
Devolution has made efforts to tackle child poverty less coherent , argues Ian Ross
Ian Ross Member of the Young Fabians
ever before has child poverty been so high on a UK Government’s agenda. But devolution and differing policy initiatives have resulted in remarkable differences between tackling the issue in England and Wales, and in the devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As the policy gap widens between these four nations, is it possible that the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020 might be missed? In 1999, the Labour Government committed itself to halving child poverty by 2010 (compared to 1997 levels) and eradicating it by 2020. Following devolution and the establishment of the Welsh Assembly Government, these targets were also adopted in Wales. The most widely used measure of child poverty in the UK is the proportion of children living in households with less than 60% of the median income. In 2006/07, 29% of children in Wales were in this category, compared to 30% of children in England. Since devolution, the Welsh Assembly Government has implemented its own policy initiatives to tackle child poverty, through which it will contribute to the UK Government’s targets as a whole. Despite policy areas such as taxation and welfare being decided in Westminster, Wales often leads Eng-
Devolution has resulted in remarkable differences between appraoches to tackle child poverty in England and Wales, and in the devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As the policy gap widens between these four nations, is it possible that the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020 might be missed?
land in terms of policy outcomes. An example is the Flying Start programme, which launched in 2006 and is targeted at young children aged 0-3. Flying Start aims to improve outcomes for children in deprived catchment areas, by preparing them for school as well as for the longer term. The centrepiece of Flying Start is good quality, free part-time childcare for two year olds. Between 2006 and 2008, Flying Start helped over 16,000 children. Similar measures have recently been announced in England, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlining ambitious plans for every two-year old to receive a free nursery place over the next ten years. Eventually the scheme could involve up to 600,000 children each year. Wales’ access to European Union Structural Funds allows it to fund extra projects to complement Government expenditure on child poverty. Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds are funds allocated by the EU for two supporting the poorer regions of Europe. This has made a major difference to Wales and resulted in a project known as Genesis Wales, which helped to remove barriers to employment and decrease child poverty. The recent announcement of further EU funding amounting to £35.9m over the next six years will allow another similar project, Genesis Cymru Wales 2, which will concentrate on those harder to reach. Free school breakfasts were another Labour Welsh Assembly Government initiative, rolled out in 2004. The aim was to provide all children with high nutritional breakfasts, such as fruit and cereal, to maximise their performance at school. The Tories argued the breakfasts were a ‘sham’ and that children were better off having breakfast at home. The Tories here missed the point that child poverty is often the consequence of circumstances at home.
The Welsh Assembly Government’s Children and Young People Committee conducted an inquiry into child poverty throughout 2008. Whilst the Welsh Assembly Government was praised for its ideas and innovative policies, it is clear that there is a stronger need for a more coherent strategic approach. The report also revealed that 28% of secondary school children entitled to free school meals do not take them up as they see it as an embarrassment. The Committee has recommended many policies, for instance that the Welsh Assembly Government consider piloting universal free school meals. So where does the future lie with differing child poverty policies? I believe we will see further policy digressions between the UK and devolved Governments. One might argue that with devolved Governments continuously seeking to roll out the best initiatives to tackle child poverty, best practice and watching each other’s progress of policies will lead to the most efficient policy outcomes. On the other hand, such differing policies and widening policy gaps might lead to some of the devolved governments achieving the target of eradicating child poverty, whilst others do not. In 2006 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimated that the government would need to spend £4bn to halve child poverty by 2010 and a further £28bn to eradicate it over the subsequent decade. These amounts are small change in comparison to recent bank bail-outs. Labour is making a tremendous effort towards tackling child poverty. I strongly believe with the view that a more strategic co-ordinated approach is essential between Westminster and devolved Governments if Labour is to go down in history as the Party who kept the promise of a generation and ended child poverty.
NIGERIA: A PERSONAL ACCOUNT
Heather Alcock is currently working in Nigeria
igeria, the “giant of Africa” is without doubt a country of extremes: an estimated 54% of men, women and children live on less than 1$ a day, while apartments in its capital Abuja rent for hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. The social consequences of inequality are shown in the high rate of violent crime and gated compounds of Nigeria’s elite. Despite being the world’s fifth largest oil producer, the profits have brought little benefit to communities within the oil producing regions, (with billions being siphoned off by the federal government and multinational oil companies) and there are frequent fuel shortages within the country. Neighbouring states of Benin and Ghana enjoy twenty-four hour electricity supplied by Nigeria, whilst its own citizens face unpredictable rations and often go for days without power. The rate of unemployment is currently 18%, which has led to a growing disaffection among young people. Health care is at best piecemeal, and people often have to travel miles to reach substandard government hospitals, only to be charged a month’s salary for drugs which may or may not be fake. The MDGs are necessarily ambitious and attempt to address many of these problems, and there is some cause for optimism as both my experience and the evidence from the latest MDG progress report can prove. I am currently volunteering with a community based organisation in Lagos that provides care and support for people who are affected by HIV and AIDS. The impact of free anti-retroviral drugs (which were made available in 2005) has been phenomenal: clients who had previously been unable to afford treatment are now able to live healthy
and fulfilling lives. On a national level, HIV prevalence rates have fallen from 5- 4%, and Nigeria looks set to meet the goal of universal primary education by 2015. Economic growth has averaged at around 6% per year since 2000 with the non-oil sector serving as the key driver. But immense challenges remain: it is easy enough to build extra classrooms and primary health care centres, but it is more difficult to address the quality of services that will be delivered in these buildings and invest time and money into training staff. Many donors (and indeed governments themselves) talk of the need to “build capacity” but their project cycles rarely allow the time for this to actually occur, nor do they address some of the structural factors which underlie these problems such as poor motivation and pay of staff. Money from debt relief has used to deliver in-service training for 145,000 teachers, but this is only a beginning. In other goals such as environment, the challenges are even tougher and require collaboration of many actors: although the highly polluting practice of gas flaring has been reduced, the government admits that 34% of gas was still flared in 2007. Corruption, although often exaggerated by the western media remains
“ It is easy enough to build extra classrooms and primary health care centres, but it is more difficult to address the quality of services that will be delivered in these buildings and invest time and money into training staff.
endemic, as I witness daily when bus drivers choose to “dash” police officers who stop their vehicles rather than sit through lengthy questionings on the roadside. Life in Nigeria is not easy and the developmental challenges require vast amounts of commitment and resources from the public, private sectors and civil society but the evidence shows that things are moving in the right directionalbeit at a frustratingly slow pace. Moreover, if Nigeria fails to deliver there is an increasingly powerful group of civil society actors ready to hold its leaders up to scrutiny. Sources: MDGs in Nigeria Mid-point assessment overview, September 2008 Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the MDGs, Nigeria
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ACHIEVING THE MDGs
More progress needs to be made in empowering women in poorer countries, and providing adequate healthcare, argues Kari Mawhood
Kari Mawhood Member of the Young Fabians
he adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 saw an unprecedented global commitment to human values and rights, including the right to health. Millennium Development Goal 5, to improve maternal health, has seen extremely limited progress. Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high, with over 500,000 women a year dying from pregnancy or childbirth; of which 99% occur in the developing world. Maternal morbidities - illnesses or conditions contracted as a result of pregnancy - affect an estimated 10 to 15 million more women, every year. The statistics are shocking; in sub-Saharan Africa a womanâ€™s risk of dying from pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 22, compared with 1 in 7,300 in the developed world. More than 80% of maternal deaths are due to five, mainly preventable, causes, namely: haemorrhage, sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labour and hypertension. Little progress has been made since 1990 on maternal death rates. The 2008 United Nations MDG Report states that globally maternal death rates fell by less than 1% a year between 1990 and 2005 - far below the 5.5% annual reduction needed to achieve the Goal 5. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest maternal death rates, levels of progress have been negligible. There are many reasons for this lack of progress, Firstly, in order to improve maternal health and reduce maternal death rates a number of health interventions have been proven to be effective. Skilled attendance at delivery is key to improving maternal and newborn health. There has been an increase in the proportion of births attended by skilled health workers, but again, South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have seen the lowest coverage. As well as skilled health workers, proper equip-
ment and medicines, the ability to refer complicated cases to emergency obstetric care services and the road and transport infrastructure to transfer women in labour, are essential. Adolescent fertility rates are also key, as girls aged 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their twenties, while girls under 15 are five times as likely to die. Child marriage is a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is illegal in many countries. Some countries are making concerted efforts to stop child marriage. For example, the Government of Ethiopia, with the support of the First Lady, launched the Stop Child Marriage campaign in 2008 to raise awareness of the dangers associated with early marriage and enforce the child marriage law. Another key intervention is to enable women to choose the number and spacing of their children. The risk of maternal deaths increases with each pregnancy, yet 205 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy have no access to contraception services. In addition, each year an estimated 19 million unsafe abortions take place in the developing world, resulting in nearly 70,000 deaths. By meeting unmet need for contraception alone, up to a third of maternal deaths worldwide would be avoided. In 2007 the UN adopted a new target under MDG 5 to achieve by 2015 universal access to reproductive health, recognising the importance of these services to maternal health. However, many governments are unaware of this additional target and global funding to reproductive health has fallen over recent years whilst development funding overall has risen substantially. The current global economic slowdown poses a challenge and a threat to development and specifically donor commitments. Several large donors
have already announced cuts to development funding. The UK Government has restated its commitment to achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GNI to development by 2013 which is welcome, but DfID must pressure other Governments to stick to their funding promises too. As there is no single formula for improving maternal health, health systems must be strengthened. DfID is currently focussing on increasing health worker numbers, as well as access to Emergency Obstetric Care, reproductive health services and contraception. Long term predictable funding is essential if health systems are to be strengthened. The International Health Partnership is making aid for health more effective. In addition, the focus needs to be on specific health interventions that are known to have a high impact on maternal health. For example, the availability of magnesium sulphate to treat eclampsia and misoprostol for post partum haemorrhage are proven technologies that prevent maternal deaths and morbidities. The UK Government has been a high level advocate for maternal and sexual and reproductive health and rights. This focus must be maintained. We need donor governments to look at scientifically proven interventions and speak up on controversial issues such as unsafe abortion, contraceptive use and female genital mutilation - which also has an adverse impact on maternal heath. Most women will give birth at sometime in their lives. It remains a scandal that so many women in developing countries face a very real chance of death or serious medical complications for lack of basic medical care. We must value these women more and do everything we can to empower them and their governments to improve maternal health services.
Chris Green Member of the Young Fabians
chadenfreude is an unwelcome and unhealthy emotion but I must confess feeling it when pictures of city workers were splashed across the papers earlier this year having, many through no fault of their own, lost their employment because of the current credit crisis. Hardly fair or right to gain such enjoyment or pleasure out of any individual suffering but was there not a small irony to see many of these, in the words of Tom Wolfe, self styled “masters of the universe” bought to heel by the very system of international capital that they so believed in? Strands of this feeling were evident, in the early days, amongst the commentariat, (Max Hastings in the Guardian 15 Sept acknowledged that “ordinary mortals who live outside the financial community [felt] delight at the humbling of the masters”) with the consensus that the large financial bonuses enjoyed by city workers, often for short term, and risky, profit making investments, was a large part of the overall problem. Is this a sentiment that Young Fabians should agree with? Should we also agree with the consequential notion that something should be done about it as part of overall reforms to the city/financial system and as part of the fight against poverty? When commenting on this issue many of left seem to swaddle whatever they say with a veneer of the politics of envy. The “rent a quote” appearances on the news channels by many a trade union general secretary over this issue being one example. In order to ensure that something positive comes out of this situation we as Fabians need to avoid such similar downfalls and approach from a more rational and less emotional platform. From my own personal standpoint I have generally rallied against the
leftish feeling that there should be imposed limits on earnings (and therefore city bonuses). I generally find such ideas unpalatable. Working in the public sector my wage is of course limited to what the government decides to pay me but I am free, if I choose, to work wherever I want to, and thus take the pay that comes with this choice. I would find it hard therefore to deny this choice to others. The recent travails have highlighted to me the possible errors in this thinking. The choice to earn is not matched with equality of opportunity. Even though, as reported by the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit in November, positive change has started to occur in social mobility indicators since 2000, there are still many in the UK buffeted by economic and social barriers out of their control (such as the inequality inherited wealth confers) and destined to remain at low income. We must also take into account that the displacing of city money also has many negative side effects - the prime one being the huge inflation of house prices over the last few years. This more than anything is a hurdle for those trying to work their way up in society. What then to be done, for whilst we must not and cannot restrict one’s right to earn (let us not forget that capitalism, with all its many inequalities, is still the best generator of wealth and that high earners will generally pay large amounts of tax) is it not time for a new standpoint from the Government on these bonuses? Especially now after Labour has committed so much public money into many of the UK top Banks. The leverage that comes with the bail out should give the Treasury a stick to which to tame the bankers
with – though we have seen how useful this stick was in regards to them passing on interest rates cut. The Chancellor has also made noises on this issue which included putting the onus on the FSA to tackle “the culture of huge bonuses” in the City whilst speaking at Labour Party conference. Does it not require more? For alongside economic tinkering this is also a strategic political issue. The person on the street, having noted that the banks have got themselves into this position, and that they have been bailed out by the government, is hardly likely to take reports of multi million bonuses lying down. The results of their unhappiness is likely to be felt in the ballot box - not by votes for the opposition, for their roots in the city and orthodoxy give them little room at all in this situation, but by not turning up at all. In order to show that it still has a “moral compass” should Labour not legislate in this area? Possibly. Peter Hain, whilst Northern Ireland Secretary, noted that there might be avenues away from legislation such as self regulation (though we have seen how little of that there has been in the square mile) or more interestingly donating some of the bonus pot to charities or social enterprises. Could this happen or will legislation be the only way to act? We are now likely to see a taming of the bonus culture anyhow due to the poor performance of the economy. But when the good times do come again, which they will do, would it not be better to have something in place to ensure that such large payments do not lead us down the route we are currently on? In the battle against poverty, do we not, as Fabians, need to the lead the charge against such a repeat and ensure that we make excessive “fat cat” bonuses history?
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
We need to harness the power of technology to better achieve progressive ends, writes Omar Salem
Omar Salem Member of the Young Fabians
e sympathize more with persons contiguous to us, than with persons remote from us: With our acquaintance, than with strangers: With our countrymen, than with foreigners.” Those were the words of the Scottish enlightenment thinker David Hume as he attempted back in the 18th century to understand and define what we really mean when we talk about sympathy, justice and morality. Today, Hume’s insight that we sympathise more with those we can relate to and are near to us continues to be relevant. It takes on new meaning though, as the world becomes closer, more connected and interdependent. Radio, then television and now the internet, Skype, social networking sites, and other so called ‘Web 2.0’ technologies, mean that those on the other side of the world are no longer quite so remote. What these changes mean for how we feel about each other, and act, continues to be debated. It is hoped that people across the globe might understand each other better, co-operate more together and be more at peace. New technologies might lead to a greater propensity for people to make charitable donations or support political movements such as Live Aid, the Jubilee debt campaign and Live 8. They mean the public (and electorate) are more aware of the issues, challenges and suffering in developing countries, as well as of possible solutions. Campaign groups can now reach us not only through traditional media and interactive websites but the more personal route of a friend’s invitation on Facebook (witness the recent groups set up, and rapidly expanded, about the situation in Gaza). For traditional NGOs, there is scope to bring their supporters closer to the results of their giving – those who have donated to a new school might Skype
with its students (perhaps even teaching a class), watch a football match through a webcam, or mentor a student online (using a similar model to Horsesmouth www.horsesmouth.co.uk). Of course this description is open to the charge of optimism – existing divisions may be accentuated rather than healed, tensions could be exacerbated and conflicts stoked. Regardless, new technologies, whilst playing a role in raising awareness and understanding of international development, can also provide practical solutions to development challenges. Governments of developing countries, donor agencies and NGOs can use new technologies to support improved education and healthcare - from “$100 laptops” to solar energy that makes refrigeration of vital vaccinations far easier. New technologies also provide greater scope for developing countries to go beyond ensuring their citizens reach a basic standard of living. In the last decade we have seen new technology allow the growth of new service sectors in developing countries. Almost everyone in the UK has probably spoken to a customer care call centre abroad, and back-office functions such as data processing are increasingly taking place abroad too. Now developing countries have the opportunity to move to offer personalised services (rather than just those to big companies) encompassing many other areas. Website design and support for small businesses and organisations is just one example. As people continue to travel and move around the world, diasporas can do more to support development in their countries of origin. This does not necessarily mean returning “home” with new skills following a spell studying or working abroad, or the sending of remittances (although these provide a vital income flow to many). Diaspo-
ras can now to contribute skills and knowledge through the web, using inexpensive technologies such as Skype. DFID recently launched a new scheme specifically targeted at supporting diaspora organisations to set up volunteering opportunities, and it would be interesting to see how on-the-ground initiatives like this could be combined with good use of technology to ensure relationships built up over a placement can be sustained and developed over the long-term. Politics is also being affected, with the internet and social networking allowing diasporas to influence the politics of their countries of origin more than ever. In short, new technology provides an opportunity to go beyond the debate over the so-called “brain drain” to utilise the interest, resources and ideas of diaspora communities to help change their countries of origin for the better. All of this, of course depends, on some kind of shared conception of what is just and right. New technology provides an opportunity to build a world with stronger shared values, creating a context in which efforts to achieve greater economic justice becomes realisable. Hume put it well when he added to his discussion about how sympathy varies with remoteness, “But notwithstanding this variation of our sympathy, we give the same approbation to the same moral qualities in China as in England.” Today, these moral qualities are embodied in the Millenium Development Goals, spanning vital causes such as an end to poverty and hunger, universal education, environmental sustainability, gender equality, better healthcare and a world that works together. We know what is needed and technology can help us achieve it – so let’s use it.
DOWN ON THE DUMPS
The left need to take action on ‘social dumping’ if it is to make the world a fairer place, suggests Dan Whittle
Dan Whittle Trade Unions & Elections Officer, Young Fabian Executive
ast year, the PM rightly called for a globalisation “that can combine economic dynamism with social justice in a sustainable way” and he called this the key political challenge facing our generation of leaders and politicians. It is easy in a downturn to put the long term, exhausting work of international social justice to one side. People remember Keynes for amongst other things saying: “In the long term, we are all dead.” More of us will live for now, and think solely about the UK home front. We know some of the great injustices in trade are caused by ‘social dumping’ - the export of a product from a country with weak or poorly enforced labour standards to one with higher labour standards. It is a phrase which rightly conjures up the image of millions of tons of goods, such as widescreen tvs or tshirts, being shipped from around the world and dumped on nations like Britain. We know that cheap imported goods come from sweat shops, but yet we still buy them. There is a dark side to our white goods, but in a recession we have other concerns. In Europe people can be dumped, as well as products. Two recent ECJ decisions highlight moves in this direction. In the Laval case the ECJ ruled that unions cannot take action against companies employing imported workers at rates below local workers. In the Ruffert case a Polish contractor was allowed to get away with paying less than half the rate of pay of German workers. It may not be long until other employers exploit the rulings. What links the cheap t-shirts and the underpayment of European workers is that these two forms of social dumping end up on our doorstep, morally and financially. Every Brit who is interested
in protecting the home front, even in the short term, should be supporting moves to improve employment standards abroad; to help relieve some of the pressure on our government and employers to compete. It is in everyone’s interest that we should have genuine competition, rather than a race to the bottom. But how do we stop the UK from becoming a social dump whilst avoiding protectionism? The Co-operative Party’s stance on international development is to see trade as the best tool in the fight against global poverty. They see two areas as key to rebalancing the global trading system: fair trade and trade justice. They also believe that co-operative development can play a major role in bringing millions of people out of poverty. The co-operative model of business puts people, rather than business or governments, at the centre of economic development; empowering them to build their own organisations to bring themselves out of poverty. They are run in a democratic way, through the one member, one vote system. The Fairtrade model is based on certification and labelling initiatives which give consumers the information they need to buy ethically produced products. One of the Fairtrade movement’s ambitions over the next five years is to shift public opinion and consumer lifestyles to make Fairtrade the norm. The problem with both the Fairtrade and co-operative models is that while making a difference to many people’s lives, they are still a relatively small proportion of overall trade. Co-operatives in developing countries sometimes need help in accessing markets, because they can be isolated and may not have the capital to create infrastructure. In a global downturn Fair Trade could falter as consumers go for cheaper brands, and there should be a bigger role for government to help.
I am pleased that the Co-operative Party Youth Committee decided at its last meeting to look at how changing labeling legislation to promote corporate social responsibility might be a possibility. It’s on other people’s minds too. A succession of 10-minute-rule bills have been tabled by backbench MPs looking to give consumers more facts about the animal welfare and nutritional value of food. The UNITE union ran a successful campaign targeting M&S, and asking customers to ‘look behind the label’ at the low standards of employment practices experienced by some workers in the meat industry. Co-op Youth are looking at how to bring these strands together to build a campaign which unites these forces in pushing for a labeling regime that gives consumers real choice and reminds them that even in hard times there is a moral dimension to the consumer choices we make. On the migratory aspects of social dumping, our Labour Euro MPs are saying that if enough left of centre politicians are elected in June next year they can work towards reversing the ECJ decisions as a European Union. Richard Corbett MEP has mooted broadening the Posted Workers Directive to include a reference to the free movement of workers and ensuring that the Directive does not allow companies to undercut wages and working conditions in host countries. These are just a few examples amongst may ideas to make the world a fairer place. Taking action on social dumping, rather than the the policy of the Right to take no action, is the right cause for the progressive Left and a narrative that plays well with all sections of society: from the socially concerned to trade unionists.
ACHIEVING THE MDGs
WAR & PEACE
Peace and stability will never be brought to Congo until Rwanda stops fighting a proxy war, writes Sam Strudwick
Sam Strudwick Web Editor, Young Fabian Executive
ive years after war in the country was meant to have ended, conflict in the Congo still rages on. Fed by lucrative raw materials and interference from neighbouring countries, it is time the world started paying closer attention to what is happening. Since the start of the Second Congo War in 1998 more than 5 million people have died as a result of the conflict, most of them from disease and starvation. Over a million people remain displaced by the fighting. At the end of October, General Laurent Nkunda and his rebel Tutsis forces, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), broke through the Congolese defences in North Kivu and advanced towards the provincial capital, Goma. General Nkunda and his men have demonstrated their notorious reputation for raping women and children, mass murder and the recruitment of child soldiers. He has been accused of leading atrocities on a number of previous occasions in Congo’s recent history. Even the Congolese army has been responsible for numerous human rights violations against civilians, as it has disintegrated in the face of General Nkunda’s approaching forces. This latest outbreak of fighting has pushed the Congo to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. It is estimated that nearly 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, most of them women and children. These people are in a desperate situation, without sufficient food, water, medical supplies or shelter. At 17,000 troops, the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, known as MONUC, is the largest UN deployment anywhere in the world and over half of them are stationed in the east of the country. Despite this, extra troops are
urgently needed to protect civilians and allow aid agencies to work freely. On the 21st November the UN Security Council voted to send an extra 3,000 troops to the region. However it is expected to take four months for them to reach the Congo. An alternative plan to send an EU battle group, which could be deployed much sooner, has met with resistance from leading European states including Britain, France and Germany, who favour a UN solution. The current UN arms embargo also needs to be strengthened to make sure that the weapons and ammunitions that fuel the violence and human rights abuses aren’t so easily available. However, even if extra troops on the ground succeed in curbing the aggression, a lasting peace will be much harder to achieve until its neighbours stop interfering in the country. Following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when Hutus murdered hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, Rwanda has often intervened in Congo, arguing that it has done so to protect Congolese Tutsis and to hunt down those Hutus responsible for the genocide. Many countries, particularly the United States and Britain have chosen not to look too hard at what Rwanda has been up to. This needs to stop. Rwanda is in danger of squandering any moral position it may hold. Rwandan backed forces in the Congo have repeated all the atrocities committed by Hutus in Rwanda. In December the UN released a report that highlighted the Rwandan governments’ connections with General Nkunda. The report stated that: “the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defence Forces to [Congo] in support of the CNDP”. The report also says that an advisor to Paul
Kagame, Rwanda’s president, met regularly with rebel leaders including General Nkunda and was in contact with them in the build up to the offensive in October. Money was also given to the rebels from a wealthy Congolese opposition member. For their part, there is now increasing evidence that the Congolese government has supported a rival rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which includes many suspected of playing a role in the 1994 genocide. Several senior Congolese officials are also reported to have links with another rebel group, Pareco. The almost perpetual conflict in the Congo has its roots in the genocide in Rwanda. Other countries need to address this issue and no longer tolerate Rwanda’s support of the murderous rebels before a stable and lasting peace can be achieved. Update Since writing the original draft of this article, the Congolese and Rwandan governments have joined forces to pursue the FDLR and CNDP rebel militias. This unprecedented level of cooperation has seen up to 4,000 Rwanda troops enter Congo since 20th January. This follows the CNDP declaring a ceasefire earlier in January. There are also reports that commanders within CNDP have split from their leader, General Nkunda, and joined the Congolese/Rwandan force to fight the FDLR. Better relations between Congo and Rwanda are essential if there is ever to be an end to the conflict. However a large attack on the FDLR, who are well armed and mix with the local population, could cause more civilian bloodshed and lead to even more people being displaced.
ENDS AND MEANS
Karl Pike Members of the Young Fabians
espite all the talk from Conservative leader David Cameron about working with the Government during the current financial turmoil, his Party have still spectacularly misjudged the public mood and continue to belittle society. The two sentences “we will work with the government in the short term in order to protect our economy” and “our society is broken” don’t go very well together. As Margaret Thatcher realised in her time as leader of the Conservative Party, Conservatives have to mix and match their beliefs and principles to truly appeal to the British people. Lady Thatcher was forced to meld her free-market neo-liberal leanings with traditional Conservative values of family, low taxes, and a welfare safety net lying on a very hard floor. In 1990, Lady Thatcher said of her record: “In the past decade, we have given power back to the people on an unprecedented scale. We have given back control to people over their own lives and over their livelihood - over the decisions that matter most to them and their families. “Eleven million people now own shares, and 7.5 million people have registered an interest in buying electricity shares. Labour wants to renationalise electricity, water and British Telecom. It wants to take power back to the state
“ It’s up to Labour to show not only that the Conservatives don’t have the answers, but that progressive solutions provide the answers to today’s problems.
and back into its own grasp - a fitful and debilitating grasp.” The actual result was a disaster: the destruction of British industry; the conversion of building societies into banks that have since all been bought or have collapsed; a simplified tax that hit the poor; and, ultimately, an ideology that had no clear narrative or ultimate aim. Those privatised energy companies are now the bane of the right-leaning press’ lives, while the Conservative’s current position on those who “now own shares” is ‘you take your risk, you pay the price’. As Martin Flannery, MP for Sheffield Hillsborough said at the time: “The Right Hon. Lady says that she has given power back to the people, but more than 2 million of them are unemployed. Has she given power back to them? “Is the frittering away of £100 billionworth of North Sea oil, which no other country has had, giving power back to the people? Will she kindly explain that - and how pushing many people into cardboard boxes and taking power away from them is somehow giving power back to them?” David Cameron is facing a similar predicament now. He’s having to juggle his free-market idealism with state intervention, nationalisation with links to short-sellers, a patriotic fervour and faith in the family with a stunning indictment of Britain’s “broken society”. The result he claims is ‘Conservative means to progressive ends’. In actual fact Cameron is headed towards a Thatcher-style melting pot of conflicting ideals. Progressive ends, met through progressive means of taxation and fair chances for all, aren’t met through Conservative means of leaving people on there own, cutting taxes for the richest estates in the country and telling millions of British people – be they overweight or living in the North of England – that they don’t have a
place in his new society. Make no mistake about it: David Cameron doesn’t have the answers to such an impossible equation, just as Margaret Thatcher didn’t. The Conservatives have been flailing around in a thick soup of their previous announcements, which are now drowning out their attempt at a U-turn. George Osborne accused Gordon Brown of heavy regulation in 2006, now it’s a decade of too little and he’d have you believe the Tories have been spouting that message for the last ten years. It’s up to Labour to show not only that the Conservatives don’t have the answers, but that progressive solutions provide the answers to today’s problems. That calls for bold moves to take the argument away from a small clique of issues and onto wider solutions that can provide clarity in the current trench of sniping. Wiping out inheritance tax is a ridiculous idea, it’s a progressive tax that affects only the most fortunate of people. Why shouldn’t those receiving a windfall that they haven’t worked for be taxed for it? And why shouldn’t those who have been fortunate enough to do well in life not give something back? Tackling non-domiciles is all very well, but tackling tax inequalities that affect millions of people is surely more appropriate. Let’s explain where taxation goes, what’s it’s used for and what would happen to your local council area if Conservative councils were left to freeze bills and eradicate any kind of support for the elderly, children and people on low incomes. A society without: the minimum wage; the Winter Fuel Allowance; tax credits and civil partnerships is an unfair society. It’s a society that would be with us right now were it not for a Labour Government. It’s time we all spelt that out more clearly.
Tom Brooks-Pollock Member of the Young Fabians
he Labour party has always had an uncomfortable relationship with nuclear weapons. In the 1940s, the Attlee government began Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, initially in secret. Retaining the bomb has been official party policy for most of the following six decades, with unilateralist interludes in 1960 and the 1980s. Any student of New Labour knows that one of its totems was the reversal in nuclear policy, conveniently (if misleadingly) reduced to an argument between ‘unilateral’ versus ‘multilateral’ disarmament for most of the Cold War. It is for this reason that The Economist argued last year that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were ‘never’ likely to do anything but decide to renew Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system. And so it proved. Last March, the Commons supported the government’s plans to replace its four Vanguard class submarines and 58 nuclear missiles by a large majority. But such a relic of the politics of the 1980s and ‘90s may soon come to appear as out-of-date. When Adam Leeder argued for Trident’s renewal in the Summer edition of this magazine, he was right to be wary of the use of any ‘macho’ language surrounding Britain remaining a nuclear power. Better to leave such posturing to the dictators, the terrorists and the fundamentalists - precisely the kinds of people who are increasingly likely to get their hands on nuclear bombs. A rising and surprising number of leading world leaders, foreign policy and security experts are getting serious of getting rid of the bomb for good. This is because actions like Britain’s renewal of Trident are so clearly making the world – and Britain – less, not more, safe. Adam talks about ‘the lofty idealism of those who campaign
for nuclear disarmament’, which often ‘clouds the reality of this key debate’. Well, just such a lofty idealist is about to take office in the White House. In July, Barack Obama, at a meeting at Purdue University, Indiana said: ‘It’s time to send a clear message to the world: America seeks a world with no nuclear weapons.’ Obama is a serious supporter of a nuclear-free world, and his position has backing across the political spectrum in the US, including from old Cold Warriors once trenchantly in favour of the bomb. In January of last year, former secretaries of state George P Schultz and Henry Kissinger, former secretary for defense William Perry and many others – Republican and Democrat - wrote to the Wall Street Journal arguing that, following the end of the Cold War, ‘Reliance on nuclear weapons for [deterrence] is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.’ These people can hardly be dismissed as ‘pacifists, unilateralists and fellow travellers’, the phrase with which Gaitskell derided his anti-nuclear Labour opponents in 1960. Many of the signatories of the Schultz letter worked for right-wing administrations, even by Republican standards. This spectrum of opinion, stretching to liberals like Obama, is not ‘unilaterlist’ in the old sense. But it supports a new, concernted push by world leaders to get rid of nuclear weapons. This is a recognition that since the end of the Cold War, leaders of the nuclear nations have done nothing to stem the proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapon. The renewal of Trident sits very uncomfortably with such a new, progressive vision for a nuclear-free world. It is increasingly irrelevant to the threats of a post-Cold War world, namely climate change and terrorism. If Trident’s
irrelevance to the first is obvious, see Tony Blair’s comment to Parliament in 2005 on the second: “I do not think that anyone pretends that the independent nuclear deterrent is a defence against terrorism”. So what is it meant to deter? Adam Leeder argues that Britain still needs nuclear weapons as a kind of insurance policy, because the world’s danger can change very quickly. This is an argument for the indefinite retention of nuclear weapons. The starkly pessimistic view that nuclear weapons can never be done away with is at odds with the tide of hope recently unleashed by Obama’s election victory. And anyway, Britain is notionally obliged under the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to work positively towards multilateral disarmament. No-one can pretend that Trident renewal is such a positive step. Trident’s ‘deterrent’ effect is waning, if it ever held much force at all. Nuclear weapons never stopped Argentina invading the Falkland Islands, or Iraq invading Kuwait. And the nonproliferation regime has not prevented an increasing number of states and non-state actors from acquiring, or trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Gordon Brown must recognise that the world’s political mood is changing fast, just as he has done in dealing with the world economic crisis. Even if he decides not to renew Trident, Britain will still have a nuclear weapons capability for many years after his career has ended. The decision not to renew could capture a new international mood for scaling back and morally devaluing nuclear weapons. In that sense, the action would never be strictly ‘unilateral’. And in these straitened economic times, Brown would save himself more than £20bn into the bargain.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
More than a year in the planning, the Young Fabians headed over the Atlantic late last
Adrian Prandle International Officer, Young Fabian Executive
bit like watching James Cameron’s Titanic, you already know the end to this story. Barack Obama was successfully elected the 44th President of the United States of America – to cries not of ‘Yes we can’ but of ‘Yes we did’. But there is always a story within a story. Here’s ours. An incredible eighty Young Fabian and Labour Staff Network members joined our delegation to Columbus in the swing state of Ohio for the final week of one of the world’s most closely watched campaigns of recent years. Ohio is a microcosm of America, made up of a patchwork of very different and distinct communities - from rural areas where livelihoods focus on agriculture to the proud manufacturing cities now struggling in the global economy, and suburban Columbus with one of the highest shopping mall footage per capita rates in the country. The state is also home to some large 21st century corporations. Electorally, it is a “bellwether” state. No Republican has ever been elected President without carrying Ohio, and the state has been won by the eventual winner of the presidential election in all but two
“ The campaign sought to merge a top-down and bottom-up model of organisation, not just with the paid staff, but volunteers also, empowered to bring about change.
contests since 1892. So, Ohio matters. It was the decisive state in reelecting President Bush in 2004 and as we were told by Jeremy Bird, Obama’s field director for the state, in a briefing on our first morning: if Obama won Ohio, it wouldn’t matter what happened elsewhere. The key thing to know about this campaign is that it was all about people. From the inspirational candidate, to people like Jeremy and his colleagues who’d helped introduce a new and effective way of organising campaigns, to grassroots volunteers and ordinary people excited by the campaign and keen to play their part. And there were certainly people in Columbus talking about the British involvement – from the couple on the first night who insisted they didn’t need foreigners meddling in their elections to the numerous people keen to chat, to take photos, to parade us in front of their ailing grannies and to understand why we’d travelled so far. One voter coming home with his family put it succinctly: “This campaign – it’s an international phenomenon!” We were briefed on the campaign mantra, ‘respect, empower, include’ and on the importance of relationship building. Stories were important. Obama’s own remarkable story is of course well documented. But as part of the process of developing a relationship with voters on the doorstep, volunteers were told to tell their story about what brought them to this point, what inspired them to care so much about this election and this candidate to get involved and to then encourage voters to share their own stories. The campaign sought to merge
a top-down and bottom-up model of organisation, not just with the paid staff, but volunteers also, empowered to bring about change. People’s talents were recognised and they were given appropriate roles, trusted with certain responsibilities and sent out to recruit their own team of volunteers to help them. A motivator? Then, come and run canvassing teams. Great organisational skills? You can coordinate which volunteers come in when and who will cook the food to feed them between shifts. They were made accountable by nightly reporting of results against targets – be it doors knocked or new volunteers recruited. Every supporter found was asked to come and join the campaign – and this worked, as volunteers were still signing up for shifts in the final couple of days. One woman even insisted upon calling her daughter and son-in-law, handing me the phone and telling me to get them along too! Some characters were met along the road to victory. Cecil, the retired colonel from Texas, and his wife Marsha who’d temporarily moved to Ohio to play their part. Charlie, the industrial robotics salesman, who’d converted his classic Mercedes into an ‘Obamamobile’. And his cat Dieter, found without a home four years earlier on the day John Kerry lost to Bush, who ran the roost in their home-cum-campaign centre. Much of the week was spent knocking on doors and hanging door hangers telling Democrat supporters where to vote. We knocked on around 12,000 doors, speaking to 4,000 voters and used in the region of 14,000 door hangers in the final days of the campaign. We reached a remarkable 8,000 voters
YOUNG FABIAN EVENTS
October for one of our biggest, most ambitious and successful trips ever
on Election Day itself. Yes We Did Aside from this, perhaps two highlights stand out. First, just two days before the election when Obama came to town for a remarkable rally outside the Ohio Statehouse. After hours of waiting and numerous plays of the campaign theme tune, Stevie Wonderâ€™s Signed, Sealed, Delivered, a lucky few Young Fabians managed to get close enough to shake hands with Barack and Michelle and many more had the unique opportunity to see him speak up close. Secondly, election night at the Ohio Democrats election party in a central Columbus hotel and that moment oh-so early in the evening when Ohio was called for Obama and victory no longer looked doubtful. Tears were shed and celebrations continued long into the night. As with Titanic, a lot of money was spent on getting Barack Obama elected. Not just by the campaign itself but by the countless volunteers who gave up their holiday time and paid to travel to various locations in crucial states and stay there to help ensure victory. Not many will have travelled further than the Young Fabian members who made it, but all had a part to play. The challenge now is to replicate the success of the left in America and ensure the enthusiasm, the energy and ideas and a new way of organising campaigns happens here up and down the country to get Labour candidates elected and a Labour government returned. Young Fabians have already begun the follow-up work. But the ball is very much in all of our courts.
ACTION FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA Diary from a memorable trip
Claire Leigh and David Chaplin Policy & Publications Officer and Co Vice-Chair, Young Fabian Executive
n June 2008 three Young Fabian Executive Members, Claire Leigh, David Chaplin and Susan Nash visited South Africa and Swaziland as part of an Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) delegation, of ten youth and student leaders. The visit enabled Claire, David and Susan to engage with their counterparts in southern Africa and build solidarity between the Young Fabians and youth and political organisations in southern Africa. The trip was a moving and fascinating experience for David and Claire, and they were both delighted to host a Young Fabian ‘World Aids Day’ event in conjunction with ACTSA in November to discuss some of the issues which they encountered in South Africa, but particularly Swaziland.
David and Claire spent the 12 days with a packed schedule, and below is a diary exert taken from their notebook on Day 3 of the trip. Day 3 Cape Town, Rape Crisis Centre, Treatment Action Campaign and an evening with Denis Goldberg One of the most important days of the trip was our third day in Cape Town, when we shifted our attention from the history and ongoing legacy of Apartheid to some of the newer challenges facing South Africa. First on the schedule was a visit to Rape Crisis Cape Town, an NGO based in the salubrious Observatory district of the city. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Chantelle, the director of the organisation. She spoke to us about the endemic and growing problem of sexual violence against women in South Africa, setting this in the context of recent history and other aggravating social and economic trends that is making rape one of the biggest emergencies facing the country today. Some 55,000 women report a rape in South Africa every year, but this is estimated to represent just one in nine instances of rape, and, of those reported, only 7% end in conviction. The maths suggests that, for many, rape can be perpetrated with impunity, a fact that may itself be fuelling the crisis. Rape Crisis is a volunteer-run charity that offers free counselling and a helpline to survivors (never ‘victims’), prevention advocacy, and various community outreach schemes. After Chantelle’s talk we were introduced to the counselling coordinator, Joyce, who took us to three of the field projects run by the organisation. The second of these was ‘Simelela’ in Khayelitsha township, where we were shown medical and counselling facilities that included,
“ Driving out of Khayelitsha, the poverty of the Cape Flats townships was laid before us. All of us were stunned into silence as we drove through the endless informal settlements that radiate east out of the city.
upsettingly, a children’s room. Driving out of Khayelitsha, the poverty of the Cape Flats townships was laid before us. All of us were stunned into silence as we drove through the endless informal settlements that radiate east out of the city. Millions of people, within spitting distance of the sky-scrapers and villas of Cape Town city centre, have little more than a tin shack to call home. If it weren’t for the ubiquitous presence of Table Mountain on the horizon, you would truly think you were in a different world. We followed up our morning with Rape Crisis with a trip to meet an organisation that tackles the other great challenge facing the country - HIV/ AIDS. Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is in its tenth year, and works tirelessly to protect the human rights of AIDS sufferers and to widen the availability of anti-retroviral drugs. Only 400,000 South African sufferers have access to medication, in part due to the denialism of leading political figures and partly as a result of the hugely inflated prices charged by patent-owning pharmaceuticals. TAC also seeks to educate people about HIV/AIDS through its treatment literacy programme. One of the biggest obstacles the NGO faces are the various quack medical cures that are
YOUNG FABIAN EVENTS
being touted in the townships and the corridors of power alike. We finished our day with a visit to the house of activist hero Denis Goldberg, who had invited us round for a barbeque. Denis was one of the few white leaders of the ANC in the struggle against Apartheid in the 1950s and 1960s, and was imprisoned for two decades as one of the ‘Rivonia Trialists’ - part of the infamous trial that also led to Nelson Mandela’s incarceration. Denis was released in 1985, when he moved to London for 18 years. He has been back in South Africa since 2002 and is now living the life he richly deserves in the up-market ‘Hout Bay’, an arty suburb set between the spectacular mountains of Chapman’s Peak, its houses twinkling over the lower slopes in the dusk. To get to Hout Bay you have to drive west out of Cape Town along a spectacular coastal path, with the crashing surf to your right and an imposing ridge of mountains cradling the bay on your left. On the way, we passed through picturesque suburbs and villages such as Llandudno and Camps Bay. These were some of the wealthiest residential areas we have ever seen; the playgrounds of the wealthy white oligarchs of yesteryear, recently joined by rich Europeans looking to take advantage of a favourable exchange rate and to escape property prices back home. Juxtaposed with our day in the townships of the Cape Flats, the wealth and opulence seemed gross to us. South Africa’s new leaders have markedly failed to address the problem of wealth inequality, instead upholding a modern class system that reproduces almost exactly the racial divisions of 20 years ago. White South Africa seems to have
emerged from the Struggle not only intact, but newly legitimised. This economic segregation will take decades to address, and made us realise that the political revolution of 1994 was the start of a far longer process of liberation. Perhaps the spiralling crime rates that increasingly interrupt the elite lifestyle here may provide the necessary impetus to tackle the underlying issues of endemic poverty and social injustice. Denis himself proved an inspiring host, and welcomed us into his housean amazing trove full of the art and artefacts of a lifetime working for and in Africa. He had invited 12 or so young people from the local area to meet us, and we chatted over spicy sausages and beer about our countries, politics and societies. Half way through the evening Denis gave a short speech. He spoke about
how, 20 years ago, a party like this would have been inconceivable; how the architects of apartheid took lessons from the Romans and knew that to rule a people you had to divide them; and how the system sought to drive a wedge between the different peoples of South Africa. He spoke about how Apartheid very nearly succeeded, and that even today its legacy creates significant barriers to integration and mutual understanding- challenges of language, wealth inequality, culture and history. But despite all this, merely meeting together and laughing together as young people was enough to warm his heart, and gave him hope that better days may be ahead. More information about Action for Southern Africa can be found at www.actsa.org.
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