At their conference in Doncaster, UKIP are setting out their stall for the general election. They will no doubt want the headlines from their £19bn tax cutting promise to be all about helping 'blue collar' workers, but the reality is they plan to balance their books on the backs of millions of the world’s poorest (and even then the IFS says the sums don't add up).
This year, for the first time, the UKs aid budget rose to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI). This meets a long-standing international commitment to the world’s poorest people, first agreed in 1970 at the UN General Assembly. I'm proud to live in a country, which even whilst running a £100bn deficit, spends a small amount of our income helping those in the world who are in the most desperate need. As the world’s 6th largest economy, surely that is our duty?
We owe more to fellow man-kind than to retreat to a domestic policy agenda that ignore the world around us.
To put the aid budget in context, this year (2014/15) the total UK aid budget is £10.3bn – less than 50 pence a day, per person in the UK. A small price to pay for a mission that in the last 3 years has provided 43.1 million people with access to clean water; helped 10.2 million children, including 4.9 million girls, to go to primary school; reached 11.4 million people with emergency food assistance; helped 85.8 million people to hold their authorities through democratic processes.
Yet UKIP are willing to throw all that away in a cheap and ill thought-out plan for an election giveaway.
British taxpayers’ money, through international development, is helping to build a strong and investable business environments in many developing nations. It is providing security and education to millions of people. Our aid budget is supporting the eradication of preventable disease across swaths of the developing world. It is supporting democracy across the developing world and in doing so underpinning security of our borders at home.
In what they claim will be a patriotic rally against the establishment, UKIP are willing to put at risk.
What matter in politics is your priorities. Unfortunately, UKIP are not only kidding themselves and the country about how to pay for their tax cuts, but risk damaging the UKs hard won reputation on the world stage by pulling back to a little-England mentality.