Archbishop Desmond Tutu quoted in foreign aid plea to Government
It was fitting that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby used the words of Desmond Tutu- “a promise to the poor is particularly sacred” - in his recent impassioned plea for the UK Government to reverse its plan to cut foreign aid.
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced last week that foreign aid may be slashed from 0.7 per cent to just 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product, Welby argued that cutting our commitment to help poorer communities overseas was both morally wrong and politically foolish.
Indeed he described it as: “…an act of national self-harm” that would lessen Britain’s standing in the world.
The shocking truth is that the figure of 0.7 per cent was a Conservative manifesto commitment made last year. As recently June Prime minister Boris Johnson insisted that that commitment remained.
Of course the unprecedented (a word used an unprecedented number of times in recent months) financial impact of the Covid 19 pandemic has been cited as the reason for the proposed cut back. It also plays into the hands of those who shortsightedly insist that charity begins at home and we need to save money.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that even at 0.7 per cent when our finances are squeezed we spend less. So why claw back money from the poor and the needy? It’s a mean and counter-productive act that will leave many poor and vulnerable people high and dry. It will also mean that our nation will be less trusted in the future.
What a stupid move to make at precisely the time that Britain will be seeking to establish global post-Brexit trade deals.
The fact that the cut is being described as ‘temporary’ does not play well with the Archbishop of Canterbury who points out that when William Pitt the Younger introduced income tax in the 18th century that too was described as a temporary measure.