Friday, 31 August 2018
Mrs May is off on her jollies, demonstrating her natural warmth and empathy... and dancing skills, and basically doing her damnedest to appear unfazed by the entire world view of her, which is dead woman walking. What she is doing, of course, is trying to work out where to deploy the foreign aid bribes most effectively; at which despots to bung British taxpayers’ dosh; where to waste the wonga... everybody expects the same ultimate fate as that of the company of the same name.
Shortly before my recent ‘Twexit’ I engaged in a debate about foreign aid which rested on the affirmation by another party that 'foreign aid isn't wasted money'. No? Try convincing the NHS garment-renders. Ask the young people struggling to get on properly funded apprenticeships. Consult the homeless, the local authorities and the police. Consider actually putting the proposal to maintain the overseas aid budget at current levels to those who actually pay for it.
It all depends on what you think foreign aid is: If it is charity, are the needs of British subjects second to those of the third world which outnumbers them thousands to one and among which the largess may well be spread too thin to make a difference, or else end up channelled into undesirable pockets - gold-plated Bentleys, anyone? And if it is a bribe is it desirable that we are seen to be bribing despots - gold-plated Bentleys, anyone?
And if we do have to offer bribes in order to trade, anywhere, what does that say about both parties to the arrangement? Does it indicate that the trade is not worth it on merit, or is it just a means of paying more than the going rate? To many people, the people who ultimately cough for it as well as those who receive it , foreign aid says one thing loud and clear, it says - look at us - we're rich enough to throw money away. And if this is what we give away overseas, how rich must we be at home?
Britain is not only seen as a rich and generous country, but also as one with rich pickings for the opportunists. Economic migrants cross continents in order to take advantage of us, in the knowledge that once on British soil, there are many ways to milk the system. One, seemingly honest way, is to work for a living; after all, our benefit system is particularly generous towards those who earn minimum wage because we top it up with a variety of benefits, both direct and in kind. The NHS is one example of a ‘free’ benefit in kind; it is free to all who are not net taxpayers.
Maybe we should actually take a leaf from one section of Corbyn’s hymn sheet and not seek trade with despotic regimes? Or do we genuinely believe that only by appeasing and enriching the despots can we open up a dialogue and attempt to improve diminished lives? If foreign aid is effective, don’t we deserve a dialogue of our own; shouldn’t we be trusted to know exactly how it is spent and how this ultimately benefits the UK? Let's not kid ourselves that things like fair trade coffee are anything other than making ourselves feel good by paying over the odds for average coffee?