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Gordon Brown Defends International Aid

Monday May 13 2019

Gordon Brown launches Christian Aid Week 2019 with a speech at Church House, London


Gordon Brown launched Christian Aid Week 2019 yesterday at an event in London in which he spoke about the moral and ethical need for aid and international development, made the case against nationalism and isolation and praised the charity’s work across the world.

The former prime minister spoke passionately about the need for Britain to be outward-looking, saying: “There is one vision of Britain that derives from people’s misunderstanding of the Dunkirk spirit - this idea that we are better off when we stand alone, aloof and apart, sufficient unto ourselves, isolated if necessary, supposedly this independent spirit that means we are better off when we are disengaged from the world…

"There is a second vision of Britain - a Britain that is open, outward-looking, engaged and not disengaged with the rest of the world, a Britain that is internationalist in its outlook, a Britain that sees it has responsibilities not just to itself.”

The former prime minister spoke of how he was inspired by his father who was a Church of Scotland minister and his mother who collected for Christian Aid.

He said: “Christian Aid is now one of the great national institutions that is acknowledged throughout the country… Christian Aid has achieved a reputation and acknowledgement by the British public that is a great achievement indeed…and it shows that social movements that bring about change are built on moral foundations.”

Recalling that Christian Aid Week started in 1950 by raising £26,000 ‘and now could raise nearly 10 million this year’, Mr Brown added: “I’ve got a very personal interest in Christian Aid because I will always remember the mountain of red envelopes that my mother was responsible for.”

Referring to the theme of Christian Aid Week – maternal health in Sierra Leone – Mr Brown said: "Hope is found in the ten thousand churches involved with Christian Aid Week, the fifty thousand collecting red envelopes, in the many doctors and nurses in Sierra Leone saving lives. One circle of empathy binds us all."

The debate, he said, was 'essentially between globalists and nationalists', adding that there needed to be a more effective counter-argument to the rise of nationalism, protectionism and populism. “If you have America first, India first, Japan first, Russia first, Turkey first, Britain first, then you have a world where it’s impossible to get agreements to do the things we need to do. We have to find a way of defeating the argument that the best way of running the world is every nation for themselves.”
 
Mr Brown dismissed arguments that the UK should cut back on its international aid budget. “We’ve got to argue back against people who say that aid is unproductive, aid is wasteful, aid is money going to the wrong people, aid is somehow inefficient - when all the evidence is that aid is well-used and even more necessary if we’re going to deal with fundamental problems that no decent citizen in Britain would tolerate if they saw what was happening first hand.”


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