THE leaders of the three main political parties have united in support of the UK’s international-aid effort, even if they disagree about each others’ ability to deliver.
In three articles written exclusively for this week’s Church Times, to coincide with Christian Aid Week, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, each affirms that the country’s work as an aid-giver is crucial to its moral character.
Mrs May, a regular worshipper at St Andrew’s, Sonning, her parish church, writes: “Our commitment to helping the most disadvantaged people in the world says something important about Britain. It says that we are a kind and generous country that will never turn its back on those in need. We will always meet our commitments to the world, and particularly to those who desperately need our support.”
She goes on to promise that, if elected on 8 June, “the 0.7 per cent commitment will remain, and we will look at how to spend that money in the most effective way”.PABehind a desk: the Conservative party leader Theresa May with eight-year-old Akaal Singh as she met pupils at Nishkam Primary School in Birmingham on Tuesday
Mr Corbyn, who once told Third Way that he was “not anti-religious at all” and who is known to be supportive of churches in his constituency, writes: “A British value that I have tried to live my life by is that we look out for those less fortunate than ourselves. I believe that there is a simple moral case for it, and the morality of continuing our support for the most impoverished people on the planet is unarguable.”
The Labour leader questions the Conservatives’ commitment to international development, saying that there are some — he names the International Development Secretary, Priti Patel — for whom “international development seems to invoke some kind of moral terror, balking at the notion of giving to the most needy”.
Mr Farron, an Evangelical Christian, writes that “investing money in reducing and eradicating poverty around the world” is primarily “a moral issue, coming from our gut sense of compassion, and our belief that we cannot sit by and ignore the injustice of a world of such inequality and poverty.
”As Christians, we recognise that this gut reaction comes from more than just our own thoughts and feelings; it also comes from a sense of being called to love our neighbour, wherever they may be; whether in the next-door flat or the other side of the world; in a favela in Brazil or a village in Ghana.”PAColour-coded: the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron takes a drink at a breakfast meeting in Bath on Tuesday
In a message to mark the 60th anniversary of Christian Aid Week, on Wednesday, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, who chairs the Christian Aid board, said that the UK should wear its aid budget “as a badge of honour — one that sets a standard for others to follow”.
And Tom Viita, Christian Aid’s head of advocacy, said: “It’s evident that the British public cares deeply about Britain’s role in eradicating poverty around the world. Tens of thousands of people up and down the UK are proudly showing their support for Christian Aid Week.
“Yet tackling the deep-seated, root causes of poverty goes beyond aid, beyond charity, and takes long-term commitment — not just for this election, but for the next Parliament and beyond. We thank the leaders of the major UK-wide political parties for their commitment to continuing to play a courageous role in international development, and urge all voters to consider these issues as they cast their ballots.”
Read the leaders here