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General Election: What will the parties do to tackle global poverty?  

by
21 June 2024

The Church Times and Christian Aid asked Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer, Ed Davey, and the leaders of the other main political parties* to write exclusively on their party’s plans for international development and justice

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Displaced children fetch water in a temporary camp near Khan Younis, in Gaza, earlier this month. The UN estimates that the area now shelters approximately 1.7 million people

Displaced children fetch water in a temporary camp near Khan Younis, in Gaza, earlier this month. The UN estimates that the area now shelters approxim...

* The Labour Party declined our request and submitted a piece by David Lammy; Reform UK did not reply.


Rishi Sunak

We are living in an increasingly unstable and uncertain world. Russia’s brutal war rages in Europe, China is growing ever more assertive, and Iran is intent on sowing unrest in the Middle East. Coming on the back of the first global pandemic since 1918, and the biggest energy shock since the 1970s, we as a nation have been pounded by a series of once-in-a-generation shocks.

In such circumstances, it becomes more important than ever to have a clear plan to protect democratic values globally and deter these growing threats. That is why I have committed to spending 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence, a generational investment in both British and global security. It concerns me that Labour has not made the same commitment, which risks emboldening our enemies. We have also supported Ukraine since Putin’s invasion, backing them with a further £3 billion this year.

To support developing nations and make the 0.5 per cent of GDP we spend on aid go further, we need a growing economy. The latest figures show our economy grew at 0.6 per cent in the first corner of this year, helped by our plan to halve inflation, which is now back to normal levels.

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Whatever your stage of life, we will cut your taxes. We have protected vulnerable pensioners by introducing the Triple Lock, which has led the State Pension to rise by £3700 since 2010, and we’ve just announced a Triple Lock Plus to make sure the State Pension is never dragged into income tax. We’ve put money back in the pockets of hard-working people too, with an average tax cut this year of £900. And, since 2010, we have reduced absolute poverty, pensioner poverty, and child poverty.

We are also taking bold action to deliver a more sustainable planet for future generations. Our clear plan for net zero has led us to become the very first country to halve our greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, out of the top 20 largest economies in the world. Indeed, few countries have done more than Britain, with more than £300 billion invested into green technology since 2010. And, with some of the most ambitious carbon targets of all developed nations, we will continue to go further in a responsible way.

From delivering the furlough scheme in the pandemic, to helping people with their energy bills and the cost of living, my track record shows that I will protect those who need it most. You won’t get that from Labour — a party that doesn’t seem to have a plan to do anything other than raise your taxes and raid your pensions.

So, there is a clear choice at this election between our clear plan for a more secure future, and a Labour Party that has no plan and would take us back to square one.

Rishi Sunak MP is the Prime Minister.


Ed Davey

2024 is proving to be a terrible year for civilians in conflict, whether it is the ongoing war in Sudan, the Israel-Gaza conflict, or as a result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

I pray for all those caught up in these conflicts, and I know that, in churches across the country, fellow Christians will be doing the same — for the huge injustices which we have seen unfold globally, or the ongoing climate crisis which threatens many communities across the globe.

And, at this General Election, I believe that we must consider the part that the UK plays on the world stage. I firmly believe that, at a dark moment such as this, it is our duty as a country not to shrink from our part on the world stage, but to act to help bring about a fairer world, underpinned by the values of human rights, of respect for rules, of peace, and of justice.

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One such area in which the UK can have a transformative impact on the lives of the most vulnerable across the world is international development spending. Whether it is helping to prevent malnutrition, reduce poverty, educate children, or tackle climate change, the UK has a record of acting as a force for good on the world stage. But, under the Conservative Government, international aid has been cut — and the 0.7 per cent of national income target has been abandoned. It was Liberal Democrats who enshrined the 0.7 per cent target in law.

We view the UK’s international development spending as a powerful tool to help those around the world who need it most — as well as a crucial part of our international reputation. That is why we are committed to returning international development spending to 0.7 per cent of national income.

In an era when, sadly, global poverty is increasing again, and progress towards sustainable development is off track, Liberal Democrats will put the UN Sustainable Development Goals — and in particular the elimination of absolute poverty — at the heart of UK international development spending. And, as human rights and the position of women and girls are being eroded across large swaths of the world, our restoration of the aid budget will bring UK funding for these crucial matters back to pre-cut levels.

Our commitment to restoring the UK’s international development spending is also pivotal when it comes to long-term global challenges — one of the most pressing of which is climate change. The devastating impacts of wildfires, floods, heatwaves, droughts, and rising sea levels are already being felt by millions. Liberal Democrats will increase the proportion of UK aid committed to tackling climate change and environmental degradation, to help build a sustainable future.

And, in the here and now, Liberal Democrats will work in line with international law, human rights, and democratic values — whether that be standing with Ukraine, or standing up for our democratic allies worldwide, like Taiwan. We believe that the UK should be an advocate for the peaceful resolution of long-standing conflicts which can cause such devastation. In the Israel-Gaza conflict we will advocate for an immediate bilateral ceasefire, to put an end to the humanitarian devastation in Gaza, get the hostages home, and provide the space to bring about a two-state solution, with dignity and security for Israelis and Palestinians.

The conflict in Ukraine underscores the importance of taking defence seriously, and collaborating with allies to safeguard our freedoms. We are steadfast in our support for NATO, and committed to meeting our defence commitments while partnering with allies to innovate and bolster our defence capabilities.

This election is our chance to win the change we — and, indeed, some of the most vulnerable communities in the world — desperately need.

Sir Ed Davey MP is the leader of the Liberal Democrats.


Carla Denyer

We are told by some to retreat and to protect our own interests. By others, we’re offered a bombastic image of global Britain trying to once again rule the seven seas.

Greens reject both, and instead offer an approach that allows us to focus on the interconnectedness of our actions, the impact they’re having on global poverty, rising conflict, and the climate crisis. These issues are deeply interwoven, each exacerbating the others. As co-leader of the Green Party, I believe that our responses must be holistic, nuanced, rooted in justice, and driven by a vision of sustainability and equity.

Global poverty remains a devastating reality for millions, manifesting in hunger, inadequate health care, and limited access to education. It is both a cause and a consequence of environmental degradation. The exploitation of natural resources often leaves local communities impoverished, while the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect the world’s poorest, who are least responsible for the emissions causing it.

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The Green Party advocates for a new economic model that prioritises human well-being over simple GDP growth. We must support fair trade, cancel unpayable debts, and ensure that aid is not just a sticking plaster but a means to empower communities to become self-sustaining.

Rising conflict, too, is tied to environmental and economic factors. Resource scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, often fuels tensions and violence. In regions such as the Sahel, climate-induced droughts have heightened competition for dwindling resources, leading to conflict. UK foreign policy should promote peace through climate action and sustainable development. By investing in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and water management, we can help to create stable environments that reduce the likelihood of conflict.

The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time, demanding urgent and transformative action. It is a threat multiplier, intensifying poverty and conflict. The Green Party is committed to achieving a zero-carbon society as soon as possible, and more than a decade ahead of the Government’s target of 2050.

We are committing to investing £40 billion a year to make this transition. This involves a just transition to renewable energy, protecting and restoring natural habitats, and enacting policies that reduce consumption and waste. Our vision is of a green economy that provides decent jobs, reduces inequality, and ensures a healthy planet for future generations.

Faith communities have long been at the forefront of advocating for social justice and environmental stewardship — indeed, this is what brought me to the Quakers in my twenties. The Green Party shares these values, and seeks to work alongside these communities in our common goal of a fairer, greener world. If you want a party that will work with you to offer real hope and real change, then the Green Party might just be the party for you.

Carla Denyer is co-leader of the Green Party.


David Lammy

As a Christian, faith is central to my life and politics. Spending so much of my childhood as a choir boy in Peterborough Cathedral, I not only learned to sing. I was taught to believe the gaps we see around us — in power, wealth, and dignity — are not only emotionally distressing, but wrong.

During the recent years of austerity, a global pandemic, and a cost-of-living crisis, churches have served communities around the UK in countless ways. As my mother taught me, churches show everyone what it means to be a society of service. As the Labour Party, we recognise the depths of belief and devotion that drive your commitment to social justice and social action.

This same commitment must extend beyond our shores. I am continually impressed by the incredible contribution of Christian charities delivering overseas, their tireless advocacy and dedicated fundraising.

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Given the opportunity to serve as Foreign Secretary, I will end the current chaotic approach to foreign affairs and enable the UK to once again take a leadership role as a force for good on the world stage. With previous Labour governments, Britain lifted millions out of poverty. Under the Conservatives, Britain’s development capability has been degraded, hurting the world’s most vulnerable while damaging Britain’s influence and leaving us less safe.

A Labour Government would rebuild Britain’s reputation on international development with a new approach based on genuine respect and partnership with the global South. If elected, we will launch a new strategy, restoring international development back to its rightful place alongside defence and diplomacy as one of the three key elements of Britain’s international influence.

The strategy will underpin a new international approach to “creating a world free from poverty on a liveable planet” that will support the goals of economic stability, security, and opportunity across the world. To help deliver this, we have committed to restore development spending at 0.7 per cent of gross national income as soon as fiscal circumstances allow.

Sir Keir Starmer wrote recently to faith leaders around the country, committing to work in partnership with them. I very much hope that we will have the opportunity to work together to unify our country, transform our local communities, and bring about a fairer and more resilient world.

David Lammy MP is the Shadow Foreign Secretary.


Read Paul Vallely’s analysis of the politicians’ articles here.

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