At the start of October party activists, charities and business leaders came together in Birmingham for the Conservative Party Conference. In what was billed as a make-or-break conference for the prime minister, the conference was Brexit-heavy, with most of the events – and speeches – focused on the impending deadline for a deal.
But despite the increased focus on domestic issues, politicians still found time to talk and discuss international development issues.
PM speaks of global progress Prime minister Theresa May used her speech to emphasise the need for unity ahead of the final stages of the Brexit negotiations. The PM used part of her platform to talk about the global progress made tackling extreme poverty. “In the last 30 years, extreme poverty has been cut in half, global life expectancy has increased by nearly 20 years, child mortality has halved,” the PM told the packed-out hall. These echoed remarks made by the foreign secretary on Sunday, who lauded the fact that “when I was born in 1966, half of the world's population lived in extreme poverty - that's less than a dollar a day. Now it's not half it's just 9% of the people in the world.”
Global Britain Sunday Secretary of State for international development, Penny Mordaunt, took to the stage on Sunday to celebrate the work of volunteers and highlight that “rather than falling apart, the world is getting a better place”. She then gave up her platform to those that are on the frontline of promoting and delivering UK aid. “What our nation has and is contributing to the advancement of humanity is breath-taking,”. She then brought the following people to the stage:
- Theo Clarke, CEO of the Coalition for Global Prosperity, which promotes the valuable contribution of UK aid to global prosperity
- Major General James Cowan, CEO of the Halo Trust, which specialises in removing landmines from developing countries
- Dominic McVey, director of Hela Clothing, which provides thousands of jobs across developing countries
- Eve Conway, president of the Great British and Ireland Rotary Club, the membership organisation that led the campaign to eradicate polio for the last 30 years.
As chair, Theo Clarke, former CFID Director, praised the Secretary of State for her leadership. Dominic McVey spoke about the need to provide jobs so that people in developing countries can be economically empowered and can break the cycle of poverty. Major General James Cowan spoke of the vital need to protect the poorest from former conflicts and wars. “In over ten years DfID has supported the (mine) clearance of Herat Province (Afghanistan), benefiting 370,000 families...Aid is not only the right thing to do but it is vital to our national interest.” Eve Conway spoke about how UK aid is helping to eradicate polio – a horrific and deadly disease that is 99.99% eradicated. “Because of UK aid, we’re now closer than ever to eradicating polio... Working together we are saving lives, but also keeping the UK safe.” The session included video links from Richard Curtis, Nick Herbert MP and Becky Platt (nurse frontline worker).
The session was closed with thanks to CFID's Social Action Volunteer work in Tanzania this summer, namely Project Urafiki, and the importance of CFID role within the party.
Annual Conference Reception CFID were turning people away at the door as over 120 people attended our annual conference reception, kindly sponsored by BOND which included the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, CFID Chair Jeremy Lefroy MP and Former Development Secretary Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP as the keynote speakers.
- Talking about the importance of development in the keynote speech, Penny Mordaunt underpinned the vital need for civil society and DfID to improve on connecting the public to the work of UK aid.
- Interim CEO of Bond, Judith Brodie, highlighted the need for poverty alleviation to be the core focus of UK aid, saying “aid and development can and does work in our national interest, but this shouldn’t be the main driver.”
- Chair of CFID Jeremy Lefroy, praised the work of British institutions like the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who undertake vital research on the diseases that continue to kill countless people across the developing world.
- Former Secretary of State for international development, Andrew Mitchell MP, praised the crucial work of Bond, CFID and its members,
- CFID Director Caroline Squire, Chaired proceedings and spoke of CFID's vital work in the party to promote UK aid, Project Urafiki, and thanked everyone for coming.
CFID/Tearfund Fringe Breakfast Kindly sponsored by Tearfund "How do you solve a problem like marine plastics" was a discussion panel Chaired by Caroline Squire with Harriett Baldwin MP, Africa Minister, Vicky Ford MP (PPS to FCO), Michael Tomlinson MP (PPS to DFID SOS), Joanne Green Tearfund Policy Director and Sam Richards, Director of Conservative Environment Network. A short Tearfund film showing some of their work in this sector was followed by a lively discussion around plastics and poverty within an international setting. Over 50 people attended with much enthusiasm and discussion about how the Conservatives Lent plastic campaign can be grown and expanded to reflect the plastic poverty development impact.
CFID Private Dinner. Kindly sponsored by the Coalition of Global Prosperity CFID co-hosted a dinner for 15 senior politicians, including Minister, Alistair Burt MP and former Secretary of State Justine Greening MP to discuss development issues including the Conservatives’ vision for international development and how development fits into the Government’s Global Britain narrative.
Essay Collection Launch On Tuesday CFID and Save the Children formally launched Healthier, Safer, More Prosperous: The Case for British Leadership in International Development A joint collection of essays by 12 Conservatives published by CFID and Save the Children UK. Many of the pieces are based on the authors’ personal experiences of seeing the difference that UK aid makes first-hand, and they span issues from the protection of civilians in conflict to investment in girls’ education and the need for a new development bank. This collection is an endorsement by parliamentarians from across the party of the case for a ‘Global Britain’ to be a compassionate Britain.
In addition CFID Director, Caroline Squire attended a number of other fringe events and one-to-one meetings with NGO's, Think tanks, Businesses and fellow affiliate groups. Including the first members evidence session of the Shaping Global Britain Taskforce.