Douglas Alexander Blasts UK Coalition Government's Aid Approach

Former U.K. international development secretary Douglas Alexander. Photo by: Overseas Development Institute / CC BY-NC Overseas Development InstituteCC BY-NC

Former U.K. international development secretary Douglas Alexander says he is unhappy with the current coalition government’s stance on foreign aid.

Alexander, in an article published on The Guardian, criticized the coalition government for its lack of a clear set of aid priorities and objectives.

“Sadly, it is not just a lack of clear objectives clouding the upcoming summit. The idea that we should even give aid, let alone the amount, has come under sustained attack from the rightwing commentariat in recent weeks,” the former secretary noted.

Alexander was referring to the upcoming U.N. Millennium Development Goals summit, which he said many believed would become just another talking shop.

The former secretary said recent actions by his successor, Andrew Mitchell, has fueled rather than quieted the views of aid skeptics. He suggested that Mitchell draw on recent praise accorded to the U.K. to make a bold decision and introduce reform proposal aimed at meeting the 0.7 percent aid target starting 2013.

As Devex reported, the Labour’s Department for International Development was recently lauded by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for gaining “national and international recognition for its professionalism and ability to deliver its aid program effectively”.

Alexander further criticized what he termed as “grand gestures” taken by Mitchell and the recently installed Cameron-Clegg coalition government. These gestures, he explained, included shutting down programs that were already closed or due to close and “committing to create a further quango to monitor aid risk creating a false and misleading picture of our aid program.”

He said Mitchell should instead work on defining his aid priorities, including those for the upcoming U.N. summit.

“Instead of creating straw men to burn ceremoniously in an ill-conceived strategy to placate sceptics on the right of his party, Andrew Mitchell would do better to highlight and build upon what was working well and set out a positive, forward agenda – starting with the upcoming New York summit,” Alexander said.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.