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About the Author

Lara Smallman
Campaigner, film-maker, blogger (London, United Kingdom)

Self-taught film-maker interested in exploring human rights issues. See more on larasmallman.com.

Post

Politicians -  in it for the long haul or just along for the ride?

Published 07th April 2010 - 4 comments - 2207 views -

Let the battle commence

The gauntlet’s been thrown down and the battle lines drawn. It’s now official; the general election is set for May 6th, a mere 29 days away.

But people don’t seem all that bothered. They’re all the same, is one you hear a lot, they never listen to what we want, oh - and a Question Time audience favourite, there’s no point even voting…

Personally I’m allergic to apathy. Putting that to one side though, this time round there is a real choice, it's a pretty close call and politicians, quite uncharacteristically, are all ears....

Believe it or not, politicians are discussing aid

Money talks so when opposition leader David Cameron starting talking cuts a few months back, everyone started listening, and listening hard. It’s the main battleground in the upcoming election, with Cameron’s Conservative party promising radical cuts in a bid to rescue us from a deep recession. Big cuts, everywhere. Everywhere except, and this will be music to the ears of many – health. Not a big surprise really, but there’s a second exemption – aid and international development. Incredibly, the Conservative Party has made the altogether unexpected decision of refraining from making cuts on aid.

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

Point scoring

Hot on their tail was the Labour party, which only two weeks ago, not wanting to be outdone, announced that they too would hold back, thereby leaving the current overall budget of £6 billion completely untouched.

In it for the long haul?

Whether politicians are now talking seriously about aid is because they think it’s a vote winner or because they believe in it, I’m not sure. One thing is for certain though, whoever does move into Number 10 come May 7th, they won’t be able to afford to forget the promises they’ve made. With a term in office lasting four or five years, all eyes will be on the new Prime Minister as the MDG target looms ever closer.

Getting politicians to stop talking, and start doing

Wanting to know if this was for keeps or just a flash in the pan, I decided it was time to get it from the horse’s mouth. And so I set about trying to make an appointment to meet with a senior Conservative MP to discuss the perception that political will, when it comes to aid, is severely lacking, with some going as far as saying that it’s the only obstacle in the way of achieving the MDGs. To cut a long story short, I’m not getting an interview, not until after the general election. Pity that, as now is the time to really put politicians on the spot and get them to see that we expect actions to accompany the endless rhetoric. I was of course also keen to talk about the exemption and whether a change in government means anything in real terms for the developing world.

Not all bad news though as I’ve only got four weeks to wait (and rethink my line of questioning). In the meantime, it might well be a less than exhilarating and slightly predictable two-horse race on the cards, but that doesn’t mean we should just switch off and tune out. We need to know if politicians are in it for the long haul, and with not long until the 2015 MDG target, we need to know now. It's the time to start getting up, speaking out and making those politicians sweat a little!

 - As for whether I get that interview, I'll keep you all posted.


Category: Politics | Tags:


Comments

  • Pierre-Anthony Canovas on 09th April 2010:

    Hey Lara. Nice post and most of all, good writing style I would say. But just a question : for you and the britons, who might win in the elections ? I am sure it is hard to know, even regarding the pools, but are britons willing to « change » their Prime minister ? You talked about what people say « they are all the same… » but is there a lot of abstention every time you vote ? In France, some media have said this is most important élection for a génération…Do you agree with that ?


  • Lara Smallman on 09th April 2010:

    Hi Pierre. Thanks for your comment. It’s a really close call this time around so it’s anyone’s guess. I think people are more than willing to chance the Prime Minister (especially as he was never elected as leader of the Labour party, nor as PM) - that’s something that’s bothering quite a few people. As for abstention, the voter turnout isn’t very high at all. Some people (in their 20s) have never even registered to vote (so politicians are working on that too). It’s definitely an important election, I think they all are. More important than any other, who knows?


  • Clare Herbert on 12th April 2010:

    Fab photo! smile


  • Lara Smallman on 12th April 2010:

    Isn’t it just?! You can always count on the Daily Mail for specials like that!!


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