July 24, 2007

Cameron talks the talk, but can't walk the walk (because of the EU)

While sunning himself in Rwanda so as not to get his hair wet Mr Cameron has put forward some ideas as to how the Conservatives would deal with the third world should they get into office which the BBC has summarised.

Increasing the proportion of aid money allocated to infrastructure and trade

Great, help them to help themselves

Publishing individual aid entitlements of individual hospitals, schools etc - to help them scrutinise the way it is being spent

But targeting at a more local level it is morelikely to actually be spent on the people, rather than disappearing into numbered bank accounts

A curtailment of NHS recruitment of doctors and nurses from the developing world - which leaves some countries short of medics

Not so sure about this one for two reasons. Firstly immigration is a good thing, both for us natives and for the immigrants. Second the way that hospitals recruit should be up to themselves rather than set by government diktat, for exactly the same reason why it is good that aid would be targeted at individual hospitals and schools. It is the hospitals themselves that know what their needs are and so it is the hospitals themselves that are best placed to decide how to fill them. We have already seen the way that central planning for medical training and recruitment simply does not work.

The British government should help train medical staff and meet part of their salaries where necessary

Not so sure about that one either. Is this really an area where the British tax payer should be forced to contribute? If they choose to give voluntarily then there are already many charities doing good work such as Medicine Sans Frontiers, the Red Cross, Sight Savers, UNICEF etc. The UK cannot even run it's own medical training programme correctly (due to it being centrally planned) so it is highly unlikely to be able to run successful one in a different continent. Just give the money to the hospitals and let them decide where it is needed, they are the people that actually know.

The World Bank should track corruption which hampers progress in the developing world

You mean it doesn't? They give out multi-billion dollar loans and they don't track how likely they are to end up in the numbered bank accounts of the political elite rather on what they where actually requested for. If they don't they obviously should.

Aid distribution should be simplified under a single agency

Everything should be as simple as possible, and no simpler. But I suspect that aid distribution (like most things done by the state) can get quite a bit simpler.

That is all quite good, but for any liberal he also said something that was very very good (if brutally obvious):

In a speech in Kigali, Mr Cameron called for an immediate end to trade barriers, saying: "Forget the endless tortuous negotiations about getting something in return.

"Just do it. We can afford it, Africa needs it, and we will all benefit from it."

Quite right but it is even better than that not only can we afford it, by opening up our markets to Africa we get more wealthy (because we want their produce) just as they do (because they want our capital). With free trade we do all benefit something that has been known for centuries, quite frankly why on earth are we still having to have this discussion? We got rid of the corn laws two centuries ago to everybody's benefit. Oh, that is right. Thanks to the EU we have also now got them back, and because this is an EU area should Cameron become Prime Minister despite these fine words he will have absolutely no power to do anything about them.


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