GORDON BROWN will have been delighted to have his photo taken next to a smiling Nelson Mandela last weekend. It was an important battle won against Tony Blair in the contest over who will be seen as the “saviour of Africa”.
Brown has spoken of a new Marshall Plan for Africa, modelled on the US support for parts of Europe after the Second World War. It’s clear he wants it to be known as the Brown Plan, not the Blair Plan. It is a fraud, a dud plan.
The Marshall Plan was a self-interested move designed to quell a rising tide of left wing rebellion in Europe, and to rejuvenate European markets for US multinationals. Neither of these conditions applies in Africa. So the measures proposed are pathetically weak.
Brown’s great gesture towards Tanzania was to pay 10 percent of the country’s repayments to the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank. Mozambique got a slightly better deal, but, as with Tanzania, the price was a British veto on how the money should be spent.
Enforcing debt repayments has never just been about making money. It has also been about controlling the economies in the global South—and that lever remains. Here’s a simple checklist to judge Brown and Blair throughout the year.
- They could immediately find the £1.2 billion required to cancel, totally, Britain’s share of debt owed by the 42 poorest countries, and then more funds to cancel other debts.
- They should meet the commitment, made 35 years ago and never reached, to spend 0.7 percent of Britain’s Gross National Income on overseas aid.
- They could withdraw all support from moves by the EU, the IMF and the World Bank to enforce privatisation, particularly of water services, on Third World countries.
- They could halt British mercenaries and arms dealers crawling over Africa in search of money from stoking up more wars.
None of these very simple and very limited measures has been taken. Instead, Gordon Brown remains chair of the IMF’s international monetary and financial committee. From this key position, he hands down the strictures of neo-liberalism to poor countries in Africa and elsewhere . This means privatisation, opening up to the multinationals and cutting subsidies to the poor.
In Scotland the Scottish Socialist Party is standing candidates in the general election who reject the pro-rich policies of both Brown and Blair. The Respect coalition is doing the same south of the border.
We will also be doing our utmost to mobilise for the biggest possible Make Poverty History demonstration in Edinburgh on 2 July when the G8 summit comes to Scotland.
Pat Smith is the Scottish Socialist Party prospective parliamentary candidate for the Edinburgh South West constituency.