Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 1923b

Blair’s ‘solutions’ will increase Africa’s pain

This article is over 19 years, 4 months old
Director of the World Development Movement Mark Curtis addressed the meeting Our World Is Not For Sale. This is an extract from his speech
Issue 1923b

YOU CAN tell that this ESF is a really important event as there are hardly any mainstream journalists here.

I think there is a great myth that the British government has a positive agenda and is a champion of the world’s poor.

Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown are currently posing as the saviours of Africa, and the mainstream media have largely fallen for this.

Every week there is some dutiful reporting of the government’s latest fantastic new initiative that displays our leaders’ concerns for global poverty.

The idea is that, while they might be liars and criminals when it comes to Iraq, at least on global poverty their hearts are in the right place.

This myth is complete nonsense and it is also very dangerous. The government is lining up for a massive propaganda victory next year when it hosts the G8 meeting.

Let’s look at the reality of British policy. Firstly, there is the Africa Commission that the Blair government is getting a lot of praise for. After 200 years of British intervention in Africa, the time to start worrying most is when a British government starts taking an interest in the region.

Blair’s Africa Commission is basically an unnecessary diversion. We already know what Africa needs. It needs to stop having trade rules imposed in the interests of multinational corporations. It needs debt written off. It needs to stop having privatisation forced on it.

Tony Blair does not need an Africa Commission that consists largely of Blairite Africans to tell him that.

This is a PR stunt designed for a government that is desperate after being exposed to international ridicule over Iraq to try and regain some international credibility.

Britain is also being praised for debt relief. Why? Debt relief is conditional on countries following World Bank and IMF policies.

In other words, debt relief is a tool to push corporate globalisation. I think this is the reason New Labour is so keen on debt relief.

We need to look at the aid policy that is the government’s flagship project, which they will be pushing from now until the G8. There is this thing called the International Finance Facility—Gordon Brown’s latest proposal. They are trying to propose this as a mechanism to double international aid.

We in the World Development Movement have just done some analysis on this, and found that it will probably result in less aid in the long term.

Even more importantly, aid remains conditional on countries promoting liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation.

This New Labour government is one of the leading champions of the corporate takeover of the planet. I refer to them as the New Liberalisation Theologists.

Trade minister Baroness Simons told a meeting of business leaders that the government was “their greatest ally” in the WTO negotiations.

My own research has told me that there are two fundamental goals the British government has in the world.

There is a political goal and an economic goal. The political goal is for the British political elite to maintain their great power status in the world.

This boils down to invading a country from time to time, retaining nuclear weapons to make sure we can obliterate most of the world several times over, and professing our total support for US foreign policy.

The economic goal is to organise the global economy, and particular regions, so that the Middle East, southern Africa and South East Asia work in the interests of Western and British corporations.

To quote from a secret Foreign Office file from 1968 that I discovered recently, “We should bend our energies to help produce a world economic climate in which our external trade, our income from invisibles and our balance of payments can prosper.

“The key to this is freer global trade and increasing our efforts to open up new markets in Europe, Latin America and the Far East.”

The same goal was recently reported by trade secretary Patricia Hewitt when she said, “We want to open up protected markets in developing countries.”

So what should we do about Britain’s role in the corporate takeover of our world?

In the run up to the G8 meeting next year it is vital that we make it clear that this government is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

We should not only be ratcheting up campaigning on individual issues. We also need to unite in a campaign to fundamentally change the system

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