Alexander: No consensus on development

By Ian Dunt

There is no cross-party consensus on international development, despite Tory promises to ringfence the aid budget, Douglas Alexander said this morning.

Speaking on the final day of the Labour party conference in Brighton today, the international development secretary was keen to rebut speculation that the Conservatives’ commitment to match Labour spending on aid had all but finished differences between the two main parties’ programmes for assisting the developing world.

“There is no cross-party consensus on international development,” he told delegates.

Mr Alexander then outlined the differences between the two parties, in a speech which relied heavily on centre-left rhetoric.

The Tories are “a political party that see the Department for International Development as simply, a vehicle to exports its failed ideology, an ideology of forced privatisation,” while Labour is a party which “uses British taxpayers’ money to provide strong public service in the developing world”.

Mr Alexander also cited a survey of Tory parliamentary party candidates (PPCs), which found 96 per cent of those running for parliament under the Conservative banner disagreed with the leadership’s idea to protect international aid spending from future public service cuts.

The international development secretary contrasted this with the Labour party’s commitment to enshrine the level of spending in law.