This is not meant to be an attack on an individual bu more a critical review of her. Yes it’s a her. I’m talking about Rushanara Ali MP, appointed as the junior Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (thus supposedly shadowing Stephen O’Brien MP, PUSS of DFID) by Ed Miliband (or his advisors) around October 2010.
I’m drawing from official parliamentary records–Hansard. As a Shadow Minister(what ever level), one is elevated from a simple backbencher to that of a frontbencher(although one doesn’t always get to sit there). But beyond the literally meaning, one is supposed to “shadow” or keep tabs on your opponent(who is in government).That is the basic idea of the Westminster system.
Ms Ali it seems may be said to have taken up that role, having talked about the provisioning of water to children in developing countries and funding to British charities.But those are scheduled debates by the Speaker of the House and the Leader of the House of Commons (correct me as to who schedules debates).
Let’s look at the number of written questions she has tabled (is that the term) regarding development/DFID since her appointment in October 2010. Hansard does not lie and and the answer is six over the period of October to the end of December 2010. In contrast, her counterpart, Mark Lazarowicz MP has tabled 11 questions over the same period and more often. Furthermore, Mr. Lazarowicz has posted news articles about fairtrade goods, Aung San Suu Kyi and World AIDS Day on his website since his appointment. Up till 31st December 2010, Ms.Ali has failed to mention anything related to International Development or DFID on her own
Excuse? Yes as LCID tried to defend, Ms Ali was on an Oxfam-funded trip to view Climate Change work and effects in the developing world. Right, that was across a few weeks after her appointment. However, since then, the questions she has tabled are meagre and spread out across many weeks. And looking at the topics she raised, they don’t hold much weight even compared to the variety of topics Mr. Lazarowicz asked.
As I mentioned in my review on the shadow team, Harriet Harman has to juggle three roles–Shadow Deputy PM, Deputy Leader to her own party and then Shadow DFID Minister. At least she has tabled some questions regarding development/DFID but the onus is on her two helpers. And it seems that Mr.Lazarowicz is haldning 90% of the work while Ms. Ali is not “shadowing” well enough.
And yet LCID fails to notice this. Well, the Tory-led DFID will have more freedom if she continues this way.
On another note, Happy 2011 to all, not just in the developed world but those billions trapped in poverty and affected by the programmes of International Organisations, bilateral aid organisations, regional organisations, NGOs and others.