First entry after a while…due to the fact that a) I’m a second year Doctoral Researcher now and b) I’m teaching four classes of Introduction to Political Economy (POLS 107 in Birmingham POLSIS speak) (a first year course). Oh the life of IPE…
Anyway, breaking news: Yesterday, Labour leader Ed Miliband reshuffled most of his Shadow Cabinet. Harriet Harman unfortunately or fortunately is out of the Shadow DFID role and is now given four official (and long winded) titles: Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Party Chair and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Replacing her in shadowing the esteemed DFID is *Drum Roll* Ivan Lewis! (see also the Labour Party’s website).
I said “unfortunately or fortunately” for Harman as unlike Harman, who never had a official post in DFID, Ivan Lewis “knows” DFID as he was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (PUSS) (crude acronym I know) of DFID from 2008 to 2009). So he knows DFID work and won’t be so politically-laden in his Commons debates with Andrew Mitchell, Alan Duncan and Stephen O’Brien. I hope.
Ivan Lewis year in DFID perhaps displayed actual development-focused, however, he had many politically-charged debates such as this one where he was slightly arrogant in defending Labour’s record on aid transparency. Then again, as i said, he knows DFID and has had focus on development issues. He may not be one who says silly things like women should be in DFID’s Ministerial Team in order to place female issues first. However, he could return to the same strutting, Labour-is-the-only-one-who knows-International-Development speak.
A further crucial issue is that the team members for Lewis have not yet been appointed by Miliband. So goodbye to Mark Lazarowicz and Rushanara Ali? I liked the latter especially, given that he did show a commitment in shadowing DFID. Who will replace both of them? Will the shadow team be an team full of Labour political speak or one committed to knowledge? As I’ve previously written, the shadow team should look at:
1) Not just focus on 0.7 as I’ve said. It’s economically proven as outdated. But what do you want to do with 0.7% of spending.
2) Visit International Development Think Tanks. Mitchell’s results-based and Cash-On-Delivery approach stems from his time at the Center for Global Development, a rather neoliberal think tank. But Mitchell also spoke at the Overseas Development Institute in London.
3) Get a favourite economist. From what I gather, Mitchell’s favourite economist is Paul Collier and therefore the fixation on sending aid to conflict affected countries. (I don’t know much about Collier to criticise him). So get a favourite economist.
4) Extensively visit developing countries.
5) Most importantly, get an alternative development-centred policy.
Will Lewis and his two yet-unknown helpers turn the shadow team around? Definitely the politically-charged LCID will echo every word Lewis & Co. says, no matter how development-centred it is. Oh well, time will tell. I eagerly await the first House of Commons Debate with Lewis in his new role.