Well, cabinet reshuffles usually are suppose to be for the better. For the Coalition Government of the UK, it surprisingly (in my view) shifted the grey haired Andrew Mitchell was shifted to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip. Many have termed that as promotion in terms of Cabinet ranking. I’m not an expert on British politics or British Government issues. Anyway…
I and many others in the UK International Development and International community waited to see whom David Cameron would appoint as the new Secretary of State for International Development. It soon appeared to be Justine Greening, the Transport Minister who was opposed to the creation of a new runway at Heathrow. Her biography and background said nothing about about an experience close to or near international development. Some cite this VSO video as evidence of her commitment to development. The unreliable Daily Mail quoted her (or misquoted?) in saying I didn’t come into politics to distribute money to people in the Third World.
Ok, despite the hoo-hah that Andrew Mitchell is replaced by a green novice–no pun intended due to her surname, lots of UK development organisations and practitioners are still welcoming Greening to the job. Chief of all was the Labour Shadow Spokesperson, Ivan Lewis, who sent her multiple written questions on when the foreign aid target of 0.7% per GNI will be legislated–what I now term as the 0.7% fetish (more on that later).
Moving away from such fetish, ODI’s Dr. Alison Evans wrote a blog post (which I reblogged above) talking about how Greening can seize the future. ODI’s and Guardian Global Development Jonathan Glennie praised the outgoing Andrew Mitchell though many criticised that piece. Phil Vernon wrote about the worries and yet positive aspects of Greening.
I expected only changes to the SoS of DFID but surprisingly, Lynne Featherstone was shifted in and Stephen O’Brien was moved out (of government). No reason why O’Brien was moved out or he just didn’t want to be on the frontbench anymore. Featherstone is a little closer to International Development, given her former role as equalities Minister in the Home Office. Even so, it should not be the position of any aid organisation to push for a fixed set of values on another country. More than that, DFID now has a Liberal Democrat Minister. Would this change DFID’s DNA? My friend Heather pointed out that Martin Horwood MP works on a Lib Dem committee (non-parliamentary) that monitors DFID, long before Featherstone’s appointment.
Goodbye Mitchell and O’Brien, hello Greening and Featherstone. How will DFID perform, especially post-2015? We shall see.
Short post after a long while.