DFID’s new junior ministers include Rory Stewart, James Wharton and Baroness Anelay (the last a Minister joint with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for the United Nations and the Commonwealth).
First Rory Stewart. He is well known for having walked across Afghanistan and staying with villagers along the way. He has experience with the Foreign Office, and as Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. In that role, he was said to champion against the Tory-Liberal Democrat and Tory defence cuts. This supposedly resulted in him being booted out of this position and “being dumped” into the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Ok, but seriously, he has a wider range of experience on various other Select Committees. Drawing him into DFID could really mean harnessing his experience and expertise regarding conflict and post-conflict regions. Or it could mean DFID gets an injection of from a FCO heavweight. We shall see….
Baroness Anelay is a another with FCO DNA in her. She has held the post of Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) during David Cameron’s Conservative majority government. More specifically, she has been Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict since June 2015. She also has a strong history in foreign relations/international affairs, having served on the Lord EU Sub-Committee and the Joint Committee on Security. Yes women’s rights and preventing sexual violence was a key priority for the two Cameron governments and naturally should be a development issue, though not exactly a subject that improves economic development. Again it begs two differing perspectives: Will she bring a FCO-related baggage with her into DFID? Or will she act in the realm of international development? Unlike Stewart’s posting, it should also be emphasised that this is a joint ministerial post. Why the need to join them together?
Ok, down to James Wharton, the junior in the group. His immediate previous appointment was “Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse”. The Northern Powerhouse was a proposal to boost economic growth in the North of England, starting by the then Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. Under the new May government, this post has been downgraded into a nationwide agenda for boosting productivity outside the south-east. Anyway, this bring in some one with some background in economic growth to DFID. Whether he really applied what he did in his previous role is another matter.
DFID may either have new ministers with some development or issues relating to development. Or it could mean a foreign policy, economic/market-centred DFID, ala the old Overseas Development Administration (ODA, not to be confused with Official Development Assistance). Tune in to another blog post later.