AT this time of Covid’s outbreak anniversary, this week’s BBC TV Panorama programme did great work in bringing us back down to earth from PM Johnson’s over-glossed vaccine ‘high’.
It showed us the appalling squandering of billions of scarce public funds in the early days of scurried and corrupt supply contracts; both of tons of faulty PPE and a still-ineffective track-and-trace system, settled via Tory party connected suppliers and agents.
Despite Health Secretary Hancock being found guilty in the High Court of acting illegally in these matters, added to all this we now witness a “grotesque betrayal” of British values in the latest leaked shocking news about drastic UK overseas aid cuts – as described by Bob Geldof, 1985’s famous Live Aid leader.
These cuts to humanitarian aid of up to 93%, hitting so hard at the world’s poorest countries in very fragile regions, were revealed in plans hidden from MPs and the public.
For example, UK aid to Syria, where over 11 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, will be cut by 67%. South Sudan and Yemen, both on the brink of severe famines, will have aid cut by over half, while the Sahel, one of the world’s most destitute regions, will see support slashed by 93%.
These cuts will cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Total aid spending is already less than 1% of the UK’s gross national income. So while these cuts will make little difference to the UK public, they will devastate the poorest people in the world.
Surely everyone must now do their best to lobby local MPs, and as many others as possible, to get these horrendous cuts reversed. This tragedy is made more glaring by both Johnson and the Tory manifesto pledging so proudly to keep the 0.7% GDP spending for overseas aid, yet letting Chancellor Sunak reduce it to 0.5% last November after its earlier disastrous Foreign Office takeover.
Still, as we all know from Johnson’s promise to “die in a ditch” in autumn 2019 if a Brexit deal wasn’t done by October, his promises mean little and here it will be the world’s poorest dying to fill this ditch. What a hopeless way to try to create ‘global’ Britain again, or for us to lead others into COP26’s so-called world climate salvation!
Alan Debenham, Taunton