The Coalition at Conservative Party Conference 2018


Author: Katie Husselby

The Coalition team headed to Birmingham for Conservative Party Conference this week where, fresh from the UN General Assembly, our CEO Theo Clarke joined the Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt on the main stage. Penny Mordaunt provided some brief opening remarks, followed by the Coalition for Global Prosperity hosting the remaining thirty minutes of the 'Global Britain' international development slot.

This included an opening address by Theo Clarke, followed by speeches from 'Coalition Voices' including Major General James Cowan (HALO Trust), entrepreneur Dominic McVey (Hela Clothing), Eve Conway (Rotary) and video links from Richard Curtis, Nick Herbert MP and Becky Platt (nurse frontline worker).

Theo reminded Conservative delegates of the ‘win-win’ of development: helping the most vulnerable in the world, whilst simultaneously keeping UK citizens safe, secure and prosperous.

Attendees also heard from Major General James Cowan about the great work UK aid is funding alongside the Halo Trust to remove landmines around the world. Additionally, Dominic McVey spoke on the intersection of aid and trade, and Eve Conway from Rotary International on the astounding progress UK aid has supported in the fight against polio.

I lead a business which generates over £200m in revenue…I am focused on breaking the cycle of poverty in the poorest parts of the world, and it honestly would not be possible without the support of the UK Government.
— Dominic McVey (Director, Hela)

Keeping development high on the conference agenda, the Coalition for Global Prosperity also partnered with the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) to co-host a debate titled ‘Should Charity Being and End at Home?’

Michael Mapstone, Owen Barder, Theo Clarke, Harriett Baldwin, Bim Afolami, James Price

 120 Conservative delegates joined the speakers;  Michael Mapstone (Charities Aid Foundation), Harriett Baldwin MP (Minister for Africa, FCO and DFID), Bim Afolami MP, Owen Barder (Center for Global Development), James Price (TaxPayers’ Alliance) and chair Theo Clarke.

Charity begins at home but does not end there. It is incredibly important that we work as the development superpower that we are.
— Harriett Baldwin MP

Following a general consensus of agreement that charity begins at home but need not end there, the panellists engaged in a lively debate around the 0.7% aid allocation, the dynamics of trade and aid, and the importance of building infrastructure around programmes.

It is ultimately in this country’s interest to make poverty history, and we should communicate that.
— Bim Afolami MP
It’s misleading to claim that aid has caused all the improvements we have seen. But it’s also crazy to not acknowledge the achievements aid has achieved. If people could see that they wouldn’t have this doubt that their aid is making a difference.
— Owen Barder

The Coalition also hosted a private roundtable for senior parliamentarians at Conservative conference. Attendees discussed a range of issues including the Conservatives’ vision for international development and how development fits into the Government’s Global Britain narrative.

The following day, Theo switched from chair to panellist for the TaxPayers’ Alliance debate titled ‘How do we get value from the aid budget?’ Theo sat alongside Rt Hon Priti Patel MP (former Secretary of State for International Development), Pauline Latham MP (International Development Committee), Ian Birrell (The Mail on Sunday), James Price (TaxPayers’ Alliance), with the panel chaired by Andy Silvester (The Sun).

Beyond being the right and moral thing to do as a global superpower, Theo argued that investing in aid is truly in the national interest. Whether keeping Ebola or heroin smuggled through Tanzania from our shores, or creating our trading partners of tomorrow through investing in job creation, aid is making UK citizens safer and more prosperous.

Theo Clarke, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Andy Silvester, Pauline Latham MP, Ian Birrell

Theo also pointed out the value to be gained from joining up government efforts, and breaking down Whitehall silos. Utilising North-East Nigeria as an example, Theo cited the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development preventing the rise of Boko Haram and terrorist ideology.

Other topics discussed included the validity of 0.7, whether ODA is best spent through DFID or other Whitehall Departments and public attitudes on aid.