Huw Jones on the merits of international aid

water_supply11:42 Friday 26th September 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Earlier on in the show we were talking to Patrick O’Flynn, who’s the Parliamentary Candidate for UKIP in Cambridge, and we were getting his reaction to what Nigel Farage says, that he wouldn’t support the Government’s plan for air strikes in Iraq when they vote today, and that they’d cut various things in order to support an income tax cut in this country. One of the things they would cut is overseas aid. And listening to that earlier was Huw Jones. He’s the Prospective Labour MP for South East Cambridgeshire. Huw, Patrick got your goat, didn’t he?
HUW JONES: Yes he did. I think it’s a very short-sighted attitude to cut international aid, because essentially we’re buying influence and power at a far better deal than if we send troops in. Had we spent maybe a tenth of the amount we spent on fighting in Afghanistan on nation-building and helping the people there, we’d have friends in that country, rather than the mess, and it would have saved us an awful lot of blood and treasure in the long run.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Somebody did make that point earlier, that it’s the way you have to do trade with some countries. You help them out with a bit of aid and they’ll give you a few contracts for airplanes or machinery or whatever.
HUW JONES: I think it’s soft power rather than hard power. It’s a very good way of gaining influence in the world, rather than sending the troops in or sending the bombers in.
PAUL STAINTON: But then again, on the flip-side of that, many of our listeners listening to what Patrick had to say would have been cheering, and saying woop woop. Yes. It’s about time we looked after our own rather than giving money abroad, particularly to India or somewhere like that. Half their population starving and they’re sending people to Mars.

HUW JONES: I think we are looking after the interests of our country, because we’re buying influence, we’re winning contracts overseas. I think a little bit of money in foreign aid goes a long way to making Britain a peer, a good place to do business, and a good place to have a relationship with, rather than a more belligerent stance, which Mr Cameron seems to be taking on at the moment.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. But UKIP nevertheless, they’re gunning for you, aren’t they? They’re having their conference in Doncaster, a Labour stronghold. Income tax cuts today, these are populist policies, aren’t they? They could take some votes from you.
HUW JONES: They could indeed, and I have to confess that when Mr Farage says that David Cameron is bombing without a coherent plan, I suspect he’s right. I do fear that Cameron’s making this announcement to overshadow the UKIP conference, rather than from a real reason of policy.
PAUL STAINTON: Really? You think that seriously?
HUW JONES: If I was a cynical person I would ask that question.
PAUL STAINTON: In your opinion then, are we replicating the mistakes we made under Tony Blair?
HUW JONES: I fear that we may be. If we don’t have a coherent plan to do the diplomacy and the nation-building afterwards, we will be replicating the mistakes.
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Huw Jones, Prospective Labour MP for South East Cambridgeshire. If we give aid and not war, Afghanistan would be on our side. We need to give aid to these countries, because it helps influence business.