Amidst the flurry of point and counterpoint being made about the Robin Hood Tax, this blog tucked away on the nether regions of the Telegraph’s website caught my eye as did some of the comments beneath it. I must admit I particularly enjoyed reading the following:
“This is the worst article I’ve ever read in The Telegraph. And being a conservative, I am a regular reader. To say that the tax is the “stupidest idea” and that all its supporters have no economic literacy is arrogant, rude and completely inaccurate. Especially given that you offer no arguments for why the Robin Hood tax would not be very effective. Instead you give a boring and irrelevant history lesson on the Robin Hood legend.”
I’m not going to comment on the tax – there’s lots of stuff already and you can follow ActionAid’s thinking here - except to make one point as the author Ed West did question the economic literacy of coalition members. And as a head of media relations with a degree in economics I just can’t let that one go. Ed, we’re in the company of 350 eminent economists in calling for a tax on currency speculation.
But I would like to list a few bullet points in response to some throwaway remarks that were made about aid, and the fact that ActionAid amongst others applies for and gets grants from the UK government’s Department for International Development and other institutions, which we see as a vote of confidence in the way we deliver our work.
1. UK government aid is a tiny proportion of total government spending (slightly less than 1 per cent).
2. Less than 5 per cent of UK development spend is through UK charities.
3. UK charities are world-class and have an excellent impact on the ground.
4. The British public still expects the UK to continue to lead the world in responding to the challenges of poverty as donations to the joint agency Haiti emergency appeal have shown. The UK’s aid budget is the official expression of that expectation.
And two final points: why aren’t we all more proud of the good we can do in the world and why don’t more of us celebrate the campaigning that works to ensure the vast majority of people are helped and not just a relative few?