Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Hunger and Hypocrisy

So the United Nations' eight Millennium Development Goals are not on track.

The eight aims of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development now look unlikely to be achieved by the target year of 2015.

With the amount of wealth on this planet, there should not be millions of children in the world today dying of malnutrition. Those lucky enough to survive a childhood, face a bleak life without opportunity and education.

Conditions need to be changed so that developing countries have the opportunity to carve out their own future and generate their own wealth, otherwise talk of equality at the UN headquarters will be nothing more than rhetoric. The vicious circle of debt that sees a significant proportion of dependent countries’ GDP going on interest payments has to end, as must the external pressure to concentrate the economy’s fate on one or two cash crops that are vulnerable to volatile market forces. The demand to clamp down on the business elites in poor countries who hold their money in off-shore accounts also has to be taken seriously. The world's wealth has to be shared more equitably.

One of the more interesting stories from the New York meeting to discuss the Millennium Development Goals has centred on the views of Gordon Brown. The former Prime Minister expressed “anger” at the failure of rich nations to honour their pledges.

Is this the same Gordon Brown that as Chancellor and then, Prime Minister, protected the business elite in the city of London and failed to take action to restrain the casino capitalism that almost brought the UK's financial system to its knees? The money that has been found to prop up the institutions headed by greed-fuelled fat cats would have made a significant difference towards meeting the Millenium Development Goals.

This is the same Gordon Brown who presided over a widening of the gap between rich and poor in the UK in the 13 years New Labour had to correct the ills of a Tory Government.

He failed to lift a finger to prevent an illegal war in Iraq that saw endemic poverty increase throughout much of the country and essential services decimated.

The next time he gets onto his high horse, it may be wise for Mr Brown to consider the legacy he has left during the years he had power to implement real change.

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