Recently I noticed the Daily Mail had a front-page article calling for the UK Foreign Aid budget to be spent on flood damage within the UK. Today I realised they have made it into a petition! I'm slightly sickened that the opportunistic rabble-rousers at the Mail think it's appropriate to attack some of the world's poorest people in such an unnecesary way.
They are wrong, and here's why.
The UK is NOT facing a choice between supporting UK flood victims on one hand, and taking tiny steps to alleviate grinding third-world poverty and assist with natural disasters abroad on the other. We CAN do both.
Even if we need to cut SOME spending to afford the extra cost of the floods in the UK, does it really make sense to target something that gets less that 0.7% of the budget? After all, that is less than 70p out of every £100 of tax we pay. Surely there are budgets with more fat to trim?
If the Mail wants to pick on someone, why not campaign for the money to come out of MP's latest payrises or pensions, or from a tax on the businesses which made profits building in the flood plains in the first place, or from pay and bonus cuts for what are effectively "civil servants" running the nationalised failing Banks which got us into this recession in the first place, or maybe even a windfall tax on those who profited the most as the rest of us lost out, through falling house prices, real-price pay cuts, and austerity?
There is something unsavoury about journalists, exploiting the suffering of flood victims in the UK, to call for cuts on those who are even poorer, even worse off. We - even those in flooded areas - are still part of the world's richest 1%. If we in the West expect our 1% to shoulder their share of the burden, can we deny our responsibility to the World's 99%?
Surely the remaining 99.5% or so of the UK's budget can somehow stand the strain of solidarity with those among us who are in need?