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UK Africa Policy after Labour - ESRC Seminar Series

Seminar 2

Development Policy in a Context of Austerity & Coalition

13 May 2014, University of Birmingham

About the Seminar

This was the second seminar in an ESRC-funded series of events (2013-16) on UK Africa Policy after Labour. The event examined UK development relationships with Africa, exploring Labour's legacy, the impact of coalition government initiatives and questioning the role and importance of development in current and future UK-Africa relations. Questions considered included: what role do aid and development play in identities of UK political parties? What tensions emerge from 'new' coalition approaches to international development, including: the emphasis on 'value for money', demand for proof of measurable UK aid impacts, and the decision to devote significant UK aid to fragile states? How has the coalition sought to resolve these and with what success/implications?

PDF Executive Summary
PDF Seminar Programme

Blog by series team member Dr Steve Hurt

About the speakers

Professor Myles Wickstead, Open University
'Defining moments in UK Africa relations? The creation of DFID and the Commission for Africa'

Myles coordinated the 1997 White Paper 'Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century' and was Head of Secretariat to the Commission for Africa from 2004 to 2005. His presentation drew upon these experiences, amongst others, to explore UK Africa relations across a range of critical moments, including the role played by the UK in the Commission for Africa and the impact of the creation of DFID. The presentation can be heard here.

Kirsty McNeill, Themba HQ
'Idealism or Interests: What really drove Labour's Africa policy?'

Kirsty is a former Special Advisor to Gordon Brown. Drawing on her experiences working in policy and advising campaign organisations in international development she presented an overview of the rationale for the focus on Africa which developed during the periods of UK Labour government from 1997-2010. Her presentation concludes with reflections on the place of Africa in coalition policy and where Africa fits into Labour Party identity and politics during its time in opposition. The presentation can be heard here.

Donna Arrondelle, University College London (PhD candidate)
'Constructing UK International Development Policy: Representations in Public Engagement with Global Poverty'

Donna presented preliminary findings from her PhD research, which focuses on the ways that development is constructed as a policy problem. Through an analysis of news articles, policy documents and interviews she considered the understandings of development held by the British public and the extent to which public support exists for international development. The presentation is available here.

Meera Sabaratnam, School of Oriental and African Studies
'Flags, Hashtags and Value for Money: Development Aid under the Coalition'

Meera's presentation identified and mapped out seven key drivers of UK development policy. She also critically explored the mechanisms for managing UK aid which have been developed under the coalition administration since 2010. The presentation concluded with a discussion of the implications of these changes for public understandings of aid and for UK development advocacy on an international stage. You can hear the presentation here.

Jonathan Glennie, Overseas Development Institute
'Towards a new narrative on aid and international development in the UK'

Jonathan's presentation put forward the case for new directions in UK Africa relations. He argued that African states should be seeking to reduce the aid they receive from donor states such as the UK, and that the UK public understanding of aid and of Africa remains shallow due to the ways these are portrayed by the Labour and Conservative parties. A Youtube video of Jonathan Glennie's presentation can be found here and the transcript can be downloaded here.

BISA Africa and International Studies Working Group