On Red Nose Day I wanted to tell you I'm 100% committed to international development

This evening I debated with the Tory, Lib Dem and UKIP candidates at St Gabriel's School. Of course we disagreed on a lot of things but nothing got me more angry than when the UKIP candidate argued for getting rid of most of Britain's international development budget.

International development is so important. I'm so proud of our record in Government on this issue which means so much to me. Labour formed the Department for International Development, we started the move to increase aid to 0.7% of GDP and we led the world on debt cancellation for the world's poorest countries at the 2005 G8 summit.

There is still so much more to do.


It isn't just morally right to help those most in need but it makes cold, hard economic sense too. Aid is an investment. The future for our economy is all about high value manufacturing, about creative industries and services. To have such products and services are nothing but a dream for the majority of people in developing countries who are just happy to have something, anything to eat and drink. The more we can help developing countries develop and grow their economies now so that they can provide for their whole populations then the more likely that in future those citizens will become customers for the goods our economy produces.

Yet the reason I got so, so angry today was because it IS, of course, a moral cause too.

Too many people, every day, are dying from preventable diseases because they lack proper sanitation or access to basic healthcare. Too many people don't have jobs and when they do they don't pay more than a pittance. Too many children aren't able to go to school and worse too many children are soldiers in conflicts where they have no idea why they're fighting.

We can change this. We already are - slowly. But we need to push other G8 nations to live up their commitments too. If all of them invested 0.7% of their GDP like we now do then the difference we could make would be monumental.

We can only continue to lead the world if continue to lead by example. I'm proud of Britain's commitment to international development and it angered me so much that on Red Nose Day - a show of Britain's generous soul - that Newbury's UKIP candidate chose to discuss with glee the idea of cutting aid to the world's poorest countries.

Enjoy Red Nose Day today tonight, please donate and thank you to all those who have done something to raise money for it this year.