I for one have been filled with despair with Facebook posts which have the line
It's time we stop foreign Aid, for the short term, and spend it on helping our own people.Please re post if you agree.
and Labour MP Simon Danczuk made the suggestion while speaking to BBC Radio Manchester on Monday in the aftermath of the devastation which hit his Rochdale constituency. He said:
"Why do we spend money in Bangladesh when it needs spending in Great Britain? What we need to do is to sort out the problems which are occurring here and not focus so much on developing countries. That has to be our priority."
So I was delighted with Michael Sheen when guest editor on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme when he used his closing speech to debate the merits of using aid money to help victims of disasters closer to home, such as flood victims in York and other parts of the North.
Apparently Sheen has caused a storm of controversy by criticising calls for the foreign aid budget to be diverted to help flood victims.
And it is absolutely true. There is terrible, terrible poverty in this country; there are terrible conditions for certain people. 'And I can understand why people get so worried about giving money to other countries, but of course 0.7 per cent of the national income goes on foreign aid.'That is about being a member of the global community, taking that responsibility seriously. 99.3 per cent of course goes on what goes on in this country.
...And the argument, the false dichotomy of pushing British people against foreigners, or shirkers against strivers, it's a false argument.
'And it allows other people who have certain interests to get away with it.'The argument needs to be, "What is our government doing for people in our own country?"'