Following the inability of their ‘star’ players to practise the simple skill of passing and controlling a football on Friday, I said I would not support England anymore. But like any good addict I will be back on Wednesday for another excruciating performance from England on the world stage.
One measure England do beat Slovenia on is the amount of aid they give. In 1970 the countries of western Europe all agreed to spend 70p out of every £100 they earn on overseas aid. England has never done this; it is currently spending 47p. But according to official figures, Slovenia isn’t giving any.
Slovenia isn’t as rich as England, but it is still well-off in world terms. The eastern European country has an income higher than Portugal.
‘Aid’ is a term which can mean lots of different things. During the Cold War, the western and eastern blocks used ‘aid’ to advance their military aims across the world. The people of Slovenia, then part of Yugoslavia, stood aside from this competition. Whilst Yugoslavia was communist, it was one of the founder-members of the neutral non-aligned movement.
‘Aid’ is also used to win valuable contracts for a country’s companies. In 1994, the World Development Movement won a landmark court case when it proved that UK ‘aid’ for building the Pergau dam in Malaysia had been given to win contracts for British companies, including arms deals, rather than for tackling poverty.
Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s ‘aid’ has been used to force developing countries to deregulate their economies for the benefit of multinational companies. The Conservative party prior to the 2010 UK election said that aid should be used to privatise public services in developing countries.
Despite all the problems of ‘aid’ the whoshouldicheerfor rankings still list it as positive. Aid seems like it should be a good thing; those with a lot give a little bit away to those with a lot less.
An alternative view of aid is to see it as compensation for past wrongs. From its central role in the transatlantic slave trade to its central and continuing role in causing the climate to change in catastrophic ways, England has a lot to compensate for. Slovenia would have a reasonable case that its compensation payments should be a lot less.
Central to compensation is not to keep on committing wrong. Any benefit from UK aid dwarfs in comparison to the way our unregulated banks increase hunger and the effects of our climate changing greenhouse gas emissions.
This is why I am proud to be part of the World Development Movement which campaigns to abolish the wrongs of the UK which cause poverty, rather than just giving the sticking plaster of aid.
Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the World Development Movement.