Increasing international aid and tackling inequality are not acts of altruism. We all benefit

Posted by Natalie Bennett on 5th June 2017

A religiously inspired question at tonight’s Sheffield Central hustings, appropriately in the King’s Centre, asked if we should love over enemies, and put others before ourselves, what policies did our party have to do that?

Pleasingly, for Labour, Lib Dem and the Yorkshire parties, candidates said they supported keeping the 0.7% of GDP pledged to aid spending. (There was no Tory representative.)

And there were references to tackling inequality in our society.

All good statements in and of themselves.

But I pointed out that they hadn’t entirely answered the question, for they ignored the fact that international aid and tackling inequality are good for all of us. They aren’t solely or even primarily altruistic, they are actions from which we all benefit.

I was proud to say that the Green Party wants to lift aid to 1% of GDP – to do more to create a more secure, stable world, which will make us all more secure and safer.

To take just one very obvious example, if we direct aid towards strengthening the health systems of West African countries, that could help to stop the next ebola epidemic, which could threaten us all, as the last did.

And I was delighted to say that the Green Party is a long-term champion of the universal basic income, which would ensure that no one in our society is left penniless, while wages, pensions and benefits are lifted to ensure that everyone can have a decent, secure life.

But that’s not altruism – that’s delivering a fairer, healthier more stable society. For as The Spirit Level powerfully demonstrated, everyone is better off in a more equal society, the wealthy as well as those with fewer financial resources.