Now being banned is not new for the World Development Movement. In 2006, the Singapore government banned us from attending the World Bank annual meeting after we called for the World Bank and IMF to be abolished. The Singapore government has a track record of stifling voices of opposition and the ban was subsequently overturned after protests from around the world, including from UK MPs and even the World Bank itself.
This ban by ‘Number 10’ is inexplicable. The World Development Movement is one of the coordinators on the Put People First alliance. And as such on Saturday, I was part of the Put People First delegation that met with Ed Miliband, Gareth Thomas and Stephen Timms at 'Number 11' before the march for jobs, justice and climate.
There is an understandable desire by the organisers of the G20 to ensure that outcomes of the summit are as positive as possible. However they need to avoid the perception that the stage management of such events does not prevent voices of dissent and disagreement from being heard. And the banning of the World Development Movement and War on Want, two organisations that are typically critical of the government’s free trade agenda that does not benefit the poorest people in the world certainly does not help with this perception.
The Put People First alliance is a uniting of unions, environmental groups, trade justice groups, religious groups uniting for the first time around a common manifesto. As the G20 leaders gather today spin will be no replacement for action. A communiqué that doesn’t signpost radical change to set the global economy on course for decent jobs, economic justice and low-carbon development will be judged as a bitter disappointment and just be tomorrow’s recycled toilet paper.