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10 May 2007

Development

Louise Richards, former head of international relations at UNISON, is Chief Executive of War on Want

By Louise Richards

Tony Blair’s legacy will always be overshadowed by the Middle East.

Even without the horror of Iraq, Blair’s support for Israel in its wars against the Palestinian and Lebanese people has all but destroyed Britain’s reputation in the region, just as sanctions against the democratically elected Palestinian government stand in shameful contrast to the trade preferences with which we reward Israel for its aggression.

On international development, the record looks less bleak. After years of Tory cuts, the Labour government finally agreed a date of 2013 to meet the UN aid target of 0.7% of gross national income. It also accepted the principle of debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries – a major victory for campaigners.

Yet when it comes to the structural causes of world poverty, Blair has failed to make the changes needed to make a difference. Blair has teamed up with his old ally Peter Mandelson, now EU trade commissioner, in pressing developing countries to open their markets to European companies, with no regard to the poverty and exploitation which this brings in its wake.

A global economy needs global justice, yet Blair has pandered to corporate interests over people’s needs.

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