North East CALL TO ACTION (NE-CAP) , the regional global poverty and climate change campaign, sent a set of straightforward questions to candidates for the European Parliament. Replies were received, with sincere thanks, from Green, Labour, LibDem and UKIP candidates.
One agreeable surprise was the strength and extent of support for the
positions championed by the campaign relating to the role of transparency in
international financial dealings – to promote tax justice, so that giant
corporations pay poor country governments the tax that is their due; to
publish what companies pay to governments; and shine a light on the origins
of the debts of poor countries. Perhaps candidates for Europe have more
latitude and can more fully express their convictions than their Westminster
However, David Golding chided Labour for its tepid support for debt audits,
and stated that the reputation of the Liberal Democrat party has been
seriously damaged by the refusal of Vince Cable, the relevant minister, to
institute an audit of debts owed to Britain – a stance which flies in the face of the party’s previous, explicit statement on the matter.
The UKIP candidate stood out by introducing the subject of, and making
clear his opposition to, international aid. He cited examples of poor
practice, but ignored the immense the good it’s doing – in helping to
reduce childhood mortality since 1990 by nearly a half, for example.
One question related to climate change and quoted Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, a leading scientist, stating that “the clear message of
the science” is “the need for substantial emission reductions”.
The Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates all made it clear that
they accepted this message and would work for its fulfilment.
Jonathan Arnott, the lead UKIP candidate, speaking in a personal capacity,
was unable to endorse this position, as would be expected given the climate
scepticism of his party. For NE-CAP, David Golding says: “Unhappily, UKIP
seems to be taking the equivalent of the ‘Thabo Mbeki option’ in relation to
climate change. The former president of South Africa thought he knew better
than all the world’s medical experts and refused to believe that AIDS is
caused by a virus, HIV. His failure to make treatment available resulted in
the needless deaths of over 300,000 people. Similarly, I believe that UKIP
has forfeited the right to occupy any position of power or influence by its
obdurate rejection of the science of climate change, a far more serious
issue.” He commends to anyone not ‘wilfully blind’ the recent joint
publication on climate change by the Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences, entitled “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes”.
The unedited text of the responses by the candidates, and a ‘Commentary’ on them by David Golding, have been sent to NE-CAP supporters throughout the region, who have been encouraged to get out and vote! [They can be accessed at www.ne-calltoaction.org.uk/blog/?p=115]
Contact: David W. Golding CBE PhD DSc DCL
Associate, Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, and Honorary Chaplain, Newcastle University;
Development Coordinator, North East CALL TO ACTION on global poverty and climate change.
Notes for Editors:
Questions for Candidates in the European Elections, 2014
Climate change is already wreaking havoc in the poorest countries and,
according to Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Party III
(“Mitigation of Climate Change”) of the IPCC,
“Climate policies in line with the two degree Celsius goal need to aim for
substantial emission reductions.This is the clear message of the science.”
Our question: “Do you accept this ‘clear message’, and will support such
GLOBAL POVERTY & TRANSPARENCY
Our question: “If elected, will you supporting greater transparency in the
accounts and ownership of multinational companies, so that all governments
can make sure they are receiving the tax they are owed?”
‘Publish What You Pay’
On 12th June 2013, the European Parliament voted in new laws requiring oil,
gas and mining companies to publish what they pay to foreign governments.
Our question: “Will you support the rapid implementation of this
legislation, without any watering down, and will you support the EU in
pressing for the adoption of such laws by other countries?”
‘Audit the Debts’
Our question: “Will you support the impartial audit of debts owed by
developing countries to the EU and its members – just as Norway is already
doing, and as the SNP is promising to do if Scotland becomes independent?”