David Cameron insisted yesterday that his decision to pour billions more into foreign aid at a time of austerity was a sign of ‘moral strength’. The Prime Minister confronted critics within his own party by insisting that everyone in Britain should be proud that ‘we never turn our backs on the world’s poorest’. Many Tories are furious at the decision to increase aid spending by 34 per cent to more than £11billion while most public services are facing steep cuts.
The Conservative Party broke with convention last night to use its annual party political broadcast to launch an appeal for the public to give money to charities working to relieve the drought in East Africa. Around 40 MPs and cabinet ministers – including David Cameron, George Osborne and William Hague – delivered brief comments during the short film.
The broadcast, which started with Mr Hague, began by mocking the more traditional party political broadcasts and finished with the Prime Minister making a serious appeal for donations to the East Africa Appeal. Cynics immediately dismissed the broadcast as a ‘stunt’ and questioned whether the decision to focus on the famine is a ploy for the party to bolster its compassionate image.
Mr Cameron’s controversial aid pledge will see spending rise from £7.5billion last year to £11.4billion in 2013 – an increase of 34 per cent after taking inflation into account. The Prime Minister said: ‘Leadership in the world is about moral strength as much as military might.’