We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of international development in the election campaign

Since the publication of the party manifestos over the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard a lot about the key differences in terms of economic, health and immigration policy, among others, writes Dr Sagarika Dutt.

But we haven’t heard very much about international development. The importance of this as an election issue should not be underestimated. The United Nations will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this year, building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals centred on poverty, health, education and the environment and were, to a large extent, shaped by the UN Conferences of the 1990s. The British government and civil society, including international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), have always claimed that they are committed to achieving these goals. But this cannot be taken for granted. The election manifestos provide clarity on the international developmental goals of the various political parties, and how much money they are willing to spend to achieve them. Unless a firm commitment is made by the political parties in their manifestos and voters are able to hold them to their promises, some of these policies may never be implemented. The good news is that there are now half a billion fewer people living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day, partly as a result of economic advances in the developing world, particularly in Asia. Continue reading

Sport and physical activity – firmly on the margins of political discussions

As the battle lines are drawn over the principal issues shaping the election campaign, and party manifestos unveiled, one area that will be conspicuous by its absence is that of sport and physical activity, writes Dr David Hindley.

I am probably on safe ground in predicting that you are unlikely to hear any pledges on investment in elite sport or strategies for promoting grassroots participation. No-one will promise a commitment to delivering high-quality physical education.

And yet there can be little doubt that sport over the years has become increasingly politicised. Governments around the world invest significant amounts of public money to encourage engagement in sport, whilst in the UK successive administrations have demonstrated great faith in the potential of sport both in its own right, but progressively for the achievement of wider social goals. In this way sport has been promoted as a relatively cost-effective antidote to a variety of social problems, and more generally to ‘improve’ both individuals and the communities in which they live. Continue reading