Last Friday night, it was my turn to meet with my local MP Sir Gerald Howarth to urge him to take immediate action on hunger in the forthcoming budget on 20 March – and I had a LOT of help from a whole host of fantastic people!
Supporters from aid agencies such as CAFOD, Oxfam, Christian Aid and parishioners from a range of churches across Aldershot and Farnborough as well as local students from Salesians College joined me in meeting Sir Gerald to express our concern about the two million children who die from malnutrition every year and to protest the scandal that 900 million people go hungry in a world that produces enough food.
Everyone around the table is a supporter of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which is, as regular readers of this blog will know, a coalition of more than 100 organisations, working together to demand changes to the food system that will benefit hungry people.
MPs, including Sir Gerald are being asked to write to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to ensure they keep their promises on aid to poor countries and crack down on tax dodging by big companies which costs poor countries three times the amount they receive in UK aid.
To highlight the importance of George’s Osborne’s budget, which is annually presented in a red box outside 11 Downing Street, students from Salesians College in Farnborough brought along a red ‘IF’ campaign box and voiced their support for life-saving aid and tackling tax dodging, both big IFs which could help begin to end hunger.
Everyone felt very strongly that we need the government keep the 43 year old promise to deliver what’s needed on development aid The students in particular were able to talk about their direct experience of working in Zambia.
However, as we explained to Sir Gerald, we all realise that aid on its own won’t do the whole job. We also want Osborne to force big companies to stop fiddling the system and spill the beans about the taxes they owe to developing countries. Closing the corporate tax gap is a win-win situation – for hard working people in the developing world and the UK alike.
Sir Gerald spoke to us for over an hour and said he would think about what we’d said, particularly around the issue of tax.
It was a long meeting and a pretty cold Friday evening but well worth it. We could be the generation to stop hunger and we all want to do everything in our power to make that happen.
Thank you to everyone who came to the lobby and to Sir Gerald for listening to our views.
Only a few more days to take action folks – so if you haven’t already done so – please contact your MP via our website http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Take-action-today/IF-Budget-campaign
The Enough Food for Everyone IF Coalition are also asking supporters to write to George Osborne directly too before Sunday 17 March 2013. They are hoping that we’ll reach a minimum of 1,000 personal letters as this is the minimum number to get the issue on the radar of Treasury officials and the Chancellor himself. More information on this can be found on: