I returned joyfully from my travels having made a point of avoiding any “serious” news but couldn’t help giggling at Godfrey “Bloomer” Bloom’s (UKIP) comment about giving foreign aid to Bongo Bongo land. His language was lazy, disrespectful and old-fashioned (although he did try to wriggle out of it by claiming that a Bongo was, in fact, a white antipode that lives in the forest – assumedly an African one, and therefore he wasn’t being ignorant or racist at all). Unfortunately, while I believe that this topic should become a matter of more urgent discussion, his silly language sadly detracted from an important debate about whether, in these chastened times, we should be maintaining (let alone increasing) our foreign aid budget, while cutting services at home et cetera, et cetera.

If Mr Bloom had actually removed his head from his rectum, he might have suggested that foreign aid COULD be defined as poor people from rich countries donating money to rich people from poor countries which brings accountability sharply into focus. There are 3 lines of debate that we can take here.

First, that as a G5 member and former grand imperialist power, it is incumbent upon us to set an example to the world and be seen to be benevolent to many of the world’s less fortunate nations (a more cynical observer might point to a country still wanting to believe that it has some influence on world affairs and by implication foreign governments).

Second, that charity should start at home and that frankly the above definition would apply and in any case what does foreign aid actually achieve? In Africa, China is literally buying up governments by building schools, hospitals and other assorted infrastructure in exchange for joint ventures and consequently control of local resources. That is, whether we approve of the morality or not it is a very pragmatic approach and one with a specific purpose and direct line of objective. On the other hand, giving money in a light touch sort of way in the vague hope that the countries you give it too will be friendly and that their rulers won’t nick it and will give you lots of trade instead, is a tad naïve perhaps.

Third, you just say enough already. We are no longer an imperial power and should frankly concentrate on our own issues and problems, unless of course there is an emergency, whereupon as good world citizens we should give generously of both our cash and our expertise. No one can argue with that.

The point is that it is up to our political masters to stop assuming they know best and MAKE a case for foreign aid to us their people, just as they will have to do if they wish to achieve a yes vote when the European referendum is held OR that both sides will have to do in Scotland if the wish to win their referendum on nationhood. So come on Dave, stop making wet off the cuff comments like “it stops immigration if people have jobs to go to in their own countries”. Yeah Dave we are that stupid! Take the argument to the people!

Kwaheri readers (which for you “Bloomer” means goodbye in Swahili)