Today Tony Blair is in Brussels. More on that here.
Yesterday he was in Westminster at the Queen’s Jubilee. More on that just below.
On Monday he was in London speaking on the future of Africa – (Speech as published in The Times here.
It’s hardly surprising if he doesn’t always know which door he’s supposed to be going through.
The media had some fun and games watching who was sitting next to whom and why in Westminster Hall as the Queen gave a speech to both Houses of Parliament to mark her 60 years on the throne. Avoiding fisticuffs between Messrs Blair & Brown was as usual, the preferred explanation for placing the speaker’s wife between the two former Prime Ministers. Since they have been seated next to each other at several high-profile events in recent times, without any sign of blood, this was an entirely invented excuse for twitterblab. As it happened Sally Bercow, the Speaker’s wife, got a lovely picture or two for her album. I can even see the caption now – ‘Sally between two last Labour Prime Ministers’. Hmm – did I mean “last two”? No – “two last”.
There were one or two other notable pictures at the event of our politicians.
THE KALEIDOSCOPE IS SHAKING ME
For instance, this one of David Cameron scowling somewhat at the speech by the Speaker in which he mentioned “kaleidoscope” three times. I ventured to tweet that three reminders of Tony Blair’s “the kaleidoscope has been shaken … pieces in flux” might have been three too many for Mr Cameron. In fact he was rather more likely to have been annoyed because Mr Bercow was publicising his own favourite charity. The Queen’s speech to both Houses was not a hijacking occasion.
And then there was this straightening things up moment as they waited for Her Majesty to arrive.
There were several pictures of Tony Blair in conversation with Ed Miliband. The latter now seeks the valued advice of the former, regularly. Naturally. But I rather enjoy pondering on the conversation or lack of in this one. More pictures here at DayLife
Read the full report for the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Office of the Quartet Representative Development Agenda in support of Palestinian Economic Sustainability and Institution Building
Quartet Representative Tony Blair said:
“This AHLC meeting in Brussels comes at a profoundly important time for the Palestinian Authority (PA). Amid a steep fiscal crisis, slowing economic trends and continuing political uncertainty, policy reforms and institution-building plans implemented by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are coming under increasing financial strain.
“While efforts continue to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, it is important in the coming period to redouble our efforts to shore up the fiscal position of the Palestinian Authority and to re-energize the Palestinian economy.
“Sustaining economic growth and job creation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will require new actions by various parties. These actions should aim at boosting investor confidence and further unlock the immense potential of the Palestinian private sector.
“My development agenda in 2012 focuses on seven thematic areas related to the economic growth and institution-building, specifically:
- Private sector development
- Promoting movement, access and trade facilitation
- Area C development
- Reconstructing and opening up Gaza economically;
- Improving living and business conditions in East Jerusalem;
- Improving the rule of law covering the judicial and security sectors;
- Strengthening the PA fiscal position.
“The goal of this development agenda, again, is to catalyse significant economic change on the ground to give greater oxygen to the political negotiation process. So the ‘ground-up’ economic agenda will continue to provide critical support to the ‘top-down’ political process.”
OQR’s Key Priorities in 2012
In 2012, Quartet Representative Tony Blair’s key priorities within this development agenda focus on four areas:
- Working with the PA to resolve the short-term and medium-term energy problems in Gaza;
- Promoting greater Palestinian trade flows between Gaza, the West Bank, and international markets;
- Promoting Area C development through agreed fast-tracking mechanisms and the active participation of local Palestinian communities;
- Pressing for greater direct budget support from regional and international donors to help the PA overcome its acute fiscal crisis.
The following oped by Tony Blair first appeared in The Times on Monday 19 March 2012.
For most of my first term as Prime Minister, bad news about Africa was all I heard. Brutal conflict engulfed Sierra Leone and Liberia. Rwanda was emerging from a genocide that had decimated its population. It was the era of Drop the Debt: petitions and letters piled up in Downing Street for the campaign. As ever, the British public gave their support generously, but perhaps with a sense that the problems were intractable, that this was the same old African story.
But I was always an optimist about Africa. I believed that things would and could be different. Now, 15 years later, they are. Africa is on the move. And to keep up with a changing Africa we need new thinking and new approaches.
Africa’s economies are booming. Over the past decade, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past ten years, sub-Saharan Africa has grown faster than East Asia. Aid has helped: the doubling of aid to Africa that I championed at Gleneagles in 2005 has strengthened, not stymied Africa’s progress. Africa has seen the largest recent turnaround in poverty of any region, malaria rates have fallen by a fifth in the past decade, and rates of HIV-Aids have plummeted.
The debt relief campaign has liberated African economies from the burden of indebtedness, allowing them to compete globally. Government funds that once went to service debt now go on public services. In Nigeria, a country of 170 million people, 70 per cent of whom live on less than $1.25 a day, the millions saved have been piled back into healthcare, with vaccination levels rising from 10 per cent to 65 per cent in places. Thousands of lives have been saved each year. And the progress on malaria, Aids and measles is spread right across the continent.
Africa is also benefiting from the movement of capital, skills, and technology, particularly from the new economic powerhouses of China, Brazil and India; taking the best of what has been learnt the hard way by West and East and applying it from Maputo to Monrovia.
However, the main thing changing Africa is Africa itself. There is one indispensable thing that cannot be imported: government. Here, too, things have improved. The number of democracies in sub-Saharan Africa has skyrocketed from three in 1989 to 23 in 2008. Since 1991, African governments have been defeated at the ballot box 30 times. Between the 1960s and 1991 that happened only once. To seize this moment, African governments across the continent must step up to lead the way. I see a new generation of leaders emerging, ready to take their countries’ destinies into their own hands, no longer dependent on outside assistance. This is achievable. I believe that we can end African countries’ dependence on aid within a generation. But it will need a new approach, a new partnership between developed and developing world.
This new approach has three elements. First, African governments need the capacity to deliver tangible results for their citizens. Democracy is spreading and deepening across the continent, but too often democratically elected leaders come to power on a wave of popular enthusiasm only to find that they lack the government institutions to implement the changes their people expect. African governments must be supported to build the systems and institutions they need to get things done. I set up my charity, the Africa Governance Initiative, which now has projects in five countries, to provide exactly that support, but the lesson is much wider and should become integral to our approach to development.
Second, Africa needs a vibrant private sector. Development will only become self-sustaining when it is based on a private sector that creates jobs, opportunities and incomes. And the private sector can only thrive when the right infrastructure is in place: roads to bring goods to market; airports and ports to enable trade; and behind all this, power to switch on the lights to make commerce possible. These aren’t new points. But, as Bill Gates told G20 leaders last year, infrastructure development must be prioritised, by African governments and their partners.
Third, we need a new way of rich and poor countries working together. The old way, where the rich world gives and the poor world passively receives, is an anachronism. African countries must be in the driving seat of their own development, setting priorities and making decisions. Where aid is needed, it should get behind these priorities to strengthen governments’ own systems.
These changes in how we work with Africa are necessary. But perhaps the biggest change that is needed is less tangible: a change in our expectations. Too often when we think of Africa we conjure up outdated images of a generation ago. In trying to galvanise global support for aid, I admit I played my part in this, characterising Africa as a scar on the conscience of the world. But Africa today is moving forward at a dizzying pace; our attitudes, how we think of, and talk about Africa must keep pace. I look forward to the day when people open a newspaper to read about African entrepreneurs creating jobs, African researchers developing breakthrough technologies, African elections running smoothly and think … this is the way I expect it to be.
Also see – A New Approach to a New Africa
- Current Latest Page
- All blog posts 2012 + Original, 2006 onwards – Contents of Site – Index
- Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here