Yesterday John Major added his tuppence to the foreign aid debate ahead of the vote, opining that
“It seems that we can afford a “national yacht” that no-one either wants or needs, whilst cutting help to some of the most miserable and destitute people in the world.
This is not a Conservatism that I recognise. It is the stamp of Little England, not Great Britain.”
Whatever your view of the merits of a national yacht – Guido seriously doubts the merits of a luxury yacht paid for by taxpayers – some of us are old enough to remember that when he was PM, Major also planned to build a yacht:
“We have taken that decision because we believe that a Royal Yacht is an important national asset and projects a prestigious image of Britain which adds powerfully to official occasions and to Major government even went as far as to say “we believe that a new royal yacht—a symbol of the nation’s pride—should be funded not by sponsorship or subscription, but by the nation.”
Construction didn’t go ahead because he lost the election to Tony Blair. Even more hypocritical of Major, though, is the fact that during his premiership foreign aid was lower than it was than under any premier in living memory – he left office with foreign aid at the lowest point, lower than it was under Thatcher, lower than it was when Britain was begging the IMF for a loan in the seventies. Now Major wants British taxpayers to borrow money to give away in foreign aid at more than double the level it was under his entire term in office…