(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
25th October 2012
Andrew Mitchell has gone. He was one of my heroes. He was by far the best Secretary of State for International Development we have ever had.
He was one of the few to grasp that the underlying cause of poverty in Africa and in other developing countries was repeated doubling of their populations, and he did his best to provide poor women, who wanted to limit their families, access to family planning.
In July, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he organized the London Summit on Family Planning at which the Prime Minister made an excellent speech starting: “We’re here for a very simple reason: women should be able to decide freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they have….. It’s absolutely fundamental to any hope of tackling poverty in our world.”
There are no votes in advocating family planning for poor people in developing countries. In fact, because it offends against political correctness, advocating it means a loss of votes and support and esteem so that virtually no politician, or aid agency, or religious leader will campaign for it. The consequence is that extreme poverty will continue in Africa for the foreseeable future. Many national leaders know this: only Andrew Mitchell has campaigned about it. I hope he comes back soon.