The most scandalous moment of Prime Minister’s Questions on 21 November happened before Theresa May even opened her mouth.
Minutes before the PM stood up to defend her deeply unpopular Brexit plan in parliament, international development secretary Penny Mordaunt took to the despatch box. She was responding to questions relating to her department, the Department for International Development (DFID). One such question came from the Conservative MP for New Forest West, Desmond Swayne, about two and a half minutes in.
He asked Mordaunt:
Will she take note of World Vision’s campaign on behalf of children in conflict, It Takes a World?
World Vision is a global Christian partnership which works “with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation”. It particularly focuses on helping children, launching the five-year-long ‘It Takes a World‘ campaign in 2017 to help end violence against them.
In response to Swayne highlighting the partnership’s work, Mordaunt said:
I will certainly do that and I praise them very much for the campaign and all the work that they do. Children in conflict zones are a priority for my department. And I would like to put on record our thanks to the Evening Standard for the War Child fundraising appeal that they have been doing.
She also reaffirmed her dedication to children in war zones in the media outlet she thanked above. In the Evening Standard, now run by Mordaunt’s former ministerial colleague George Osborne, she urged people not to let “them become a lost generation”. Noting her department’s efforts to help children affected by war, Mordaunt wrote:
I want others to follow our lead in helping to rebuild the shattered lives of children and heal the mental scars of war so they can look forward to their tomorrow.
As Mordaunt notes, the DFID is taking action to help young people in these circumstances. For example, it’s pledged to match “pound-for-pound” the first £500,000 donated to War Child “for children in the Central African Republic”. In 2017, it also promised to send another £50m of aid to Yemen, reportedly making it the third largest supplier of aid to the country.
But here’s the rub – and what makes Mordaunt’s comments so outrageous. The UK government is partly responsible for the “shattered lives” of children in war-torn countries because of its military, economic and diplomatic decisions. In the case of Yemen, it has supplied £4.7bn in arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015, according to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen that same year and continues to this day. The bombing campaign has, in large part, created the devastation in Yemen.
Meanwhile, the UK’s not just providing the arms for Saudi Arabia’s bloodshed. It’s got staff working in Saudi Arabia’s headquarters, where its targeting rooms are located. The UK is ‘liaising‘ with the country and providing “information, advice and assistance” due to its ‘strong’ military and diplomatic relationship.
Not fit for purpose
In short, some UK governmental departments make decisions that aid in the maiming, killing and tormenting of the world’s children. Then other departments, like the DFID, attempt to piece the “shattered lives” of surviving children back together; although to a lesser degree.
This government is truly shambolic. It can’t even seem to agree on a common, unifying goal like ‘don’t kill children’. That’s scandalous. Especially for ministers like Mordaunt who, despite now making emotional pleas for children in conflict, appeared perfectly comfortable working for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) just a couple of years ago.
Featured image via RT UK/YouTube
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?