Sunday, 21 November 2010

Crosland Memorial lecture

This week I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Grimsby's Anthony Crosland Memorial lecture. If live in or around Grimsby and don't know what the Memorial Lecture is then I don't really blame you as this the first we've had for about five or six years and the last speaker was Roy Hattersly.

The Crosland Memorial Lecture is unsurprisingly a lecture held in honour of Grimsby MP and former Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland, and is organised by the local Labour party though attendance is open to anyone and free (they pay for it via donations), for those unfamiliar with the work of Corsland, highlights include taking Henry Kissenger to a Grimsby Town (Mariners) match instead of having a meeting with him, though to be fair to him he only held that position for a year 1976-77 and died shortly after spending quite a bit of his time in the position quite ill so there wasn't any fundamental policy breaks from his predecessors in Callaghan's and Wilson's governments.

He was however extremely active outside of the Foreign office, other posts included Secretary of state for education and science, President of the board for trade and Secretary of state for local government. In fact his most memorable quote comes from his time overseeing education "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland" Well said Tony well said. Outside of Cabinet entirely Crosland was also very influential his book the future of Socialism written published in 1956 caused quite a stir arguing for a mixed economy and a halt to nationalisation, in fact if Crosland were still a live today he'd probably be a Social Democrat, which is funny given that the man who replaced as Foreign Secretary was David "SDP" Owen.

The speaker this year was none other then Helen Clark former Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand and current head of the UN development Programme which puts here in the top 3 positions of power for that organisation. Now I don't wish Mr Hattersly any disrespect but theres a bit of a gap between the two, Former Deputy leader of the opposition, no one times 5, then former national leader and 20th most powerful women in the world.

Her Lecture concerned the issues of International development, the problems faced the problems yet to be faced such as climate change, and the solutions and there practical effects. When it came to the eradication of poverty and the Millennium development goals she mentioned that there doing well... so long as you include China, if you take China out of the analysis then the average falls short of the goals which is to cut absolute poverty by half, absolute poverty being those who live on a dollar and a half or less, however Ghana is also doing well in this area and many African states have seen a number of concrete improvements in infrastructure and services so its not all bad in that area, though relativistic poverty is a curse all over the globe and little is being done about that.

The questions section was a bit hit and miss one person raise the issue of population growth and what can be done about it, if you've heard about the "solutions" to over population you've probably been forced to suffer through some keyboard eugenicist ranting about sterilisation or some sort of death lottery. Helen's response was both more compassionate and made more sense, give women the choice in the matter. Simple really societies were sexual education is normal, where contraceptives are available and affordable and there's no impinging social factor against there use and coupled with decent health care to reduce death by pregnancy and the population levels stabilise and the growth rate goes down there by reducing the pressure on resources.

And its true the nuclear family model is the standard family model in the northern hemisphere and it wasn't always so, my Mother was one of eleven and myself am one of Five, hell in some nations its arguably worked to well with the population growth actually becoming a negative trend.

All in all a very good talk, it'll be interesting to see who they get next year (if any one).

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