SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: The news here, there and everywhere

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

Throughout the constituency, local people support charities that work for good overseas.

I served as a trustee of Christian Aid, seeing directly the effect of aid for education, especially for girls, for the supply of clean water and better waste services.

I am proud to meet those concerned for the plight and for the opportunities for others, in this country and abroad.

If you have the opportunity, do read the article on world progress in The Times yesterday by Daniel Finkelstein.

‘Here’s how to make the world a better place’ is the headline as he writes that we fail to appreciate how much our quality of life has improved and how to ensure it continues on an upward path.

This is relevant as The Queen meets this week with the Commonwealth Heads of Government in London.

Because of economic growth, people and their countries become richer, more liberal and more equal.

‘As we write about day-to-day political rows and economic setbacks, we often miss the bigger story about how the world is getting better.’

Danny, Lord Finkelstein, praises the book by Hans Rosling, Factfulness.

He describes it as an assault on ignorance and on pessimism.

It is out-dated to think of the countries of the world divided into two groups: better-off with small families and poor with many children and high child mortality.

Now, unlike 50 years ago, three quarters of the world’s population live in middle-income countries, starting to live a reasonable life

These changes were not inevitable.

Bill Gates, now a great philanthropist, says the only reason things have improved is because people get upset about things and decide to do something about it.

Helping countries improve government, improve public health, establish the rule of law and freeing fair elements of choice and market exchange is not magic.

Understand the world we share; then act sensibly.

We know the power of national television, alerting generations of children and their families to needs in this country and in others.

The Herald and Gazette newspapers do the same locally.

I think that is why there exists strong quiet support and approval for the United Kingdom continuing to meet the official United Nations’ agreed commitment for giving 70 pence of every £100 of our income to helping others.

When I meet younger constituents in the colleges and schools, and when I meet faith groups in church, chapel, tabernacle and mosque, I congratulate them on their own aid efforts.

No one should think this is at the expense of noticing and trying to meet local needs.

We can do both.

Hans Rosling used his family as an illustrative example.

When his grandmother was born in 1863, Swedes had the income and social circumstances akin to Afghanistan.

When Hans was born in 1948, Sweden, now one of the richest countries, was like Egypt today.

We need the news to know what problems can be tackled.

We need curated, edited news to know what matters in facing our responsibilities together and as individuals contributing to the neighbours we know and to the fellow humans beyond sight.

We need each other.

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