More than two years after his high-profile departure from Downing Street, Damian McBride is back in action.
Gordon Brown’s former media handler was once described by The Sun as ‘bred to kill’. Just weeks ago he started at Cafod, a charity which works to save lives in more than 40 countries.
I gave McBride a bell this week to find out how he was dealing with the recent right-wing backlash against overseas aid spending.
He told me he was ‘getting stuck in’ and taking a ‘robust’ approach to dealing with the ‘myths’ put out by opponents.
Some things never change…
Yet while McBride’s enthusiasm for a scrap didn’t always endear him to colleagues in the Labour Party or in Downing Street (especially if they were on the recieving end), it may be just the tonic that development charities need right now.
Aid lobbyists face the likes of Conservative MP Philip Davies who has described Britain as a ‘soft touch’ and said we must be ‘stark raving mad’ to give high sums to countries such as India.
Davies and his ilk are encouraged by the Daily Mail which recently claimed that the UK doles out ‘more aid than any other country’ – a headline which the fullfact.org blog said ‘oversteps the remit of the facts’.
With development charities pitted against the combined forces of the Daily Mail and the right wing of the Conservative Party, McBride’s ‘robust’ approach may be exactly what is needed.
Perhaps the charity world should be thankful McBride has not lost too much of his fighting spirit.
* OECD figures show that while the UK is the most generous G8 economy in international aid relative to Gross National Income (GNI), it does not give the most aid of any country in the world – neither relative to GNI or in absolute terms.