A quick follow up to the post looking to what we might expect from Justine Greening’s appointment as Minister for International Development. According to the Daily Mail Justine Greening has called into question the 0.7% target for UK aid. The report suggested she wanted to do more with less, and is sceptical of the promise to increase UK’s aid spending. Of course, The Mail reports this in glowing terms, being one of the papers which has long attacked this particular bit of Tory policy.
Quite a few people have reported being impressed with the new minister, following meetings with Greening this week. A few years ago, at a meeting with several US senior policy advisors on Africa, one told us how an African president had assured him that he, as president, was genuinely personally committed to opening the space for a political opposition, but that officials lower down the hierarchy were dragging their feet. Having looked ‘this guy’ in the eyes, he knew he could trust him.
The lesson? Don’t trust the eyes test. I suspect most politicians are charming in person. It’s part of their job to come across well in person. It is what they do that counts. What exactly were those impressed by the new minister impressed by? If Greening is already undermining the government’s commitment to increased aid, this is seriously worrying, and makes the question of how much power she wields around the cabinet table even more important.