The UK government and the 0.7% international aid target: Opinion among Conservative parliamentarians

in (2017) British Journal of Politics and International Relation. (With T. Heppell and A. Crines) 

The link to the final, published version of this article can be found here, but for those who do not have access you can access the pre-publication version here.

This is the first article to use a detailed dataset of the 2010 – 2015 Parliamentary Conservative Party (PCP) to identify the drivers of MPs’ positions on legally enshrining a commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on foreign aid.

We position every Conservative parliamentarian into three different categories on international aid:

  1. aid critics, who openly opposed and/or voted the 0.7% target
  2. aid sceptics, who abstained in parliamentary divisions on the 0.7 target and
  3. aid advocates, who voted for the 0.7% and spoke out for it.

We then draw on a range of political and ideological variables to determine drivers of support or opposition to aid.

By doing so we identify that Cameron achieved remarkable success in transforming opinion towards aid amongst Conservative parliamentarians, in stark contrast to the difficulties associated with another aspect of social liberal modernisation — same-sex marriage.

Whereas on international aid Cameron secured the backing of 190 (or 61.7%) of the PCP (with opposition at only 24, or 7.8%), he only secured the backing of 127 (or 41.3%) of the PCP on same-sex marriage, as compared to 136 (or 42.9%) who voted against.

This article represents a quantitative challenge to the prevalent qualitative assumption in the academic literature, which claims Cameron’s modernisation project was a failure.

Published by David Jeffery

I am a Lecturer in British Politics at the University of Liverpool. I hold a PhD from Queen Mary University of London, which focused on the causes of Conservative electoral decline in Liverpool, from 1945 onwards.

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