Comments by UKIP's Godfrey Bloom MEP attacking aid to 'Bongo Bongo Land' are not only racist but ignore the long term value of aid to developing countries, says Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion.

 
WS 20130511-Phil Bennion Lahore votersThe UKIP MEP first used the phrase in a meeting in Wordsley in the West Midlands but repeated it in a bizarre interview on the BBC's Today programme this morning.
 
Commenting, Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion said:
 
"Mr Bloom may speak for UKIP but I do not believe he speaks for Britain. His language is clearly offensive but he is also simply wrong to say all government or EU aid to third world countries is wasteful.
 
"I believe we have a moral obligation to spend a small proportion of our income on properly targeted aid to people in need. 
 
"But it is also worth remembering that the aid partners of today are the trade partners of tomorrow. 
 
"Some of the world's fastest growing economies received aid in the recent past, or still do. South Korea, Brazil and India are now vital export markets. An Indian company now owns and has helped to transform Jaguar Land Rover.
 
"Is it in Britain's interests to abandon the next wave of developing countries to the Chinese, who are now so active all over Africa building roads and schools? 
 
"This kind of UKIP Little Englander nonsense damages our reputation abroad but is madness as a national policy. Pull up the drawbridge and throw away the key? There is no future for us that way in a globalised world. 
 
"Mr Bloom's comments about aid to Pakistan and fighter jets are misleading - he is also wrong to be so dismissive.
 
"I was a monitor in the elections in Lahore for the EU. So many voters I met were not only pleased we were there to ensure a fair election, they were full of optimism.
 
"They don't want hand-outs but a hand up to help build a new and successful country. If India can become a superpower then there is no reason why Pakistan can't succeed economically too. Trade follows aid.
 
"We gain a lot from the aid we give to help third world countries improve schools and recover from floods and earthquakes, or help local people set up in business. Generally, aid is well planned and supervised. Where it isn't we can highlight problems and put them right."
 
ENDS
 
Note: According to the accounts of the Department for International Development, ยฃ203.1 million was spent on aid to Pakistan last financial year. 31.4% to improve schools for 2 million children, 21.1% to alleviate poverty and hunger, 12.6% on health programmes such as vaccinations, 14.2% on humanitarian relief after the recent floods and earthquakes and the rest on a wide range of partnerships to promote security, better governance, health and economic development. 
 
Last year Phil Bennion MEP raised concerns with the European Commission about the way some EU aid was spent in Somalia, after meeting Somali diaspora representatives in Birmingham. The EU is one of the largest donors to the country, where after some years of anarchy a new government is making progress in restoring order and tackling both piracy and extremist militias.