Conservatives lead DFID for first time (updated)

Andrew Mitchell becomes the first Conservative Secretary of State at the UK’s Department for International Development. DFID was formed in 1997, as one of the first acts of the Blair government.

So far, Mitchell sounds quite a bit like DFID’s first head,  Clare Short, promising to focus on poverty eradication:

We must make 2010 the year when we get the Millennium Development Goals back on-track and make real progress towards what we all want to see: a world free from poverty. I look forward to getting to work to help make that happen.

Update: Owen Barder comments:

The Conservatives have made no secret of their desire to ensure that Britain’s world-class development work is more closely integrated with the UK’s other international work led by the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. The aim is to have a more joined up foreign policy, which may result in DFID being more engaged in post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in future.

I’m personally in favour of a more joined up foreign policy, but this integration of development policy with other UK objectives must not be a one-way street: it must also be that other government policies are designed to support the UK’s objectives for development and poverty reduction. The commitment in Andrew Mitchell’s statement to “harness the full range of British government policies” is therefore especially welcome.

As someone who cares passionately about the need for greater transparency of aid, I also welcome Andrew Mitchell’s emphasis on this. This bodes well for continued and strengthened UK support for the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). A group of 18 donors so far, who together give half of global aid, are working through IATI towards a common international standard for publication of detailed and timely information about aid: this offers the possibility of a step change in the accessibility of global aid information, which will help to make more accountable and effective.

Reaction and analysis from the Guardian.