Monday 8 October 2012

Rwandan Discussions in Pembrokeshire

Andrew Mitchell, the Tory Chief Whip who was recently in the news for calling police officers in Downing Street plebs, has been making more headlines for dishing out £16 million to the increasingly despotic president of Rwanda against the advice of his civil servants (here).

President Kagame is accused of fomenting war in neighbouring Congo, suppressing opposition parties, gagging the press and targeting dissident Rwandans living outside the country. An all-round decent sort of chap, therefore, and much of the British aid budget to Rwanda is paid straight to the government there.

Nothing out of the ordinary for the Nasty Party, but there is more to this than first meets the eye.

One of Mitchell's pet schemes is Project Umubano, a programme of social development projects in Rwanda led by none other than local Tory boy Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire.

Lucy Kinder, now a journalist working for the pinko-lefty Daily Telegraph, also incurred Mr Mitchell's wrath when she wrote an article that criticised the way the project was being run. Ms Kinder, then just 21, accompanied the MP and a group of other Tories to Rwanda in 2009, and he was so incensed by what she had written that he sent her father a text message saying that "they [other members of the party] are threatening her with physical violence and I can't say I blame them".

Not exactly the sort of message any parent wants to receive about a young daughter thousands of miles from home, although apparently Mitchell felt that his threat was "figurative", and could not be taken in any other way. Just like those figuratively plebby coppers. Here is the Torygraph's take on the story.

You have to wonder what it is that attracts the Tories to Rwanda, a country only slightly larger than Wales, with no historic links to Britain. Perhaps they see it as laboratory where they can try out their theories before implementing them back home.

For example, the young Ms Kinder was somewhat taken aback to find that she was given one day's training to teach teachers English in less than two weeks.

Back in Britain this sort of fast-track education could save billions of pounds, and have children done with school while they are still small enough to shove up a chimney!

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