James Forsyth

Mitchell’s right move

Mitchell's right move
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Andrew Mitchell’s decision to prioritise Afghanistan in the development budget is sensible. It demonstrates that Mitchell, a former soldier, understands that the Britain’s overseas aid needs to be in support of Britain’s foreign policy objectives.

The Observer reports that Mitchell will announce a 40 percent increase in the Afghan aid budget. This will be paid for both by the increase in development spending and by reducing aid to countries in Eastern Europe and Latin America.

I also understand that Mitchell has been emphasising to his department that it needs to work better with the military. For too long, there has been a culture at DFID that has seen it as distinct from the realities of foreign policy. That needs to change. The coordination between DFID and the military in post-conflict environment has also been poor. Mitchell is also working to change that. He has already solicited advice from the new chief of defence staff about how the two organisations can work better together.