The Jubilee Debt Campaign is 15 years old so there was a ‘bit of a do’ held appropriately enough in the Jubilee Room at the Houses of Parliament. A number of faith leaders, campaigners and leaders of linked organisations gathered for speeches and an opportunity to chat over the light refreshments which were provided.
The reception was hosted by Andrew Gwynne MP who was instrumental in the previous parliament in bringing a Private Members Bill which became law in theUnited Kingdomin 2010 to stop so called “Vulture Funds.” Bringing to an end the practice of “Vulture Fund” where investment companies aggressively pursuing the poorest countries in the world for historic debts that had been written off by the international community. He reminded us all of the crucial role Gordon Brown played in ensuring that the Bill became an act and also of the acceptance by the coalition government of the need to make this Act a permanent piece of legislation. In relation to the Jubilee Campaign he had particular thanks for faith groups whose tenacity and commitment to the issues have supported the work which he and others within parliament try to do in challenging unjust structures and reminding those in power that whilst one person suffers we all suffer.
The purpose of the reception was two-fold. First, it was to celebrate the anniversary of the campaign and remember such significant moments as the time when many of us ringed the G8 meeting inBirmingham. It was also to remind ourselves that much had been done over those fifteen years (not least the cancellation of $120 billion or £80 billion of debt bringing education and healthcare to many millions of people) a fact which should spur us on to continue the campaign. The second was to launch a letter which has been signed by over 400 faith leaders and which is being sent to the Prime Minister. The letter calls for a renewed Jubilee. Drawing on the teachings of Christianity, and the Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Islamic faiths, it emphasises the common understanding amongst them of justice and the right use of wealth. This is truly a multi-faith campaign bringing with it all the diversity which that indicates and all the experience which such a group of people can demonstrate.
The letter ends with the following words:
A Jubilee for Justice today would mean:
- Cancelling the unjust debts of the most indebted nations
- Promoting just and progressive taxation rather than excessive borrowing
- Stopping harmful lending which forces countries into debt
A copy of the letter and full list of signatories can be found at www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk
We were reminded at the end of the formal part of the reception that sadly this is not a campaign which is going to go away any time soon but it is a campaign which has the momentum and the drive and the expertise to continue and to continue to make a real difference in the lives of the most vulnerable people on the planet. However, it can only do that if each of us continues to support it in whatever ways are appropriate in our own situation. So ……. learn more about the campaign, learn more about the issues, sign the cards, write letters to MPs and others in power, pray and pray again. Remember the words of Jesus –“ I come to bring good news to the poor”. That good news has arrived in a few places but it needs to spread much, much further and each of us have a part to play in that spreading.