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Reflections on the yes vote on international aid

Our Campaigns Officer Rebecca Owen reflects on last week’s parliamentary bill, which brought a commitment to spending 0.7% of our national income on international aid one step closer.

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18 Sep 2014 | UK

You know those days when something so unexpectedly good happens that you wake up the next morning wondering if you dreamt the whole thing? Well Friday was a bit like that for me – and if you were following what was going on in Parliament, maybe it was for you too.

But if it seemed like just an ordinary day, let me explain why it’s one you really should take a moment or two to celebrate.

A truly historic moment

On Friday, just after 2pm, MPs voted on a bill to enshrine in law Britain’s commitment to giving 0.7% of our Gross National Income (GNI) in international development aid.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, we had been trying hard to persuade 100 MPs to be in Parliament on the day to ensure the vote could take place. But thanks to people like you, there weren’t just 100 MPs showing their support.

What made this vote not just an incredible result but a truly historic moment is that no less than 164 MPs voted in favour, with just 6 against.

If I sound a little surprised, to be honest it’s because I still am! Just a few weeks ago, this campaign seemed unwinnable – the timing was terrible, the odds seemed stacked against it and even the day before it was too close to call.

But despite all that, we really wanted to make sure you had the chance to have your say and tell your MP how you felt. So we joined the Turn Up Save Lives campaign – and there is absolutely no doubt that it was the emails from our supporters, and supporters of other international development organisations, that helped bring about this astonishing success.

Even those MPs who weren’t able to be there still heard the other side to criticism of our aid budget.

Against all the odds

So, against all odds, the bill now goes forward to the next stage in the House of Commons, before going on to the House of Lords. It’s not there yet of course, but a seemingly insurmountable hurdle has been cleared, and a very public one at that.

It’s especially amazing when you consider that the last time a similar bill was brought before Parliament two years ago, the benches were so empty that one MP was able to single-handedly block its progress

That’s why I want to thank everyone who took the time to let their MP know their views. It’s not too often we can say this, but you really have helped make history. And judging by the emails you’ve sent me, some of which you can read on the right, you feel as proud and excited as I do – with good reason.

Find out what the MPs had to say on the day here >