UK flooding: Michael Sheen's comments about foreign aid divide Radio 4 listeners

Actor criticises calls for money from the UK's overseas aid budget to be diverted to help flood victims

Alexander Sehmer
Tuesday 29 December 2015 14:24
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Sheen made his comments while guest editor on BBC Radio Four's Today programme
Sheen made his comments while guest editor on BBC Radio Four's Today programme

Actor Michael Sheen's criticism of calls to divert money from the foreign aid budget to help flood victims has divided Radio Four listeners.

Sheen used a spot as a guest editor on BBC Radio Four's Today programme to debate the merits of using aid money to help people in the North affected by the floods, something the Welsh actor, who frequently speaks out on social causes, appeard to be against.

"I think it's a false argument, I don't think it's an either-or. I think it's obviously from the newspapers you talk about – what's known as the right-wing press," he said.

"I'm completely sick and I'm sure a lot of people are sick in this country of ideological agendas, using very real issues that affect ordinary people in this country and abroad, as a political football."

His comments sparked heated exchanges on Twitter, with one user daring Sheen "to say that in waterlogged York".

Sheen's comments follow those by Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who questioned why government money was used for foreign aid instead of being used to "sort out problems" in the UK.

The Rochdale MP, whose constituency was hit in the floods, said earlier on BBC Radio Manchester: "Why do we spend money in Bangladesh when it needs spending in Great Britain?

"What we need to do is to sort out the problems which are occurring here and not focus so much on developing countries."

Legislation passed this year commits the UK to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on foreign aid each year, a target proposed in 1970 by the UN.

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