• November 20, 2015


Phillip Gawne was recently asking for ideas and bids from organisations that want to spend the Isle of Mans overseas aid budget. He was casting his net for bids of £10,000 up to £100,000.

Now at a time when many on the Isle of Man are suffering hardship themselves this is the political equivalent of putting your political head in the mouth of a lion particularly about nine months before an election – Phil obviously has the heart of a lion!

The argument for overseas aid is that we as a country should try and meet the same target percentage wise as other developed western nations that ‘hardship’ is relative and the funds we disperse are helping some of the poorest people on the planet.

Although the IOM government is proud of its overseas aid record it does not always play well with ‘the man on the Castletown omnibus’ so I thought I would look at it in a bit more depth and did some research online. There’s plenty to get your teeth into.

The first thing is not all non-independent territories donate overseas aid so the ‘country’ argument does not stand up. The United Kingdom is responsible for our Foreign Affairs until Phil and Allan bite the bullet and push for independence. Arguably part of what we pay the UK as a subvention each year should go in overseas aid.

On the plus side the aid we do give is spent well according to the Manx government. Now I know it’s not fashionable to believe the Manx government but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and accept it is doing good.

The online research was more interesting I found an interesting article in the spectator. Now the Spectator is generally a cut above the rest of the UK media but I’m not usually a fan of its articles for two reasons;

It is essentially a Conservative publication.
Its Editor is Frazer Nelson that irritating Scottish Unionist who talks with that accent Paul Kavanagh (aka Scottish blogger Wee Ginger Dug) has christened ‘irritable vowel syndrome’.

None the less the Spectator article is interesting because it cited something I had not realised – I quote:

“Some suggest it’s about being nice (however ineffectually) to our less fortunate neighbours; showing them we’re not racist. But being admirably attuned to matters of race and prejudice, Cameron and his crew must have noticed that the fiercest defenders of aid are invariably white, and the most trenchant critics tend to be African intellectuals like Ghana’s George Ayittey and Uganda’s Andrew Mwenda. Some of them who have been in the field will have seen for themselves how aid activity of both kinds — development and emergency — all too often replicates much that was bad about 19th-century missionary activity and imperialism, and even with the best intentions tends to patronise its beneficiaries and undermine good government.”

Now I don’t care what the UK government or David Cameron says about the wisdom of overseas aids. I don’t care what Phil Gawne says about its benefits. I also take what I read in the Spectator with a pinch of salt.

However I am interested in what some of the thinkers (intellectuals) in the countries on the receiving end of overseas aid think and paradoxically some seem to question its value.

I am not suggesting we should cut overseas aid but I do think we should have a debate about what it’s doing and indeed if as the article poses ‘it tends to patronise its beneficiaries and undermine good government’!

The full Spectator article is here:

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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