Sauce for de Goose…But, not for de Gander?

Part 107 – 06/2020 (Contribution)

BRADES, Montserrat, December 14, 2020 –  In Britain, the Bird served at table for Christmas Day was often a Goose, not a Turkey. The male Goose (the Gander), of course, can be cooked up just as nicely, and it makes sense to use the same sauce. That’s where the saying comes from. Here in the Caribbean, we might note that the same knife used for a sheep can be used for a goat too; and both can be used to make our national dish, Goat Water.

Those of us who have monitored political commentary for the past few years will of course immediately spot the point. For years, members of our present Government hammered away at the last Government, week by week, even accusing it of “bamboozling” the Budget.  That’s another way of saying, fraud; a pretty serious charge.  Meanwhile, we are yet to hear a sound, detailed explanation for the nineteen ($19) million dollar reduction in the hole in the budget, but that was dealt with by TMR last time.

What we need to look at today is the reaction of the new government to, much milder criticism than what it dished out, week by week, year by year, when somebody else was in the hot seat. For, there has been talk of threats to shut down a popular call-in show which has become a place where various members of the public have aired their displeasure with the new government and its handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Admittedly, could be a difficult challenge.

Even more interesting was the sudden rediscovery by members of the public that indeed, the UK has confirmed that the reasonable assistance needs of Overseas Territories have a first call on the UK Development budget. That, used to be laughed to scorn, and the counter-point that sixty percent [60%] of salaries of members of the legislature and civil servants came from the UK, honouring that commitment, was typically sidestepped.

Perhaps, we can learn from how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot. (This saying likely comes from the 1700s where the fashion was to have both shoes looking the same, so after a time, one needed to swop over which foot one put a given shoe on, lest it becomes misshapen. Ouch! We have long since learned that it is a better idea to have left foot and right foot shoes.)

In an oddly related development, the UK’s now-former Development Minister in the newly fused FCDO – DfID is no more – resigned due to the Government’s declared intent to cut the 0.7 percent development aid target to 0.5 percent[1]:

Elizabeth Sugg, who was minister for overseas territories and sustainable development and special envoy for girls’ education — a priority area of government development policy — said she “cannot support or defend” the decision to lower the aid budget to 0.5% of GNI.

In her resignation letter, she wrote: “I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development. This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good … The economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises.” [Devex dot com]

As Devex continued, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, “pledged to return to spending 0.7% on aid ‘when the fiscal situation allows.’ ” 

It added that “prime ministers, secretaries of state, and backbench Conservative MPs were among those who kicked back against the government’s decision, saying it was a breach of the party’s commitments — maintaining the 0.7% spending target was a Conservative manifesto pledge — and would undermine the U.K.’s international position. ”

Indeed, former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned when he lost the Brexit referendum, said “[the 0.7 percent pledge] said something great about Britain . . . we were actually going to do something about [global challenges], we were going to lead, we were going to show the rest of the world . . .  and I think it’s sad we’re standing back from that.”

In short, there is some seriousness about the development aid pledge. 

Similarly, when the “poverty reduction” criterion is given an exception for OT’s in Section 2 of the UK International Development Act, 2002,[2]  it sets up what was pledged ten years later on p. 13 of the 2012 FCO White Paper on OT’s[3]:

“The UK Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective are to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples. This responsibility flows from international law including the Charter of the United Nations. It also flows from our shared history and political commitment to the wellbeing of all British nationals. This requires us, among other things, to promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the people of the Territories, to ensure their just treatment and their protection against abuses, and to develop self-government and free political institutions in the Territories. The reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.

This is actually a longstanding pledge and is a key plank for our development aid negotiations. Especially, as we are not generally eligible for aid from other donor agencies. Under UN Charter, Article 73, the UK is our main development aid partner.  This is a key point for any future Premier to bear in mind.

Also, what Article 73 of the UN Charter[4] – which the UK here acknowledges as having legal force – actually says is that the UK is to “ensure” political, economic, social, and educational advancement and is to “promote” constructive measures of development. All of this, was always only a few clicks away on the Internet. There is no excuse for the dismissive rhetoric and ridicule for several years; rhetoric that now stands in the way of acknowledging that this is the way forward to sound relief and stimulus to break out of Covid-19 stagnation.

(A year later, we can also see why the UN Article 73, Committee of Twenty-Four decolonisation visit that was fought for so hard by the previous government was absolutely pivotal. But due to much the same ill-advised rhetoric, it was dismissed by too many of our political voices. What a difference a year makes!)

Let us see how we can work to find a good way forward.

Yes, it is clear that sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander, too.


[1] See, https://www.devex.com/news/uk-minister-resigns-as-senior-conservative-mps-condemn-end-to-0-7-aid-budget-98643

[2] See, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/1/part/1

[3] See https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32952/ot-wp-0612.pdf

[4] See, https://legal.un.org/repertory/art73.shtml

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Part 107 – 06/2020 (Contribution)

BRADES, Montserrat, December 14, 2020 –  In Britain, the Bird served at table for Christmas Day was often a Goose, not a Turkey. The male Goose (the Gander), of course, can be cooked up just as nicely, and it makes sense to use the same sauce. That’s where the saying comes from. Here in the Caribbean, we might note that the same knife used for a sheep can be used for a goat too; and both can be used to make our national dish, Goat Water.

Those of us who have monitored political commentary for the past few years will of course immediately spot the point. For years, members of our present Government hammered away at the last Government, week by week, even accusing it of “bamboozling” the Budget.  That’s another way of saying, fraud; a pretty serious charge.  Meanwhile, we are yet to hear a sound, detailed explanation for the nineteen ($19) million dollar reduction in the hole in the budget, but that was dealt with by TMR last time.

What we need to look at today is the reaction of the new government to, much milder criticism than what it dished out, week by week, year by year, when somebody else was in the hot seat. For, there has been talk of threats to shut down a popular call-in show which has become a place where various members of the public have aired their displeasure with the new government and its handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Admittedly, could be a difficult challenge.

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Even more interesting was the sudden rediscovery by members of the public that indeed, the UK has confirmed that the reasonable assistance needs of Overseas Territories have a first call on the UK Development budget. That, used to be laughed to scorn, and the counter-point that sixty percent [60%] of salaries of members of the legislature and civil servants came from the UK, honouring that commitment, was typically sidestepped.

Perhaps, we can learn from how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot. (This saying likely comes from the 1700s where the fashion was to have both shoes looking the same, so after a time, one needed to swop over which foot one put a given shoe on, lest it becomes misshapen. Ouch! We have long since learned that it is a better idea to have left foot and right foot shoes.)

In an oddly related development, the UK’s now-former Development Minister in the newly fused FCDO – DfID is no more – resigned due to the Government’s declared intent to cut the 0.7 percent development aid target to 0.5 percent[1]:

Elizabeth Sugg, who was minister for overseas territories and sustainable development and special envoy for girls’ education — a priority area of government development policy — said she “cannot support or defend” the decision to lower the aid budget to 0.5% of GNI.

In her resignation letter, she wrote: “I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development. This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good … The economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises.” [Devex dot com]

As Devex continued, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, “pledged to return to spending 0.7% on aid ‘when the fiscal situation allows.’ ” 

It added that “prime ministers, secretaries of state, and backbench Conservative MPs were among those who kicked back against the government’s decision, saying it was a breach of the party’s commitments — maintaining the 0.7% spending target was a Conservative manifesto pledge — and would undermine the U.K.’s international position. ”

Indeed, former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned when he lost the Brexit referendum, said “[the 0.7 percent pledge] said something great about Britain . . . we were actually going to do something about [global challenges], we were going to lead, we were going to show the rest of the world . . .  and I think it’s sad we’re standing back from that.”

In short, there is some seriousness about the development aid pledge. 

Similarly, when the “poverty reduction” criterion is given an exception for OT’s in Section 2 of the UK International Development Act, 2002,[2]  it sets up what was pledged ten years later on p. 13 of the 2012 FCO White Paper on OT’s[3]:

“The UK Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective are to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples. This responsibility flows from international law including the Charter of the United Nations. It also flows from our shared history and political commitment to the wellbeing of all British nationals. This requires us, among other things, to promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the people of the Territories, to ensure their just treatment and their protection against abuses, and to develop self-government and free political institutions in the Territories. The reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.

This is actually a longstanding pledge and is a key plank for our development aid negotiations. Especially, as we are not generally eligible for aid from other donor agencies. Under UN Charter, Article 73, the UK is our main development aid partner.  This is a key point for any future Premier to bear in mind.

Also, what Article 73 of the UN Charter[4] – which the UK here acknowledges as having legal force – actually says is that the UK is to “ensure” political, economic, social, and educational advancement and is to “promote” constructive measures of development. All of this, was always only a few clicks away on the Internet. There is no excuse for the dismissive rhetoric and ridicule for several years; rhetoric that now stands in the way of acknowledging that this is the way forward to sound relief and stimulus to break out of Covid-19 stagnation.

(A year later, we can also see why the UN Article 73, Committee of Twenty-Four decolonisation visit that was fought for so hard by the previous government was absolutely pivotal. But due to much the same ill-advised rhetoric, it was dismissed by too many of our political voices. What a difference a year makes!)

Let us see how we can work to find a good way forward.

Yes, it is clear that sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander, too.


[1] See, https://www.devex.com/news/uk-minister-resigns-as-senior-conservative-mps-condemn-end-to-0-7-aid-budget-98643

[2] See, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/1/part/1

[3] See https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32952/ot-wp-0612.pdf

[4] See, https://legal.un.org/repertory/art73.shtml