Our February 2019 Lunch

Speaker Secretary Ian Rutter reports:

Gordon Bridger, a member of Probus ’83 since 2014, gave us a talk entitled ‘The British Empire’. Gordon is well qualified to speak on this subject as he was Director of Economics for British Aid Programmes for many years and also worked for the United Nations in a similar role. He has lived and/or worked in almost every state of the current Commonwealth and many others besides.

After a slightly uncertain start, mainly caused by a recalcitrant audio headset, Gordon soon warmed to the task of persuading us that, in general, the states of the Empire benefitted greatly from British imperial power. We were asked to compare the effect of Britain on their colonies with that of Spain, Belgium, Holland and France on theirs. We are still very welcome in almost all countries of the Commonwealth – indeed some citizens of some countries would like us back!

Gordon pointed out that very few ex-Empire countries have failed to join the Commonwealth, (a voluntary organisation), among them Burma, Ireland, Maldives, Yemen and (dare one say) the USA, but three other states – Mozambique, Namibia and Rwanda – which were not British colonies, have joined the Commonwealth.

He also asked us to look at the situations in many ex-Empire states, since they gained their independence. Many, particularly in Africa, have discarded British values and are now dictatorships with poor economies, much to the detriment of the majority of their people.

Don Horrocks, himself a well-travelled member of Probus ’83, gave a deservedly generous vote of thanks. Certainly, if one judges the interest in a talk by the number of questions afterwards, then Gordon’s presentation was a great success.