‘No gifts, no freebies, no cheating’

Lord McConnell




£1 doesn’t cover a morning coffee in the café next to my office, but across the world around one billion people live on just £1 a day for all their living costs. The Global Poverty Project has been working hard for the last four years to challenge this unacceptable state of affairs through the Live Below the Line campaign. It has raised over $13.8 million across 70 countries and for 90 different charities who are all aiming to end extreme poverty. Despite a huge international effort, the scandal of extreme poverty still persists in 2015 so yet again I will do a little to help this month.


Live Below the Line is a challenge to live for five days spending just £1 a day on all food and drink. No gifts, no freebies, no cheating. For me to stay within budget, it will mean no coffee, no milk, probably no meat, and no soft or alcoholic drinks. However, I will be lucky enough to have unlimited access to clean and safe water and reliable electricity and will only have to endure this for five days. Living in such severe poverty causes not only hunger, but also terrible health problems, but this is life for nearly 1000 million people around the world.


This year, my Live Below the Line challenge will direct funds towards changing lives in Malawi. The total raised by the McConnell International Foundation team will be split between UNICEF and the McConnell International Foundation projects there.


This year marks the ten-year anniversary of my delegation visit to Malawi as First Minister of Scotland, in support of the Scotland Malawi Partnership. This incredible partnership has grown from strength to strength over the past ten years and acts as an umbrella organisation for all groups and individuals involved in mutually beneficial projects to aid sustainable development in Malawi and help its people break out of the poverty cycle.


One of the projects that will benefit from the donations to my Live Below the Line 2015 challenge is AYISE – Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement is based in Blantyre, Malawi, which helps young people break out of the poverty cycle, providing livelihood security and employment opportunities as well as promoting human rights and democratic principles.


In the ten years since my first visit to Malawi, the chances for many have improved. But there is still much work to be done. Poverty goes hand in hand with disease, child labour and other abuses. And the situation in Malawi was worsened by the January floods that resulted in almost a quarter of a million people being displaced and thousands of acres of crops being destroyed, significantly affecting the availability of food this year. It is a crucial time in their development and we must strive to do as much as we can to help those affected rebuild their lives.


I recently saw for myself the amazing work that UNICEF Malawi are doing to keep the camps for those who have been displaced clean and healthy, and to support families to move into new homes. But they need more resources to help more people.


From 12th to 16th June, I will once again be undertaking the challenge to eat and drink spending just £1 or less for five days. If you would like to know more (or even to donate) please check out this link to my campaign page:




The scale of this scandal is a disgrace in a world with the technology, know-how and resources we have today. Statistics trip off the tongue, and it can seem hopeless to target the defeat of extreme poverty globally. But, year after year more people are lifted out of poverty. If we each do a little, we can win this war.




4 comments for “‘No gifts, no freebies, no cheating’

  1. MilesJSD
    10/06/2015 at 10:56 am

    “If we each do a little, we can win this war
    [against worldwide poverty]”, you say.

    Yet as a governance -set you live “fat” .
    There’s not one member of any of your “Wars Against Poverty” who is successfully, transparently, and emulably living off just one-human-living.

    What is your whole-of-the-year drawing from the Common Purse and from the Common Earth Lifesupports ? Probably more than five human livings, after all your business costs covered.
    [That’s allowing £250 per week as the sufficient human living,
    whereas you multiple-livings governance consumers legislate that £150 per week is a sufficient human-living for any one-human-being in Britain].

    Evidently, not only is yours, and the United Nations’s, think-tanking destructively flawed, it is insidiously “evil”,
    in terms of the Church of England’s “eight deadlier sins”
    (in the Book of Common Prayer’s Litany:
    “From blindness of heart, pride, vainglory, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, malice and all-uncharitableness, good Lord deliver us”)
    your largely unwitting blindness has resulted in your insidious slither down through the successively worse sins even into all-uncharitableness
    – this ultimate deadliest sin resulting in wilful blindness to insidiously destructive-evils.

    This element of godly-spirituality and charity amongst humans was also emphasised when Jesus Christ said that “Sin against God or against Christ may be forgiven you:
    but sin against the Holy Spirit may never be forgiven you”.

    Your collectively wilful co-delusion is that you are each many more than one-human-being;
    So you need to bring yourselves down to Earth,.

    £1 a day ?
    Give a donkey one oat, that’s your Governance-Mindset, isn’t it ? !

    Clearly you need to set the emulable example by living off one-human-living 24/7/52 within a suchlike lifelong sustainworthy lifestyle,
    not just for the remainder of your lives, but legislatively and constitutionally for all those whom you govern.

  2. Angela - UNICEF Malawi
    11/06/2015 at 7:09 pm

    Can’t follow the last comment – but modestly say thank you for raising funds and profile of UNICEF’s work in Malawi. It is and will be appreciated by the many here that face monumental challenges every day of their lives. Good luck.

  3. maude elwes
    18/06/2015 at 5:42 am

    The answer lies in choosing the right politician with the right ideology. This comment in the papers puts it straight.


    Think the 2015 political lesson which will be remembered, long after everything else is forgotten, is that when a party puts forward an anti-austerity, anti-Trident message and energises its members with an alternative to ToryBoy economics, that people vote for it by the bucketload. The SNP mopped up in Scotland with that message; if Corbyn wins, I hope English, Welsh and N Irish voters too can be inspired to fight for a platform that doesn’t involve the poorest of us having to pay for the mistakes of the richest. Who needs a Labour Party which tries to appeal to Daily Mail readers (and its owners!!!)? They’re lost to us for ever anyway…..mobilise the base, take a stand, explain your principles…show a bit of leadership- people are crying out for it.


    Politicians need to learn the lesson of their past, desert those who support your mantra or become extinct. Look at the LibDems. Gone with the dodo.

    Remember that old wailing song, ‘Stand by Your Man’? Just in case you forgot it here it is.


    So, stand by your man and leave the field of fancy to adulterers. Unless it is abandonment you embrace.

  4. P.Selvaratnam
    01/07/2015 at 11:32 am

    Please read the rest of the articles and share the following with as many as possible:

    1. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo 2010
    Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid reveals why millions are actually poorer because of aid, unable to escape corruption and reduced, in the West’s eyes, to a childlike state of beggary. We all want to help. Over the past fifty years $1 trillion of development aid has flowed from Western governments to Africa, with rock stars and actors campaigning for more. But this has not helped Africa. It has ruined it. Dambisa Moyo worked at Goldman Sachs for eight years, having previously worked for the World Bank as a consultant. Moyo completed a PhD in Economics at Oxford University, and holds a Masters from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Her other books include Winner Take All and How the West was Lost. She was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia.

    2..Time to Listen: Hearing people on the receiving end of international aid by Mary Anderson, Dayna Brown and Isabella Jean(2012):
    ‘’The researchers listened to 6,000 people who live in countries that receive aid. This serious effort was undertaken from 2005 to 2009, by the consistently thoughtful CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. (Mary B Anderson is the author of Do No Harm.) The authors found remarkable consistency in what people said. They were appreciative of aid, but thought it was not working as well as it should. The way aid was given undermined its effectiveness. The book summarises that this huge number of people say that “the system of international assistance is deeply flawed” in two ways:It is organised as a delivery system, from ‘providers’ to ‘receivers’. It relies too much on blueprint approaches, which don’t work in different contexts. The authors conclude with a rousing call to a new approach: “The idea of international assistance needs to be redefined away from a system for delivering things and reinvented to support collaborative planning [and action]” – http://actlocalfirst.org/2012/12/time-to-listen-book/

    3.The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton (Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University)2013
    ”Although Deaton supports select initiatives, particularly for delivering medical and technological knowledge, he questions whether the vast majority of aid passes the basic Hippocratic litmus test of “first do no harm”. The fact that people in several African countries appear to be worse off now than in 1960 is far more related to despotism and internal conflict than it is to the effectiveness of aid-delivery programmes” – The pros and cons of aid to developing economies, Kenneth Rogoff (former chief economist of the IMF andProfessor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University), 6 January 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/jan/06/pros-cons-aid-developing-economies

    4. How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices(D.Moyo-2012) is a wake-up call for all of us. Dambisa Moyo argues that during the last fifty years the most advanced countries on earth have squandered their advantage through fatally flawed policies: obsessing over property, ravenously consuming and building up debt instead of investing. Here Moyo outlines solutions that could help stem the tide. By rethinking many of the things we take for granted, she shows, it may yet be possible for the West to get back into the race.

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