Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Geldof urges millions to join 'long walk to justice'

Sir Bob--who seems not to have slept in the interim since Live Aid--goes for it again:





He wants it to be the biggest political protest ever, aimed at convincing eight men in one room in Scotland that they can - and should - change the world. With characteristic ambition and political passion, superlatives and expletives, Sir Bob Geldof explained yesterday why Live8, his 20th anniversary successor to Live Aid, should be far more than simply the most impressive concert fans will have ever seen.

Taking place on 2 July, the Saturday before a summit of the most powerful leaders in the world at Gleneagles, Live8 will comprise simultaneous concerts in five of the G8 countries - Britain, France, Italy, Germany and the US.

...

Whereas 20 years ago, millions of individuals gave donations to help ease the famine in Africa, the aim now is to make the politicians play their part in tackling poverty which is killing 50,000 people a day, or a child every three seconds.

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After the concerts, planes, trains, boats and lorries are being lined up to carry up to a million protesters to Scotland to lobby the world leaders to cancel debt, double aid and remove trade barriers that hobble Africa's capacity to harness its own potential.

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"The G8 leaders have it within their power to alter history. They will only have the will to do so if millions of people show them that enough is enough," he said.

He admitted he had long held the view that another Live Aid should not be attempted. "I couldn't see how anything could possibly be better than that glorious day 20 years ago, almost perfect in what it achieved. I didn't want to do 'Bob's best bits', but Bono and Richard [Curtis] kept saying, do it again."

And having persuaded Tony Blair to hold the Commission for Africa, he was not going to allow a year's work to gather dust on a shelf. "It seemed to me we could do it again, not for charity but for political justice. We've never been wealthier, we've never been healthier. We know what it costs. Do it." He told the world leaders that they should not come unless they were willing to act.
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Make Poverty History is not asking for money from the public; instead it has focused on attracting support to influence world leaders. Its main demands are for debts owed by developing nations to be cancelled, richer governments to commit to spending at least 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to help poorer states, and for fundamental reform of trade rules.

Whatever you may think of Geldof--and he has surely done, said or thought something during his career to piss you off--you have to admire his resilience and the scope of his ambition. It has never been his style to do anything in half-measures, and it makes perfect sense that he's going for the deep pockets this time around.

How close he can actually get to the G8 leaders is another matter; barracades have already gone up around Edinburgh. Even more to the point, it's unlikely that Geldof et al will be greeted by the leaders with the same sort of enthusiasm shown by sun-baked stoners everywhere from LA to London twenty years ago. For instance, we know our Dear Leader has already dismissed the 0.7 per cent target and regards millions of protests marchers around the globe as being nothing more than "focus groups."

Godspeed, Sir Bob.

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