Sympathetic Stupid

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Lie Veight?

Thanks to a post on the wonderful Black Looks, The Independent has taken a look back at the Live8 concerts and Make Poverty History rallies. Warning: Parental Guidance Recommended. This gruesome story's really not for kiddies, there's too many baddies and no happy ending.

The backstory is that three months ago G8 leaders were meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland, triggering a 200,000 head rally for global justice. Simultaneously, Bob Geldof organised the Live8 concerts to promote debt relief and raise money. The summit ended with smiles all round, especially from Geldof and Bono, who praised the leaders as having taken serious action. While it sounded unlikely, I have no trouble believing that Geldof and Bono are serious in their hopes for poverty relief, so if they were happy then surely we should all be.

Tragically, it was all bullshit. Make Poverty History (MPH), the broad-based UK coalition and lobby group largely behind the rally, responded at the time: "Today the G8 have chosen not to do all that campaigners insist is necessary to free people trapped in the prison of poverty." (Just because campaigners say it's necessary, it doesn't follow that it is, but I'll let that lie for now.) Kumi Naidoo from the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) said "...the promise to deliver by 2010 is like waiting five years before responding to the tsunami".

The Independent article talks about the standard dodgy political tricks in the G8 announcement: "New aid money!" which was really already pledged or budgeted; broken promises on dropping trade barriers; from the US, promises of aid - but only if they got something in return; "100 per cent debt cancellation!" which was more like 5%; and debt relief which simply replaces aid dollars, and is conditional on subjecting to the IMF and World Bank's agenda.

The article's pretty left-wing partisan, and so it's hard to get a good flavour of the exact situation, but it seems unarguable that all was nowhere near as rosy as Geldof and Bono painted it at the time. My hope is that they continue to have their sights fixed on the bigger picture, and in pandering to the leaders of rich nations they at least keep a seat at the table, in order to get some sort of action eventually. Some real action.