Friday, July 08, 2005


"And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win";
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."

And so it seems that we're in a position where a really so-so settlement for Africa is being given a positive spin by the Live 8 team. Despite the posturing at Hyde Park and around the events of last weekend, giving the impression that if the G8 didn't bow to the will of the people, Bob and Bono would want to know why, tonight Bono was appearing on Channel 4 News to praise Blair and Brown for their famous victory in getting... well, not that much. As Oxfam lashed the G8 for still condemning 50 million children to death; as Christian Aid reacted in disgust to the "business as usual" approach to trade; as Kumi Naidoo from the Global Call to Action Against Poverty insisted "the people have roared but the G8 have whispered... the promise to deliver by 2010 is like waiting 5 years before responding to the tsunami", Bono was hailing the great success:

"If an Irish rock star might be allowed to quote Winston Churchill, probably shouldn't be, no this is not the end of world poverty but in Churchill's words it is the 'beginning of the end'.

Actually, Bono, Churchill's phrase was "now this is not the end. It is not even the begining of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the begining." He was making it clear there wasn't light at the end of the tunnel, not even yet - which might be where Africa finds itself, but not what you had in mind.

"As someone who's had a few doors slammed in their face over the past six months I do know this: Prime Minister Blair's involvement was critical in getting some essential last pieces to this puzzle out of the Americans and others.

"You have to give it up for him here - he delivered.

Last Saturday, we were told it was unacceptable that 50,000 people die every day; today, Bono seems to be thinking it's a massive breakthrough that - if all the promises made today are honoured - 37,000 people will still be dying every day in 2010. If he and Bob were meant to be our voices at the top table, it seems they thought the message we wanted to send was "make sure the communique portrayed the leaders in the best possible light.

We've just seen Bono pop up on News 24 - it's purple sunglasses today, by the way - and he's still doing his "hey, politicians aren't good at showbiz" schitck. But Bono, we don't want politicians to be entertainers. We want them to be just and fair and wise.

It's interesting the Bob has continued to play fast and loose with numbers - in much the same way that he was overcounting viewing figures, now he's overcounting effects. While Bono was suggesting that 600,000 people might make it through the next five years, Geldof was trumpeting ten million saved. Bob's comments so far haven't actually been those of a man outraged at a tiny gesture - indeed, he's adopted the sort of politician's bluster about 'the art of the possible' that twenty years ago would have had him raging:

To save lives is never a whisper. People were screaming before, a whisper is not a bad thing. Please, perspective!"

Something for the 37,000 corpses we can still be looking forward to be burying every day in 2010 to take comfort from, there: they need to keep their deaths in some sort of perspective.