After Live8, now on to Edinburgh
Monday 04 July 2005
The Make Poverty History caravan is winding its way towards Edinburgh where protesters have been gathering all weekend. After the energy and glamour of Live8, Bob Geldof hopes a million people will descend on the Scottish capital on Wednesday to reiterate the demands made by the pop stars on Saturday. Police have assembled a huge fence around Gleneagles in anticipation of a violent rerun of anarchist protests that have marred previous G8 summits.
There are already signs that hopes of sealing a historic deal to end poverty in Africa on the crest of a wave of global compassion may be about to fall short.
Two members of the coalition, Oxfam and ActionAid, said yesterday that the deals which are on the table at Gleneagles were woefully inadequate to bring about the kind of fundamental change envisaged by Geldof and his supporters.
They warned that the additional $25bn (£14bn) aid promised by the European Union, United States, Canada and Japan comes nowhere near the $50bn that the United Nations says is needed from 2006. Most of the new money will not come on-stream until 2010, leading to a cumulative shortfall of £100bn.
Full debt relief was confined to only 14 of sub-Saharan Africa's poorest states, not all of them, as demanded by Tony Blair's Commission for Africa earlier this year.
And the much-dreamt-of deal to open the developed world's markets to African producers remained as elusive as ever, Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for International Development, warned.
Meanwhile, there was further cause for discomfort following an interview for Tonight with Trevor McDonald, in which President George Bush made it clear that he was not prepared to grant the Prime Minister any special favours at the G8 in return for his support for the war in Iraq.
Mr Bush, who has already agreed to double development aid to Africa by 2010, insisted he would consider trade reform with the continent only if the EU was prepared to do the same. "We've got agricultural subsidies, not nearly to the extent that our friends in the EU have," he said pointedly.
The success of Mr Blair and Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, in elevating the issue to the top of the policy agenda, may, with three days to go until the G8 summit, have raised expectations too high, charities warned.
Mr Brown insisted that some of the fundamental pillars of a new deal for Africa - 100 per cent debt relief for the poorest countries and a doubling in aid - were already in place.
"So on two of the major issues, there has indeed been a great deal of progress and it does, I think, prove that people, not just in Britain but across the world, are not powerless but people can have power if they make their views felt," he told BBC News 24's Sunday programme.
But Steve Tibbett, ActionAid's head of policy and campaigns, said: "Look behind the rhetoric and the reality falls far short. We are still nowhere near a deal that will effectively tackle global poverty."
And in an embarrassment to the campaign, Sail8, in which it was hoped a vast flotilla of yachts loaded with French supporters would sail into Portsmouth yesterday, fizzled out. Only four yachts and a motor boat made the voyage, with not a single French protester on board.
Up to 80 yachts had been expected with an escort from the Coastguard and the Royal Air Force.Don Brind, a spokesman for Sail8, said that heavy winds on Saturday had forced some yachts to turn back.
"Some [events] work, but others do not, and we have to concede that this didn't," he said. "It was of symbolic value though. All we could do was provide the opportunity, and, for whatever reason, it wasn't taken up."
But organisers were satisfied that, with one or two exceptions, the weekend of concerts had been an amazing success.
As Geldof spent a day recovering after his rapturous reception at the London concert, nearly 30 million people have sent text messages to show their support for the campaign.
In London, where there were 205,000 at Live8, the biggest clean-up ever seen in the park was being completed. Officials said Live8 generated enough rubbish to fill 72 dustcarts - the equivalent of 10 days' litter.
And in a show of public spirit, Transport for London staff volunteered to keep open tube stations and allow trains to run late around the concert venue when it became clear that the massive over-running of the concert could leave thousands stranded.
It was feared that crowds could be forced to spend the night in Hyde Park when the Live8 extravaganza drew to a close at midnight instead of the scheduled 9.30pm. In the event just 25 camped out.
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