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World Politics

Geldof hits back at chorus of criticism from charities

Writing in today's Independent, Sir Bob insists that the G8 summit deal on aid and debt will save millions of lives and called for an end to "internal squabbling" within the campaign. Some members of the Make Poverty History (MPH) coalition have attacked Sir Bob for overestimating the achievements of the G8 and allowing the massive publicity surrounding Live8 to "obscure" the voices of smaller campaigners and charities.

After the Gleneagles summit in July, he told the world's media: "A great justice has been done. On aid, 10 out of 10; on debt, eight out of 10 ... mission accomplished, frankly."

But both the coalition as a whole and some of the members feel the summit did not go far enough. Since world leaders announced a doubling of aid to the poorest countries at the G8, it has emerged that the figure includes debt relief. There are also concerns that countries such as Germany and Italy may not honour financial commitments to increase aid.

Dave Timms, spokesman for the World Development Movement lobby group, said: "We really disagree on his assessment of the G8 summit. The campaign has called for total debt cancellation without strings attached, but the summit deal was only for 18 countries and there were strings.Our other concern has been that Live8 completely obscured the enormous amount of hard work that MPH had put into making people realise that they could put pressure on the world's leaders to do something about it. With Live8, you had pop stars making simplistic statements about how people in Africa were poor. No one needs to be told that."

John Coventry, of War on Want, said: "[Sir Bob] got too close to the Government and he got burnt."

Sir Bob is now with Tony Blair at the United Nations world summit in New York in a bid to save the G8 deal. He is more circumspect about the Gleneagles summit now but insists it was a step in the right direction towards ensuring faltering progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was renewed.

"Barely 10 weeks ago, the political elite of our world reached an agreement that would, if implemented, keep alive millions of people who would otherwise die," he says. "The package [of aid and debt] backed at Gleneagles outlined a way to put the MDGs back on track. Those of us involved always knew it would be a long, incremental process."

He adds: "It has been, within our limited terms of reference, a success, but it is not nearly adequate. If the G8 break their solemn pledges to the poor, there must be a reckoning."

Other charity members of the campaign, for instannce Oxfam, have been anxious to avoid criticising Sir Bob's work. Richard Bennett, who chairs the Make Poverty History coalition, said: "While we disagreed with Bob Geldof's assessment of the outcome of the G8, we are now deeply concerned that world leaders are set to fall short not only of our objectives but even of the steps the G8 themselves agreed to in Gleneagles. It is not one individual but the world's most powerful governments whose actions should be under scrutiny."

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