Noreena Hertz: When Saturday comes...

The Campaigner

Sunday. First day off for a month. I managed to catch up with Gina Bellman, one of my favourite girl friends, in Regent's Park. Thank goodness she's an actress and no stranger to hectic schedules, so she doesn't complain about our not having managed to get together for so long. She's about to get married to a cerebral sculptor - they seem madly in love. She's yet another of my friends in recent months to cast her single girl-about-town status aside.

Monday. Drafted and redrafted New Statesman cover story for their G8 issue. I was very keen to get the tone right, emphasising that the long walk to justice doesn't end at Gleneagles. Far from it.

Tuesday. I was interviewed by Taiwan's equivalent of The Economist. Apparently I have quite a fan club there. Julia Hauserman, a real human rights powerhouse who runs Rights and Humanity, launched an initiative to promote women's rights with a "working dinner" at Lincoln's Inn Fields. She managed to recruit amongst others Cherie Booth (strictly in QC mode), Lynne Franks and Baroness (Emma) Nicholson who is now turning to trying to make EU policies gender sensitive. I stayed up late to draft speech for Thursday. It's for a corporate audience, but I want to weave women's issues in.

Wednesday. I went to the BBC at Portland Place to do The Moral Maze, on the West's obligations to help Africa. Last time I was on the programme, five years ago, on the same subject, I came off the worse for it in a confrontation with the Daily Mail's Melanie Phillips. This time, with her performing once again, I was determined to come out fighting, and I think I gave as good as I got. What I don't understand is how anyone can dispute the fact that we have a moral obligation to prevent the deaths of those who are dying NOW. Of course we don't want to prop up corrupt governments, which is one of Melanie's obsessions, as one of her fellow panellists forcefully pointed out to her, but Melanie seems to be wagging a metaphorical finger at those who are facing imminent death because they have a corrupt and tyrannical government -as if it's their fault. Claire Fox accused me of moral grandstanding when I said that either we can do something about poverty or give up and "go home and have a glass of wine". She had a bee in her bonnet about the Western aid community supposedly having a patronising attitude. What a cop-out. I suspect the people we are trying to help don't mind being "patronised" if that's the alternative to starvation.

Thursday. An unusually corporate day for me: 8.30am start with a speaking engagement for 100 or so business executives on new issues that businesses need to understand. When I wrote my book The Silent Takeover I never imagined an author so critical of the current global system could become such a sought-out company maven. I had to leave early to go through an academic paper. Why does every journal lay out references differently? It means having to seek out original sources every time.

Friday. Train journey up to Edinburgh provided no shut eye. I'd been booked into a quiet carriage, but was interviewed by Irish national radio, which to my shame was overheard by everyone in the carriage. At end of the interview there was spontaneous applause. "You convinced me," said a voice behind me. How embarrassing. It was a friend from Oxfam who had also been part of the captive audience. They tell me that what will be delivered at Gleneagles will be pretty slim. There's no sign yet that Tony Blair is showing up with any money in his pocket, ie that all he will deliver next week is a re-announcement of what he agreed to deliver on aid last summer. Go on Tony, play your part. Bring forward your promise to raise the UK's aid spending to 0.7 per cent of GDP by three years, to 2010. That alone would save 10 million lives.

Saturday. The day of the Make Poverty History rally. The nerves started at 6am. I'd never addressed 120,000 people before, but the passion of the crowd eased my fears, making my job as a speaker far easier. This is a crowd of protesters not cheerleaders, of people who will not take the pressure off our politicians until they have delivered meaningful results. It's a good prelude to G8 week.

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