Paul Vallely: Geldof turns nasty (well, he said he didn't like Mondays)

In his latest diary report, Paul Vallely joins 100 American protesters at Heathrow
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The Independent Online

Observant aficionados of song lyrics may also have noticed that Sting altered the words of "Every Breath you Take" that day to sing: "Every game you play, till election day, every bond you break, every step you take, we'll be watching you". Bob Geldof made the hints more explicit yesterday.

I rose at the unearthly hour of 4.45am to be at Heathrow at 6.30am where Geldof had gone to meet Richard Branson and a planeload of protesters who had just been flown in - free of charge, courtesy of Virgin - from the United States.

The demonstrators, fresh from the Live8 Philadelphia concert - and most of them so wired by the event that they had not slept on the flight - numbered more than 100, two from each of the states of the union as representatives of the 800,000 who crammed the streets of the city of brotherly love for Saturday's US concert.

They were not alone, Geldof told them, 27 million Americans had signed the Live8 online petition. That was a massive increase on the one million who signed in the six weeks before the concert to the US equivalent of Make Poverty History, One, named after the goal to get America to give 1 per cent of its national income in aid, instead of the current 0.16 per cent.

That group constitutes a formidable campaign to "hold the feet of American politicians to the fire" to make sure they deliver on the promises they make to Africa. Everyone who has registered as a One supporter has pledged, when the elections come, to knock on at least 10 doors in their neighbourhood and tell voters whether or not the ruling party did its bit for Africa. "It's the kind of thing that politicians find unnerving," Geldof told the media who had travelled on the plane.

It is something he plans to extend to elections in other G8 nations. "I intend to make it my business to make sure that there are people in the constituencies of those politicians who fail Africa who will lobby against their re-election." He also intends to ask activists to knock on doors for those politicians who do deliver. Geldof, as ever, is a fair-minded sort of chap.

* The trickiest of the Live8 concerts to organise was the one in Moscow, for all the reasons you might suppose - plus one. One of the organisers was in conversation with a government official in the run-up to the event. The problem was, the apparatchik was told, that many of the top Russian bands were not available.

Would the Live8 folk like their government friend to ask the former KGB man Vladimir Putin to ring the bands and tell them they would be available?

No thanks, came the reply. The idea, after all, was that the pop world would lean on the politicians, not the other way round.