Step away from the microphone!

The BBC continues with its extravagant coverage of the build-up to Live 8.. TV rights secure, guys? ANYway.. Not content with calling for school children to ‘bunk off for a week’, Bob Geldof now wants boat owners on the south coast of England to help out with the “continental adventure”.. and transport his, hoped-for, assembled masses from the shores of France all the way across La Manche.. one of the busiest, and most constricted, shipping routes in the world.. nice one, Bob..

As with this BBC report.. Midge Ure will no doubt again say that it’s “just Bob being Bob”.. oh.. and according to that report there’s also likely to be a shortage of portable toilets at the end of The Long Walk to Justice™ … lovely.

  • Ricardo

    Asylum seekers in France will be going ‘happy days’ to this one. Seems a bit mad, even for Sir Bob.

  • Keith M

    The whole thing is the most cock-eyed, hair brained thing I’ve heard of for a long time. The only consolation is that we won’t have to put up with Phil Collins or Queen this time.

  • Carrington

    Here’s an idea: why don’t all those self-righteous, stuck up celebs give 10% of everything they own to the cause of famine relief in Africa. That way we could raise the millions Geldof is after, and save us this pathetic nonsense.

  • canwebanulstermanplease

    can’t understand why all the begrudgers are getting so uppity over this.

    i suppose it is very easy to heckle from the side lines.

    if you don’t like what is going on, simply ignore it.

  • JK

    Here in Scotland, the schools finish on the 30th June for the Summer holidays so there will be no bunking off school!!

  • Carrington

    canwe….

    Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that those of us who work hard for a modest income, don’t like being lectured by the fabulously wealthy, most of whom fled this country for tax reasons, about our social responsibilities.

  • Friendly Fire

    Bob has definitely lost his marbles.

    If this happens (Dunkirk) expect illegal immigrant numbers to balloon.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    His job is to keep this event on the front pages. This should do the trick for today. It certainly hooked slugger.

    I’ve never understood why resentment of celebrities is at its most virulent when they have the effrontery to try to do something constructive.

  • peteb

    Jimmy

    There are valid criticisms to be made of the campaign.. see Nick Cohen, and more importantly, Michela Wrong in the Observer..

    Geldof can promote the pop concerts all he wants.. and it’s noticeable that the other performers involved are stepping back to doing just that.. but he’s going further and encouraging other actions, the consequences of which he will abdicate responsibility for.

    BTW the idea that illegal immigration will increase because of the flotilla is, of course, ridiculous.

  • Davros

    BTW the idea that illegal immigration will increase because of the flotilla is, of course, ridiculous.

    More publicity that Bob’s here and there’ll be a mass exodus 😉

  • Jimmy_Sands

    These commentators base their criticisms on the premise that relief is to be unconditional. I don’t believe that is the proposal. In any event, as a general rule, I would not feel comfortable bitching about someone doing far far more than I am. Others clearly feel less constrained.

    Also, I’m not convinced that shipping in the Channel is in quite as much peril from today’s briefing as you suggest.

  • peteb

    Jimmy

    As Michela Wrong’s article indicates, Bob’s enthusiasm is based on the Africa Commission’s report.. a report which she succinctly describes as “utter balls”.

    And it’s not the danger to shipping I’m highlighting as much as the danger to the flotilla..

    But, whether you believe Bob’s doing “far far more” is, implicitly, dependent on whether you believe that he’s doing the right thing to help improve the situation.. and, of course, I don’t think he is.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    The Observer piece you cited concludes thus:

    “This doesn’t mean we should give up on aid, abandon the campaign to write off debt, or stop trying to level the playing field when it comes to trade. But it means that the same tedious, carping rules apply. Conditions on aid will have to be set and strictly policed.”

    I assumed your posting it was an indication you agreed with it. She explicitly endorses the the GCAP’s three objectives. What are you suggesting instead?

  • Henry94

    We are screwing the third world by refusing them fair access to our markets while arming the scum who oppress them.

    We should have the decency not to sing while we’re doing it. We don’t care and we shouldn’t pretend to.

    If we did we would open our markets.

  • peteb

    As I’m sure you’re aware, Jimmy.. Michela Wrong’s article does not ‘conclude thus’.

    It continues on directly from your quote with –

    “Donors will have to keep a sharp eye out for ever more sophisticated scams, as quick to apply the stick as to offer the carrot.

    Let’s drop the Pollyanna rhetoric. Instead of congratulating the continent on what is, after all, an overdue and still tentative shift towards accountable government, we should acknowledge that one of Africa’s biggest blights has been its appalling leadership.”

    I’m not in complete agreement with the pieces.. but they are indicative of valid criticisms of Bob’s public position that writing off the debt will provide the impetus for everything else to follow, as promoted in the Africa Commission’s report – and it’s the airing of that criticism that is the reason for this thread.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    For brevity I did not use the whole paragraph, I hope, without altering the sense. She favours the goals of the campaign and counsels against excessive optimism. Unless you believe that the GCAP either denies the existence of misgovernment or is somehow in favour of it, I see nothing in the article that could be said in any fundamental sense to be “against” what the organisers are attempting to do. You also question rhetorically whether they are doing “the right thing” without giving any indication of what you believe it to be, unless of course you’re endorsing Mr. Cohen’s embassy picket proposal.

    Henry,

    The opening of markets is one of the campaign goals.

  • peteb

    For brevity, jimmy? Hmmm.. more than one paragraph after your quote.. and more before it..

    BTW, by GCAP, I assume you mean “Global Campaign Against Poverty”?

    The point of my criticism is that narrowing of the focus to the issue of debt, and thereby the actions of ‘others’.. as Bob has done.

    Far better to follow Nick Cohen’s suggestion rather than marching on Gleneagles.

    As for counselling against optimism.. Michela Wrong directly refutes the basis of the Africa Commission’s report on which the promotion of writing off debt as the primary issue in Bob’s campaign is based.

  • Alex

    “I’ve never understood why resentment of celebrities is at its most virulent when they have the effrontery to try to do something constructive”

    Possibly because if they just sit in their big houses they aren’t directly asking us to part with our cash!

  • Jimmy_Sands

    I cited the passage which summarised her conclusion as I understood it. If you feel that I traduced her then you can explain what you think she really meant. I use GCAP as it seems a more accurate usage than to refer to the campaign as if it was was based on his personal opinions, particularly as I suspect there are those here who may have axes to grind with Geldof on issues which have little to do with Africa. You only need to look at the campaign’s own materials to see that they have not narrowed the focus to the issue of debt, but rather seek a package of measures including the trade liberalisation to which Henry referred as well as a substantial increase in aid. Ms. Wrong refers explicitly to these three goals and does so with approval.

    The Africa Commission report section on corruption concludes with the following passage:

    “These are the main measures required on governance. Unless there are improvements in all these areas this Commission has concluded, after a detailed review of all the evidence,that all the other reforms we will recommend – in international trade, debt and aid – will have only limited impact.”

    You appear to be setting up a straw man. Once again, you suggest GCAP is not doing the “right thing”. What in your view is “the right thing?”

  • peteb

    Jimmy

    I have no desire nor intent to set up ‘straw men’.. The thread began with a criticism of Bob’s public statements, in part because he has a tendency to use simplistic sloganing that, IMO, distorts a complex issue.

    I deliberately tried to avoid excerpting from Michela Wrong’s article, and Nick Cohen’s because I felt they introduced a number of elements that were being lost in the promotion of the overall campaign by Bob and they deserved to be read as a whole.

    Whether you suspect others of personal axes to grind is, if you’ll forgive me, irrelevant.. as the title of this thread may suggest.. if GCAP feel that Bob is a detriment to the focus of their campaign then they should ask him to step away from the microphone.. but that’s their decision, and I think they are probably quite content for him to generate publicity in whatever manner possible. But the clear impression given by other participants (Midge Ure for example) in Live 8 is that they would rather concentrate on the concerts as a way to increase the visibility of that campaign.

    Bob’s public focus has clearly been on the issue of debt and on his promotion of the belief that one big event will change everything… that may be his publicity-orientated mind at work.. My point is that the focus should be on the issues of law and democracy.. in whatever way they can be formulated in the countries concerned.. and that it’s not going to be easy.

    The sub-heading of the Michela Wrong article comes close to my own view on this – “Live 8’s aims are laudable … but Africa’s tarnished leaders must first be held to account.” [my emphasis]

    The position that Zimbabwe continues to hold on the UN Human Rights Commission might be a good place to start.

    As Nick Cohen article does conclude – “In other words, the choice between human and economic rights isn’t either/or. It’s both or neither.”

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “one big event will change everything”

    Can you cite any occasion on which he, or anyone connected with the campaign for that matter, has made this claim?

  • peteb

    Well, Jimmy, whatever our disagreements about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of Bob as a frontman for the campaign.. at least you don’t disagree with all my other points.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    I think I’ve made it quite clear that I do. Your premise seems to be that he has an agenda distinct form that of the other participants. Your criticisms of that position (which strike me as somewhat protean) appear (and I’m open to correction) to be that he emphasises debt relief to the exclusion or at least the detriment of other issues, that he believes that the 8 aid concert will “change everything” and that he is unconcerned, or at least insufficiently concerned with governance issues. All of these would be quite valid criticisms if they were true, but you’ve not presented anything to indicate that he holds the rather starry-eyed views you wish to attribute to him.

    The quote from Cohen’s piece is, I agree, a false dichotomy. Who do you believe is suggesting otherwise? Geldof, I assume, but even Ms. Wrong manages to mention at least in passing the fact that Geldof has called for Museveni to stand down, although not mentioning that he was sufficiently stung by the vehemence to organise an anti-Geldof demonstration. His views on Mugabe and others are a matter of record and, you’ll grant him this much I trust, tend to avoid the more diplomatic circumlocutions heard elsewhere.

    I feel bound to say also, and this is not directed at you, I find the sullen begrudgery surrounding this discussion profoundly depressing. There are worthier targets for scorn.

  • peteb

    Whether or not you believe I’m being protean in my criticisms, Jimmy.. I’ll Just note Sting’s comments on the concert – “It’s a celebration.. not a protest”

    And, as I said earlier –

    The sub-heading of the Michela Wrong article comes close to my own view on this – “Live 8’s aims are laudable … but Africa’s tarnished leaders must first be held to account.” [my emphasis]

    The position that Zimbabwe continues to hold on the UN Human Rights Commission might be a good place to start.

    As Nick Cohen’s article does conclude – “In other words, the choice between human and economic rights isn’t either/or. It’s both or neither.”