Tuesday 5 July 2005


I like Bob Geldof. The man's sensible and realistic. All this time he's been worrying about Africa, he's kept his mind open, and has been willing to notice and admit it when a solution doesn't work. He knows that Africa's biggest problems right now are corruption and violent dictatorships, and he says as much. He's a fan of President Bush and disparaging of Clinton, because he values what people do more highly than what they say. He knows that money doesn't solve corruption (quite the opposite), so got the right idea with Live 8: pressure powerful governments to pressure African governments to reform. I think that's one of the best proposals anyone's made yet. And yet something went awry. Mark Steyn knows what:

Let's take it as read that Sir Bob and Sir Bono are exceptionally well informed and articulate on Africa's problems. Why then didn't they get the rest of the guys round for a meeting beforehand with graphs and pie charts and bullet points in bright magic markers, so that Sir Dave and Dame Madonna would understand that Africa's problem is not a lack of "aid". The tragedy of Live8 is that its message was as cobwebbed as its repertoire.

That's it, right there. Geldof's an intelligent man with a good idea, but he invited a bunch of ill-informed wrong-headed twonks on stage and forgot to tell them to shut up.

That being said, he has done a fantastic job. I have never in my life heard so many news reports about African poverty in which the problem of corruption is given such prominence. Even Radio One's vapid Newsbeat (oh, how I hate that name) spent a few minutes yesterday talking about ways to reduce government corruption, even giving the problem higher billing than the ever-popular lack of aid. My jaw hit the floor. The terms of the debate have been changed for the better. Thanks, Bob.

I wonder when Madonna will notice?


And inviting Kofi Annan on stage was an appalling mistake. Few men embody governmental corruption more.

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