Dead Men Left

Friday, June 03, 2005

But what about the grass in Hyde Park? Geldofite wreckers threaten fabric of society

Despite everything, Bob Geldof is fundamentally ace[*]. Frankly, anyone who gets Clare Short, the Lothian Police and right-wing union bureaucrats ranged against them has to be doing something right. The G8 protests had a serious risk of becoming a stage-managed jamboree for Gordon Brown, Saviour of Africa. They've been given an almighty kick up the arse by Geldof because, one, he's created a collossal amount of media attention; and two, he's done so by breaking with the happy Oxfam-led consensus - good protestors attend for speeches on July 2, bad protestors turn up July 6 to snarl at the G8.

The only demo I remember getting anything like this attention was the anti-war protest on Feb 15, 2003. (It's just about possible that, in calling for a million protestors, and suggesting kids leave their schools, Geldof has the anti-war demos in mind.) Even then the media ball didn't get rolling until about a fortnight beforehand. We've got just over a month to get to Scotland. From down here, I do believe the faint sound of panic can be heard:

Sir Bob Geldof's appeal for one million protesters to descend on Edinburgh during the G8 summit could end in "tragedy", police have warned.

As preparations are getting under way today for the sequel to Live Aid, Assistant Chief Constable Ian Dickinson said the numbers of people Sir Bob Geldof was calling on to march on the Scottish capital was "potentially hazardous".

As Rhetoric (from whom the quote is taken) says, "Ignoring for the moment the traditional misuse of what tragedy might mean, let's relax and discover that we can write scary process stories about what might happen (maybe) and ignore the guaranteed tragedy on a far larger scale as poverty and famine made worse by crippling debt continues to kill people all over the third world."

The variant on this theme is to loudly annuonce how terribly concerned one is for the plight of the world's poor, but that our poor shopkeepers will suffer awfully:

Tim Steward, chairman of the Edinburgh branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said Geldof and Ure should compensate businesses for the millions they would lose on the day. He said firms would "shut up shop" after hearing Geldof's comments.

It's no wonder they're only running small businesses if, faced with a captive market of one million potential customers they choose to "shut up shop". Cretins.

On a similar theme, why is the Guardian claiming Geldof's call for protests is a cause for "dismay"? Look at these comments on the BBC website: the majority posting are clearly very happy indeed.

(NB: Midge Ure, given his comments yesterday, will be filed alongside Bono in that special category reserved for snivelling aging rocker dilletantes who play at politics. I half expect Bono to appear, possibly with Paul "I'm usually a pacifist, but this war is too important" McCartney in tow, to loudly condemn Geldofite wreckers and demand neo-sensiblist Blairite messianism as the only possible solution for the world's ills. Splitters! Sell-outs!)

Meanwhile, Brown pushes ahead with a "modern Marshall Plan", using "modern" in a very New Labour sense. The promises on debt have been made year after year after year, the International Finance Facility is quite close to being a sick joke (see this piece by Pablo), and where he should talk about trade justice there is a suspicious silence.

If you're going to Scotland - and you should be - don't believe the hype. Skive work, bunk school, onwards to Gleneagles and victory.

[*] This judgement subject to revision as necessary.