G8

From The Dark Underbelly of British Politics

In 2005 the G8 met in Scotland. A few days before the summit itself many protesters made their way to Dungavel, Scotland’s detention centre.

I blogged about it at the time for spinwatch

Respecting the Right to Protest – Exactly Where Did This Happen?

Tuesday Morning. Meet in George Square to get the bus to the protest at Dungavel –Scotland’s concentration camp. There was already a large police contingent in the square. What they were expecting us to do I have no idea.

On the bus we began to wonder why it was taking longer than it should have to get there. The police had put in a number of diversions and actually had ‘Road Closed’ signs in a lot of places. We considered stopping the bus and removing them, as it was nothing more than a tactic to ensure less people got to Dungavel.

When we arrived people were whispering to each other that the police were trying to provoke an incident so that they had an excuse to cancel the following days protest at Gleneagles (more to follow on this). People were also telling each other not to take the bait and to save it for Wednesday at Gleneagles itself.

It certainly felt like the police were attempting to scare people. There was a line of horses at the back of the car park where we were congregated. Police, some of whom had dogs,were standing a foot or so apart right around the area we were standing and they ringed us in. Mark Brown made a speech early on…something along the lines of “we’re all animal lovers here; we like dogs and horses but can I say to the police that if they want to take their horses for a trot could they look out for all the kids that are around.” I got the feeling if he hadn’t said this then something fairly bad would have happened. There were also reinforcements in a field just out of sight of where the protestors were standing.

As the day went on a whole group of protestors were surrounded and not allowed up to the detention centre. No explanations were given. A hundred or so protestors came back out of the stage area down to the entrance to see what was going on. After holding them back for about 20 minutes for no apparent reason at all they let them go.

Soon after this Rosie Kane arrived on stage and told of one of the buses which was stopped (not hers). She left her bus and found that everyone on the bus which had been stopped was having their name and address taken and they were about to be individually photographed by the police. They were told if they did not comply the bus would be turned round and sent back to Edinburgh. Other buses were given the run-around with dodgy directions and diverted traffic signs.

At the end of the demo people joined up and marched out together with one last message before going back to their buses. No borders, No nations, Stop deportations. Unsurprisingly, the roadblocks and diversions were gone and the journey back was not subject to searches or harassment.

The only reason I can think of for this behaviour is that the police were either A- afraid of another Woomera – which is unlikely as they had moved all the prisoners out (see Ska TV’s excellent film about Woomera here http://www.archive.org/details/skatvWoomeraRegugeebreakout – after downloading it you need to change the file name for some reason) or B- they were trying to provoke an incident in order to have an excuse to cancel the demo at Gleneagles – which they tried to do anyway – but they didn’t have an excuse! Gleneagles in next blog.

The intimidation that day was something to behold.

This is the audio from the protest.

 

 

Him and Bono

Here is article I wrote a while back. It still has some relevance I think…

——————————————————————————————————————–

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT

 

Here is a thought for you… there is a certain species of man, his role being undefined or undefinable, that those in power, unsure of what to do with him, grab him and put a hook in him and leave him dangling on a line for his fellow men to grab onto.

Now the truth is I don’t know where that thought came from. I woke up with it this morning after I was struggling to think of what to say in this article last night.

And there he was in my mind, brave Bob, from the 80s, banging the table, send us the fucking money (even though he didn’t really say that). Where did he come from? What was this hairy thing that had come out of nowhere to remind us all that there was a world outside our homes, offices and schools?

Here was someone actually trying to do something. Making us all feel that we were doing something too.

Ahhhh, I think we have discovered where the problem begins.

Making us feel that we were doing something.

What was Bob starting in the 80s? A caring revolution? It certainly felt that way for those of us who were young at the time and didn’t know enough to see through the bullshit.

And many many more were mollified – let them know its Christmas, we are the world, 20 quid donated and all is right again. Or, at least they won’t upset us with those pictures of the babies with the swollen stomachs and the flies anymore.

Do something, by not doing very much at all. Send your money now he said, and thousands, millions did.

Thank you, he said. You really made a difference.

But we didn’t. It just continued to get worse, but Bob’s saintliness continued to grow.

In the 20 years that followed, so many other things sprang up. Comic relief, Sport Aid and many more. The NGO sector ballooned to a size it has never known before. Charity standing orders, sponsor a child, Oxfam will even send you a free pen so you can fill in the form immediately, and all the guilt is dissipated. Or suppressed.

And all the while, the Western governments policies toward the third world were changing. The Bretton Woods Institutions were making policies designed to loot the third world for its wealth. There was no more Communist threat so the subsidies designed to keep the developing nations on side against the red menace were slashed. Markets were opened, resources were plundered. The NGOs and the charities became a sticking plaster over a bullet wound.

Bob was still flying round the world though, showing us all the good that these sticking plasters were doing, and going to new places to show us where more were needed.

He was meeting the people in power, and telling them straight that if they didn’t do something then he would have to have another concert and make them look bad again.

And on and on it continued, and the G8 came to Scotland.

Bob gets in the mix early, so the leaders, not wanting to look bad, join in. Bob is photographed after an MTV interview with his head on Blair’s shoulder looking like a dog having its belly scratched. He believes Tony is a good man, and really wants to help. But we must keep the pressure on…by having a party.

Sing and dance he said, not while you are facing the water cannons and the dogs, but so you don’t have to. If we party hard enough then they will have to change things won’t they?

Partying is absolution he said, it is the end rather than the means. A party is all it takes. A corporate-sponsored cocaine- fuelled celebrity wankfest will change the world. You can even buy McDonalds on your way there. We can bring Bill Gates on and introduce him as the greatest philanthropist in the world. You don’t even have to give any money this time. Just wear white, hell, you can even buy your new white t-shirt at the gap. It will help to give some people jobs. Madonna will ask us if we are ready for a revolution.[1]

Don’t worry that asking Bush and Blair to deal with poverty problems in the worlds poorest nations is akin to asking a superbug to run a hospital. Party hard enough and it will all come good, or you will be so drunk that you won’t notice anymore.

Don’t worry about the war. We won’t even let people bring you down by talking about the war. Our organizers will make sure that those people are not allowed on the stage. We will even say that the issues of poverty and war are unrelated.[2] It is better, after all, to look at starving Africans who are dying because the rain didn’t come than to look at blown up Middle Eastern children who are dying because of your indifference.

Don’t worry if you think I am taking too big a role in this. Some of the nice NGOs can come along for the ride too. They can join the campaign. They have been working in the field for a long time and know the problems more than most. Their donations might go up a bit. It doesn’t really matter if the need for all those donations becomes more crucial because it will be a good party.

Don’t worry if you think we are too closely involved with the powers that be – even Gandhi and MLK had a dialogue with the power people. True, they didn’t phone them up and ask permission first if they wanted to register people to vote or march through a salt mine but that just shows how much things have progressed now doesn’t it?

Don’t worry that I am now ‘Sir’ Bob and ‘Sir’ is a title given to those who serve the state. If they gave it to me surely that shows they really want to help the people in poor countries doesn’t it?

Don’t worry that we are not letting anyone African near the stage or the microphones.

Don’t worry about the nagging doubts at the back of your mind that even though it is utterly inadequate, the money you spent today could have been better used if you had donated it to someone.

Don’t worry about the fact that if you had all chosen to buy nothing, eat nothing and not go to work for a couple of days this would have worried the G8 far more than the sort of nothing you are doing today (empathizing with someones lack of things to consume by consuming more).

Don’t worry about all those nasty anarchists trying to frighten your children. We will help the police to brutalise them and the media to vilify them. The Daily Mail will call them “gangs of masked extremists.” We will make it appear that they are something between Al-qaeda and football hooligans, even though it is us who are begging for scraps from the table of those who instigated an illegal war.

And at the end of it all they will let me, yes ME, Sir Bob, your representative, into the G8 to have a quick word with them before the real meetings…and they might not even laugh in my face.

Just don’t worry, ok?

They were talking about how they were going to march on […], march on the […], march on the […], march on the […] and tie it up – bring it to a halt and not let the government proceed. They even said they were going out to the airport to lay down on the runway and not let any airplanes land. I’m telling you what they said – that was revolution, that was revolution, that was the revolution. It was the grassroots out there in the street; it scared the white man to death; scared the white power structure in […] to death – I was there. When they found out that this steamroller was going to come down on the capital they called in these national leaders that you respect and told them call it off. [The power structure] said ‘look you all are letting this thing go too far’ and old […] said ‘Boss I can’t stop it I because I didn’t start it.’

I’m telling you what they said. They said ‘I’m not even in it much less at the head of it.’ They said ‘these [people] are doing things on their own; they’re running ahead of us.’ And that old, shrewd fox, he said ‘if you all aren’t in it I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it, I’ll endorse it, I’ll welcome it, I’ll help it, I’ll join it.’

“This is what they did with the march on […], they joined it, became part of it, took it over. And as they took it over it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march – it became a picnic, a circus, nothing but a circus – with clowns and all.

————————————————————————————-

Postcript

The passage above was Malcolm X was speaking a couple of months after the March on Washington. It is a source of debate how much was actually achieved by that march. At least, at the end of it came a piece of oratory that no one who has heard it is likely to forget. This time there was only Chris Martin from Coldplay, who I have seen painted in some papers as a hardline radical, saying that “this [the concert] is the greatest thing organised in the history of the world.” Possible overstatement? After all funerals, when organised correctly, can be more fun than a Mariah Carey concert.

Geldof, like the marchers may have helped in getting people to believe that something has to be done. However, he has done nothing to help them understand why these problems persist, who is causing them and whether or not something is actually being done about them. On the last of those points in particular he has been counter-productive.

At the end of it all, here are some of the things Bob said…

“10 out of 10 on aid, eight out of 10 on debt.”

“Never before have so many people forced a change of policy onto a global agenda. If anyone had said eight weeks ago will we get a doubling of aid, will we get a deal on debt, people would have said ‘no’,.”

“without equivocation the greatest G8 summit there has ever been for Africa”.

He said this even though many of the NGOs that were part of his Make Poverty History campaign asked him not to.

Here is a quick representative sample of what some of the mainstream NGOs said…

Action Aid – (by no means the most radical of NGOs) “What Africa needed from the G8 was a giant leap forward, all it got was tiny steps. The deal that has been announced falls way short of our demands. We have some aid, but not enough, some debt relief but not enough and virtually nothing on trade. Once again Africa’s people have been short-changed”.

Global Call to Action Against Poverty –were angry that the promise to deliver $50bn extra aid by 2010 was “like waiting 5 years before responding to the tsunami”.

Jubilee Debt Campaign – “G8 debt deal is not 100 per cent debt cancellation” it “immediately benefits only 18 countries” and “reinforces the harmful economic policy conditions enforced through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative”

Here is what some of the more radical ones said…

World Development Movement – “an insult to the hundreds of thousands of campaigners… a disaster for the world’s poor. The agreements on trade, debt, aid and climate change are nowhere near sufficient to tackle the global poverty and environmental crisis we face.”

50 Years is Enough – “By retaining the HIPC structure, the G8 perpetuates the requirement that countries submit to demands for economic disarmament in favor of promoting the interests of foreign capital before they can get the consequential debt considered for cancellation.”

War on Want“[the G8 has] given less than 10% of our demand on debt cancellation and not even a fifth of what we called for on aid. On trade, the G8 has hardened its stance, forcing more countries to open their markets and threatening millions with the misery of poverty. When the moment came to act, the G8 turned their backs on the world’s poor.”

Jubilee South – “The multilateral debt cancellation being proposed is still clearly tied to compliance with conditionalities which exacerbate poverty, open our countries further for exploitation and plunder, and perpetuate the domination of the South.”

No change of policy came, there was a soundbite or two, a cleverly disguised ‘same again’ financial package that in some cases left people worse off than before. Even the few promises that were made were quickly forgotten, or reneged upon. The Italian government very quickly said it probably couldn’t meet its promises. Gordon Brown admitted that there wasn’t really much new money – it was just money brought forward.

The lack of positive outcomes from it all may be disappointing/disgusting/infuriating/inhuman (delete as applicable) but it is not surprising. Why would the caretakers of an economic system that is responsible for the majority of world poverty suddenly alter their views based on a pop concert and a walk around town? The strategy of co-opting the more moderate elements of a campaign in order to freeze out the radicals is as old as the hills. What on earth convinced the NGOs that jumped into bed with Blair that things would be any different this time?

Just maybe, it was Bob.

Couple the muzzling of the NGOs with a failed rock stars predilection for getting publicity howsoever it can be gotten and we are left with a potent recipe for impotence.

All that was achieved was that the government was forced to up the marketing ante to an enormous and enormously powerful marketing campaign and another successful hoodwink was performed on the populace.

After judging last years summit a success, I wonder what would happen if Bob was left to judge himself…

“You can’t trust politicians. It doesn’t matter who makes a political speech. It’s all lies… and it applies to any rock star who wants to make a political speech as well.

“People will always reach over the impenetrable roar of political discourse to help a human on the other side.

P.S..

I started this out as an academic style article but I changed my mind because there are a few things it would have been just too easy to mention.

It would have been too easy to point out that Geldof’s own production company Ten Alps provided the two big screens in Hyde Park and is closely associated with the government and has made programmes for the Department for Education and Skills and that the exposure it got from Live 8 could not fail to help it.[3]

It would have been too easy to point out that even though he said a somewhat controversial line to her he was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher… “She lashed out at every institution she saw. The Monarchy, The old Tory party, the old Labour Party. She was a Punk.”

It would have been too easy to point out that the Planet 24 TV company he was involved in is responsible for subjecting the nation to CHRIS FUCKING EVANS.

It would have been too easy to point out that although performers were not paid it is alleged that some received gifts up to the value of $1,700 and that the Prince’s trust was paid 1.6 million pounds to cancel its party in the park.

I was going to mention that stuff but it would have been too easy.


[1] the same Madonna that was furious that the Scottish Parliament would not amend the law so that she could keep the public out of the grounds of her mansion

[2] Yes, one of the organizers really did say that. The stop the war people were not allowed a stage as part of the official event.

[3] http://www.spinwatch.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1238

DEAR GELDOF AND URE…

Rediscovered in the email archives was this little beauty from my brother. Thought i would reprint it here.

I also wrote a little something about Geldof, which you can find here.

Dear Geldof and Ure,

I write to take issue with your hugely successful, 1984 famine fundraising song “Do They Know Its Christmas”.

The issues I have are mostly with the lyrics, as follows.

* “Feed The World” – there is no need to feed the whole world, particularly as you rightly state in a later verse that we live in a “world of plenty”. Surely the message should be to distribute food more equitably around the world.

* “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears” – About 70% of the planet is water and oceans, seas, rivers, streams and canals appear to be flowing constantly at varying speeds. Human lacrimal glands secrete mostly water with a salty element, albeit with a neutral PH that would exclude the possibility of any bitter stinging of skin.

* “And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom” – Africa is not Mordor. Also, it is not predominantly Christian and is mostly Muslim, Arab or of indigenous beliefs. If church bells sound anywhere then it would not be a chime as such but a “ring”.

* “Well tonight thank God its them instead of you ” – this is a self-centred and selfish attitude but typical of modern celebrities and pop stars. Do you seriously expect Christians in general to pray at night that they are glad that Africans are dying of malnutrition, cholera, HIV and malaria as opposed to them? This is not something that clergy would advocate and I am sure the early missionaries to Africa would be aghast at the very thought.

* “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime” – There is permanent snow on Mount Kiliminjaro in Tanzania, also on the higher peaks in Lesotho and South Africa where skiiing is possible. A basic grasp of world geography would tell you this. Please ensure the correct meteorological advice is taken before writing lyrics of this nature.

* “Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow” – This is a major error. Africa is a huge continent crossed by both Tropics and the equator. Granted, large swathes are desert where no rain or rivers flow for periods of the year but Africa also has enormous lush rainforests, plains, steppes and prairies and the green Ethiopian Highlands as well as neighbouring Congo, Kenya and Uganda enjoy significant rainfall. The Victoria Falls In Zambia certainly flow, at vast speeds and with the largest width and water volume of any waterfall in the world. The Congo River is so vast that it and its tributaries can provide water for one third of the world’s population and The Nile is the longest river on Earth. In addition, 19th century pioneer David Livingstone navigated the Zambezi in a boat and would have been unable to do so without it flowing, with or without oars.

* “Let them know its Christmastime again” – Why would you? Most are non-Christians anyway and the concept of eveyone wasting money on presents and eating and drinking gargantuan amounts would probably not be understood or approved of and undo the good work of aid agencies and charities. Also, surely to remind them repeatedly is wrong and highly insensitive.

I hope you accept these points and amend the inaccuracies if there is to be a re-release, that is if you have time between occasionally performing “I Don’t Like Mondays” in front of minor royalty or touring small jazz clubs playing 4 different “Vienna” remixes before making way for an X-factor finalist.

Finally, in today’s more PC society I also suggest that if Band Aid are reformed you think more carefully about the line-up. Songs about famine by people with several houses is surely sending out mixed messages.

Have a good late December/early January

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT

First published at http://www.selvesandothers.org

Here is a thought for you… there is a certain species of man, his role being undefined or undefinable, that those in power, unsure of what to do with him, grab, put a hook through his finger and leave dangling on a line for his fellow men to grab onto.

Now the truth is I don’t know where that thought came from. I woke up with it this morning after I was struggling to think of what to say in this article last night.

And there he was in my mind, brave Bob, from the 80s, banging the table, send us the fucking money (even though he didn’t really say that). Where did he come from? What was this hairy thing that had come out of nowhere to remind us all that there was a world outside our homes, offices and schools?

Here was someone actually trying to do something. Making us all feel that we were doing something too.

Ahhhh, I think we have discovered where the problem begins.

Making us feel that we were doing something.

What was Bob starting in the 80s? A caring revolution? It certainly felt that way for those of us who were young at the time and didn’t know enough to see through the bullshit.

And many many more were mollified – let them know its Christmas, we are the world, 20 quid donated and all is right again. Or, at least they won’t upset us with those pictures of the babies with the swollen stomachs and the flies anymore.

Do something, by not doing very much at all. Send your money now he said, and thousands, millions did.

Thank you, he said. You really made a difference.

But we didn’t. It just continued to get worse, but Bob’s saintliness continued to grow.

In the 20 years that followed, so many other things sprang up. Comic relief, Sport Aid and many more. The NGO sector ballooned to a size it has never known before. Charity standing orders, sponsor a child, Oxfam will even send you a free pen so you can fill in the form immediately, and all the guilt is dissipated. Or suppressed.

And all the while, the Western governments policies toward the third world were changing. The Bretton Woods Institutions were making policies designed to loot the third world for its wealth. There was no more Communist threat so the subsidies designed to keep the developing nations on side against the red menace were slashed. Markets were opened, resources were plundered. The NGOs and the charities became a sticking plaster over a bullet wound.

Bob was still flying round the world though, showing us all the good that these sticking plasters were doing, and going to new places to show us where more were needed.

He was meeting the people in power, and telling them straight that if they didn’t do something then he would have to have another concert and make them look bad again.

And on and on it continued, and the G8 came to Scotland.

Bob gets in the mix early, so the leaders, not wanting to look bad, join in. Bob is photographed after an MTV interview with his head on Blair’s shoulder looking like a dog having its belly scratched. He believes Tony is a good man, and really wants to help. But we must keep the pressure on…by having a party.

Sing and dance he said, not while you are facing the water cannons and the dogs, but so you don’t have to. If we party hard enough then they will have to change things won’t they?

Partying is absolution he said, it is the end rather than the means. A party is all it takes. A corporate-sponsored cocaine- fuelled celebrity wankfest will change the world. You can even buy McDonalds on your way there. We can bring Bill Gates on and introduce him as the greatest philanthropist in the world. You don’t even have to give any money this time. Just wear white, hell, you can even buy your new white t-shirt at the gap. It will help to give some people jobs. Madonna will ask us if we are ready for a revolution.[1]

Don’t worry that asking Bush and Blair to deal with poverty problems in the worlds poorest nations is akin to asking a superbug to run a hospital. Party hard enough and it will all come good, or you will be so drunk that you won’t notice anymore.

Don’t worry about the war. We won’t even let people bring you down by talking about the war. Our organizers will make sure that those people are not allowed on the stage. We will even say that the issues of poverty and war are unrelated.[2] It is better, after all, to look at starving Africans who are dying because the rain didn’t come than to look at blown up Middle Eastern children who are dying because of your indifference.

Don’t worry if you think I am taking too big a role in this. Some of the nice NGOs can come along for the ride too. They can join the campaign. They have been working in the field for a long time and know the problems more than most. Their donations might go up a bit. It doesn’t really matter if the need for all those donations becomes more crucial because it will be a good party.

Don’t worry if you think we are too closely involved with the powers that be – even Gandhi and MLK had a dialogue with the power people. True, they didn’t phone them up and ask permission first if they wanted to register people to vote or march through a salt mine but that just shows how much things have progressed now doesn’t it?

Don’t worry that I am now ‘Sir’ Bob and ‘Sir’ is a title given to those who serve the state. If they gave it to me surely that shows they really want to help the people in poor countries doesn’t it?

Don’t worry that we are not letting anyone African near the stage or the microphones.

Don’t worry about the nagging doubts at the back of your mind that even though it is utterly inadequate, the money you spent today could have been better used if you had donated it to someone.

Don’t worry about the fact that if you had all chosen to buy nothing, eat nothing and not go to work for a couple of days this would have worried the G8 far more than the sort of nothing you are doing today (empathizing with someones lack of things to consume by consuming more).

Don’t worry about all those nasty anarchists trying to frighten your children. We will help the police to brutalise them and the media to vilify them. The Daily Mail will call them “gangs of masked extremists.” We will make it appear that they are something between Al-qaeda and football hooligans, even though it is us who are begging for scraps from the table of those who instigated an illegal war.

And at the end of it all they will let me, yes ME, Sir Bob, your representative, into the G8 to have a quick word with them before the real meetings…and they might not even laugh in my face.

Just don’t worry, ok?

They were talking about how they were going to march on […], march on the […], march on the […], march on the […] and tie it up – bring it to a halt and not let the government proceed. They even said they were going out to the airport to lay down on the runway and not let any airplanes land. I’m telling you what they said – that was revolution, that was revolution, that was the revolution. It was the grassroots out there in the street; it scared the white man to death; scared the white power structure in […] to death – I was there. When they found out that this steamroller was going to come down on the capital they called in these national leaders that you respect and told them call it off. [The power structure] said ‘look you all are letting this thing go too far’ and old […] said ‘Boss I can’t stop it I because I didn’t start it.’

I’m telling you what they said. They said ‘I’m not even in it much less at the head of it.’ They said ‘these [people] are doing things on their own; they’re running ahead of us.’ And that old, shrewd fox, he said ‘if you all aren’t in it I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it, I’ll endorse it, I’ll welcome it, I’ll help it, I’ll join it.’

“This is what they did with the march on […], they joined it, became part of it, took it over. And as they took it over it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march – it became a picnic, a circus, nothing but a circus – with clowns and all.

————————————————————————————-

Postcript

The passage above was Malcolm X was speaking a couple of months after the March on Washington. It is a source of debate how much was actually achieved by that march. At least, at the end of it came a piece of oratory that no one who has heard it is likely to forget. This time there was only Chris Martin from Coldplay, who I have seen painted in some papers as a hardline radical, saying that “this [the concert] is the greatest thing organised in the history of the world.” Possible overstatement? After all funerals, when organised correctly, can be more fun than a Mariah Carey concert.

Geldof, like the marchers may have helped in getting people to believe that something has to be done. However, he has done nothing to help them understand why these problems persist, who is causing them and whether or not something is actually being done about them. On the last of those points in particular he has been counter-productive.

At the end of it all, here are some of the things Bob said…

“10 out of 10 on aid, eight out of 10 on debt.”

“Never before have so many people forced a change of policy onto a global agenda. If anyone had said eight weeks ago will we get a doubling of aid, will we get a deal on debt, people would have said ‘no’,.”

“without equivocation the greatest G8 summit there has ever been for Africa”.

He said this even though many of the NGOs that were part of his Make Poverty History campaign asked him not to.

Here is a quick representative sample of what some of the mainstream NGOs said…

Action Aid – (by no means the most radical of NGOs) “What Africa needed from the G8 was a giant leap forward, all it got was tiny steps. The deal that has been announced falls way short of our demands. We have some aid, but not enough, some debt relief but not enough and virtually nothing on trade. Once again Africa’s people have been short-changed”.

Global Call to Action Against Poverty –were angry that the promise to deliver $50bn extra aid by 2010 was “like waiting 5 years before responding to the tsunami”.

Jubilee Debt Campaign – “G8 debt deal is not 100 per cent debt cancellation” it “immediately benefits only 18 countries” and “reinforces the harmful economic policy conditions enforced through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative”

Here is what some of the more radical ones said…

World Development Movement – “an insult to the hundreds of thousands of campaigners… a disaster for the world’s poor. The agreements on trade, debt, aid and climate change are nowhere near sufficient to tackle the global poverty and environmental crisis we face.”

50 Years is Enough – “By retaining the HIPC structure, the G8 perpetuates the requirement that countries submit to demands for economic disarmament in favor of promoting the interests of foreign capital before they can get the consequential debt considered for cancellation.”

War on Want“[the G8 has] given less than 10% of our demand on debt cancellation and not even a fifth of what we called for on aid. On trade, the G8 has hardened its stance, forcing more countries to open their markets and threatening millions with the misery of poverty. When the moment came to act, the G8 turned their backs on the world’s poor.”

Jubilee South – “The multilateral debt cancellation being proposed is still clearly tied to compliance with conditionalities which exacerbate poverty, open our countries further for exploitation and plunder, and perpetuate the domination of the South.”

No change of policy came, there was a soundbite or two, a cleverly disguised ‘same again’ financial package that in some cases left people worse off than before. Even the few promises that were made were quickly forgotten, or reneged upon. The Italian government very quickly said it probably couldn’t meet its promises. Gordon Brown admitted that there wasn’t really much new money- it was just money brought forward.

The lack of positive outcomes from it all may be disappointing/disgusting/infuriating/inhuman (delete as applicable) but it is not surprising. Why would the caretakers of an economic system that is responsible for the majority of world poverty suddenly alter their views based on a pop concert and a walk around town? The strategy of co-opting the more moderate elements of a campaign in order to freeze out the radicals is as old as the hills. What on earth convinced the NGOs that jumped into bed with Blair that things would be any different this time?

Just maybe, it was Bob.

Couple the muzzling of the NGOs with a failed rock stars predilection for getting publicity howsoever it can be gotten and we are left with a potent recipe for impotence.

All that was achieved was that the government was forced to up the marketing ante to an enormous and enormously powerful marketing campaign and another successful hoodwink was performed on the populace.

After judging last years summit a success, I wonder what would happen if Bob was left to judge himself…

“You can’t trust politicians. It doesn’t matter who makes a political speech. It’s all lies… and it applies to any rock star who wants to make a political speech as well.

“People will always reach over the impenetrable roar of political discourse to help a human on the other side.

P.S..

I started this out as an academic style article but I changed my mind because there are a few things it would have been just too easy to mention.

It would have been too easy to point out that Geldof’s own production company Ten Alps provided the two big screens in Hyde Park and is closely associated with the government and has made programmes for the Department for Education and Skills and that the exposure it got from Live 8 could not fail to help it.[3]

It would have been too easy to point out that even though he said a somewhat controversial line to her he was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher… “She lashed out at every institution she saw. The Monarchy, The old Tory party, the old Labour Party. She was a Punk.”

It would have been too easy to point out that the Planet 24 TV company he was involved in is responsible for subjecting the nation to CHRIS FUCKING EVANS.

It would have been too easy to point out that although performers were not paid it is alleged that some received gifts up to the value of $1,700 and that the Prince’s trust was paid 1.6 million pounds to cancel its party in the park.

I was going to mention that stuff but it would have been too easy.


[1] the same Madonna that was furious that the Scottish Parliament would not amend the law so that she could keep the public out of the grounds of her mansion

[2] Yes, one of the organizers really did say that. The stop the war people were not allowed a stage as part of the official event.

[3] http://www.spinwatch.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1238

THE MIAMI MODEL

Does this remind anyone of any recent events?

“I woke up this morning to the sound of helicopters. Let me tell ya, they can stop our buses and they can try to keep our people out. They can harass us with more cops than we could ever believe. They can try to stop our people from getting in. But they sure as hell can’t stop our movement for social and economic justice for the workers….sisters and brothers – this is a fight not just for economic justice but clearly from what you can see in the streets today this is a fight about whether we will have democracy.”

It is from a speech made by a union organiser at the November 2003 Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) protests in Miami. I will steal a joke and say that the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is not a complete misnomer…it does have to do with the Americas. This film however is mainly about the ‘model’ for policing that was established by the Miami forces at that particular summit.

The policing issue is the middle section of the film but it begins and ends with a look at Miami and some of the economic conditions that exist in and around the city. Miami is one of (if not the) poorest city in the USA. One solution the city authorities had to this was to build ‘affordable’ track housing. They worked out the costs to suit families earning $50,000 to $80,000 a year in an area where most people are earning around $10,000 to $15,000. Much of the land these homes are built on contains toxic substances.

It also has a look at the situation of workers that are affected by the decisions made at the summit. In Immokalee, 115 miles south of Miami there are immigrant South American workers who have to pick 2 tons of tomatoes to make 50 dollars. The local focus of the film is one of its stronger elements as a lot of documentaries of this sort tend to focus on the international issues to the detriment of local ones.

At the end the film returns to Overtown – one of the poorest areas in the city. A host of industries that didn’t clean up after they left and an expressway built directly through it devastated the area. Marvin Dunn, leader of the Overtown Community Garden project addresses a crowd of activists by saying that they ‘haven’t had so many white folks in Overtown since the clan rode through in ’31.’ In an attempt to reclaim some local space the community groups teamed up with the activists in order to build a community garden – without asking permission. The activists held a workshop on permaculture. They now have crops that they can harvest for the community. Inspiring stuff – and activists and community groups working together is a story that isn’t told often enough. A UK example is the Liverpool dockers being joined by groups such as Reclaim the Streets and despite being initially sceptical they were eventually extremely grateful for the help.

Police operations obviously do not begin on the day of the summit. In the run up to the conference three to four thousand homeless people were forcibly removed from the areas where they slept rough so as not to offend the eyes of the delegates as they arrived, Laws to stop more than 7 people gathering without a permit were passed and activists or even suspected activists were arrested ‘pre-emptively’ before the summit.

The US local and national media had also clearly marked which side of the ‘debate’ they would be on by embedding themselves with the police but not the protestors (24 journalists each day). The Miami Herald had put itself on the welcoming committee for the summit and is alleged to have given the summit $217,000 in free advertising and $67,000 in donations. This is doubly suspicious as the FTAA agreement removed certain media consolidation laws that these companies may have had interest in.

Policing at this summit was considerably more brutal than what was experienced at Gleneagles. One woman, walking away from the police lines with her back turned is shot in the leg with what I assume is a plastic bullet. Bizarrely, this woman was wearing a business suit and said she only came out to join the protests because the police had the put the ‘fear of god’ about the protestors into the business community but all she could see was police totalitarianism. This was not the only allegation of people being shot in the back at these protests http://ftaaimc.org/en/2003/11/1997.shtml .

Tear gas, Tazers and many more weapons were used by the police. A Democracy Now journalist was pepper sprayed. One stunning section of the film is the eyewitness accounts from locals of the poor Overtown area saying that the police encouraged them to beat up and rob protestors and told them the sort of people to look out for. They were supposedly told that they would not be prosecuted for doing so.

Some of this behaviour might concern the authorities you would think? Wrong.

“I think we have a model here for the rest of the world to really emulate for the future when they have these sort of events take place”

Kathy Fernandez Rundle – Miami State Attorney

Some police tactics that were used in Scotland are visible in this film. For example, police saying that protestors can’t go to a certain area because the police themselves are not sure what is going on. One policeman admitted it’s a frustration tactic. Presumably it failed in Miami as it did here.

There is footage of prisoner solidarity demonstrations held after the meetings. Protestors are given three minutes to disperse. Some did, some didn’t. The people that remained were told they had another two minutes. They did disperse, but were attacked by police within one minute with pepper spray and batons. Minus the pepper spray this is not far off from some of the scenes in Edinburgh.

The FTAA left Miami and by the time they were gone there had been 283 arrests which resulted in no convictions. Furthermore, Miami Activist Defence and the National Lawyers Guild filed a federal lawsuit against the city, the mayor, police chief Timoney, Homeland Defence Secretary Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft for ‘rampant abuse of the constitution.’

Police forces, backed with new anti-terror laws are being given the green light to treat activists, protestors and demonstrators as if they are terrorists. Blair said he could ‘not rule out’ anti-terror laws being used by the police against protestors. It is vital that the line between peaceful protest and murderous attack is not blurred in such a manner that allows governments to stamp out all dissent.

The Miami Model can be downloaded for free here http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/05/1680772.php

or a high quality copy can be ordered at

http://www.mountaineyemedia.org/buymm.html