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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005
    Pic of the Year, probably

    It may be a bit early for 'year-end' stuff but a programme last night on the events surrounding the G8 Summit in July brought this sorry image back to my mind. And I suspect that it will, regretfully, end up being my Pic of the Year. Because it demonstrates just how fully the self-promoting pop icons of popular protest against G8 policies were assimilated into the politicians' agenda, thus invalidating themselves and putting the whole movement at risk.

    In her essential analysis of the Make Poverty History events, Virginia Rodino reminds us that 'While Bono and Geldolf spoke from on high about saving the Africans, the rock stars took no action to pressure the UK government to let across the African protesters who were being denied entry into the country and denied participation in the events at which they had been invited to speak.' The London gig they organised took people, and media attention, away from the Edinburgh rally and further undermined the Make Poverty History cause.

    However, the thousands who went to Edinburgh (and hundreds who stayed for Gleneagles), got on very well without the discredited musicians. Rodino notes that the July protests saw the development of an important fusion of the anti-war movement with the global justice movement:

    'Importantly, the message of "Fight Poverty, Not War" was stamped throughout the huge Make Poverty History demonstration critically inserting the obvious and necessary linkage between war and poverty a linkage many in Blair's government were trying to ignore. Thus, although Make Poverty History organizers were not confident enough or willing to draw out the connection, the British anti-war movement succeeded in proving that the hundreds of thousands marching against poverty were also marching against war and the system that creates both.'

    These movements no longer look to sell-out rock stars for leadership, but the groundswell of early summer and the growing cooperation between anti-war and global justice protesters means that the struggle alongside the poorest will go on, and it'll be fascinating to see what further turns it takes in 2006.

    [CAAT Call the Shots campaign actions this Saturday]