Stuart Hodkinson. Last night's 'Make the G8 History' rally in London sponsored by War on Want and Red Pepper certainly had its moments. Journalist Victoria Brittain reminded over 300 people in the packed LSE venue "how many times we've been here before" and that the G8 plans for Africa were just the same old "colonialism". Author and '68 veteran, Tariq Ali, said we should all be worried by a recent picture in the Financial Times showing a smiling Gordon Brown and Bob Geldof with "love in their eyes". But it was journalist George Monbiot who took the plaudits when he declared:
I will be going up to Edinburgh not to march in favour of the G8, but to protest against it. And to protest against Geldof and Bono as well.
His was an enjoyable tirade against how the celebrities have allowed New Labour and the G8 to co-opt the Make Poverty History campaign, and he paid tribute to Red Pepper's G8 special issue that exposed this co-optation to the full. Monbiot revealed that he was no longer wearing the campaign's white wristband and was instead joining Paul Kingsnorth's 'Make Richard Curtis History' campaign, which involves heading to Curtis's mansion, drowning him in his large swimming pool and then giving all his money to Mali.
On the substantive issue of the G8's plans for Africa, former WDM Director and historian of British foreign policy, Mark Curtis, mocked the mainstream media for "portraying Tony and Gordon as the saviours of Africa" and instead provided compelling evidence that New Labour's plan for Africa was about further opening up the continent's rich natural resources of oil, gold and diamonds to Western capitalism. Debt relief and aid would come with the same conditionality of the last two decades, and the UK government was a leading force behind such policies. Gordon Brown's "new Marshall Plan for Africa" was not about developing Africa but "removing all restrictions for corporations to operate and profit there".
War on Want's Nick Dearden implored the audience to head en masse to Edinburgh and Gleneagles. This would be "Glastonbury with a purpose", he said. He urged people to take part in (and radicalise!) the 2 July demonstration, the counter-summits, direct actions, protests, cultural events, and above all, to protest against the illegitimate and undemocratic gathering of G8 leaders: "these modern day monarchs drawing lines on maps which decide the fate of millions of people who never elected them". SH