Alex Nunns. At 1600 BST the news went round the Independent Media Centre in Edinburgh that Bob Geldof was in town. Within minutes a rapid reaction force of independent journalists and activists were dispatched to Edinburgh station, where the has-been rock star had arrived aboard a Make Poverty History Virgin train along with Hollywood's Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Our mission was to disrupt Geldof's press conference, armed only with an Indymedia banner and some tough questions.
We ran through the streets, trying to contact the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army on the way to get them to come and do their thing. Unfortunately, the train station is on the other side of the city from the IMC, and by the time we got there Geldof had moved on. If only activists could afford taxis...
But all was not lost. A press representative of Virgin trains naively (or so we thought) told us that Geldof was en route to the City Chambers. Off we ran, only to find nobody there except a couple of Reuters cameramen and two people dressed as mummies.
It's a shame we didn't get to ask Sir Bob why he has sidelined African social movements like Jubilee South and Third World Network in his campaign, or why he is using his control of MPH's publicity to dilute the coalition's demands to the extent that they become indistinguishable from the policies of the UK Government. It's a shame that the clowns weren't able to embarass Geldof, especially since he had called Monday's 'Carnival for Full Enjoyment' protesters a 'bunch of losers' and 'idiots who think they are going to create world revolution by standing on top of park benches and hitting policemen'. 'I think the police handled it very well', Geldof insisted, 'and I think there were scuffles
which is just people rubbing against each other in the wrong way'.
Meanwhile, Midge Ure, the other intellectual giant of the development movement, called for protesters to go home. Having apparently missed George Bush's ITV interview a few days earlier, the 'musician' said: 'This carnival is just daft, because we are already getting movement from the G8 group on these issues. Anyone who wants to cause trouble on the streets should go home'.
This is a further attempt to divide good protesters from bad, a clear strategy of the MPH publicists, which has had the effect of legitimising police brutality against anyone who acts outside of sanitized MPH events. And all the time the MPH PR machine continues to tone down its demands as the prospect of failure looms larger.