Sir Bob’s pet cause is arrogant and wrong

Published by The Sun (18th November, 2014)

Sometimes, even for secular saints, the truth is uncomfortable – as Sir Bob has discovered yesterday when cut off on television for swearing in response to my criticism of Band Aid’s latest outing.

I do not disparage his motives. Band Aid was originally a response to scenes of hideous starvation. Sadly it backfired.

The patronising lyrics implied nothing ever grows in Africa and asking if a continent filled with Christians knew Christmas.

And there was an arrogant failure to include African artists on a song and subsequent concerts supposed to save their continent.

Then the flood of relief efforts in Ethiopia mistakenly aided a murderous Marxist regime. It showed the flaws in an aid industry it inspired, with the idea Westerners can chuck mountains of cash at complex political situations and solve underlying problems.

Songs, stars and slogans do not save the world, however well-intended, and concerts do not end poverty.

The song also promoted the idea Africa is a pathetic place in need of our salvation – a corrosive image that deters trade and tourism.

It also hurts Africans.So little has been learned from these mistakes.

I covered the ebola epidemic in Liberia and saw amazing efforts made by local people and a tiny handful of Western charities. Now Bob is pretending he and his pals can save the day with a comparative pittance. The government has pledged £230m already.

The sums you give would be small change for the likes of Bob and Bono, who urge everyone else to hand over cash to their pet cause.

Band Aid 30 ignores the voices of Africans again, its lyrics are trite and its logo implies ebola struck the entire continent. It is outdated, patronising and perpetuating false myths. If that’s what you want, buy it.


Most recent articles

How the Tories are helping Ukip

Published by The Independent (17th November, 2014) First Clacton, now Rochester – the unlikely landmarks of British political history as Ukip takes one more step on to Tory terrain with another expected by-election victory this week. Will historians of the future trace the schism on the right, devastation of the Conservative Party and destruction of traditional […]

Is ‘Gucci Grace’ about to become the world’s first female dictator?

Published by The Mail on Sunday (16th November, 2014) Grace Mugabe has been called many things since the moment when, barely out of her teens, she caught the eye of the president of Zimbabwe as she tapped away in his typing pool. Now his wife, she styles herself ‘Amai’ (mother) for her supporters but, behind […]

Should Band Aid be resurrected?

Published by The Observer (16th November, 2014) The Observer debate with Tim Ingham (Editor, Music Week) IB: Absolutely not. The only good thing is to learn the toe-curling lyrics of that patronising song are being rewritten. Not just because Ethiopia has a longer tradition of Christianity than the British Isles, but all those awful lines about […]

Sorry Bob – Band Aid has done more harm than good

Published by The Daily Mail (12th November, 2014) Once again, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure have lined up the latest crop of chart-toppers to create another incarnation — the fourth — of the bestselling Band Aid charity single. This time round, it is to raise funds to fight the ebola crisis that broke out nearly […]

Miliband has failed to follow the first rule of opposition

Published by The Independent (10th November, 2014) There is a certain choreography parties perform when a leader is in trouble. First they deny any divisions even as rumbling concerns erupt into open contempt. Then they reshuffle the inner circle in a way that only inflames internal tensions. Loyalists are sent out to tour broadcasting studios blaming […]

The aid industry endorses human rights abuses, fuels corruption and missed the Ebola crisis

Published by The Independent (3rd November, 2014) First came a report revealing terrible human rights abuses from a repressive regime backed by huge sums of British aid. A young girl spoke of having hot coals poured on her belly because her father was suspected of opposing the government; a teacher told of being stabbed in […]

Fascists, felons and fanatical fools: ugly truth about Farage’s friends in Brussels

Published by The Mail on Sunday (2nd November, 2014) Eleonora Bechis does not hold Nigel Farage in high regard. She calls him ‘a misogynist, homophobe and xenophobe,’ adding that he thinks ‘like a financial speculator’ who has adopted the ideas of the far-Right. ‘His only gift is that he is a great speaker, full of hot […]

Britain’s refusal to save migrants is an act of inhumanity

Published by The Guardian (29th October 2014) Last year a wealthy couple called Regina and Christopher Catrambone were cruising the Mediterranean when they saw a jacket float past their yacht. The captain said the owner was probably dead, one of thousands of desperate people who drown each year as they seek a decent life in […]

Our shameful response to the ebola crisis

Published by The Independent (20th October, 2014) I relaxed again this weekend. It was 21 days since I returned from Liberia to report on the human tragedy of the Ebola epidemic, so the incubation period was over; no longer would I wake up wondering if that slight sore throat might be the start of something […]

They brainwashed our boys and made them watch beheading videos

Published by The Mail on Sunday (11th October, 2014) Hamid’s son had been missing for a week, seized by Islamic State gunmen along with 148 other schoolchildren, when a friend discovered the fanatics had posted a contact number for distraught parents on the internet. He called the number and a militant put the terrified 13-year-old […]

An earthquake called Ukip hits Britain

Published by The Wall Street Journal (17th October, 2014) It is curious to think that the modest seaside resort of Clacton might end up a landmark in British history. Yet future historians may one day trace the effective end of Britain’s two-party system—and conceivably even of the Conservative Party—to this fading place of few pretensions […]

Ched Evans has been punished. Let him return to his job

Published by The Guardian (17th October, 2014) Let us start with the most important fact. Ched Evans is a rapist, a footballer found guilty of predatory assault on a drunken teenager dazzled by his fame and wealth. Forget for now the well-financed campaign to clear his name, the offensive statements from his family that he remains […]

Britain needs a party that proudly champions cosmopolitan values

Published by The Financial Times (17th October, 2014) These are strange times. An insurgent political party has won a single parliamentary by-election plus the support of fewer than one in five British voters – yet it seems to be almost running the country such is the fear it has created among opponents. It may soon […]

Another first-class delivery

Published by The Daily Mail (10th October, 2014) Please, Mr Postman by Alan Johnson (Bantam) One day in June 1969, a young couple from London took the train to Slough where they had been offered a council house. Seeing two policemen, they asked if they could direct them to the Britwell estate. ‘We should do, we […]

We’re heading for a crisis whoever wins the election

Published by The Independent (6th October, 2014) There is something absurd about the Liberal Democrat conference, with all those attacks on their partners in government over the past four years. Such are the desperate tactics of a party crushed by coalition, one that has lost sight of its crucial historic purpose as it flails around for […]

A lethal epidemic and a lethargic global response

Published by The Independent (4th October, 2014) Augustin was agitated and scared. After weeks spent hiding in his house with his wife and children, he had left the safety of its confines to take his aunt to a new Ebola clinic for testing. This poor woman had already lost two daughters, one son-in-law and two […]

A Conservative split may be the catharsis the party needs

Published by The Guardian (1st October, 2014) The room was packed in anticipation of good debate. But from the start of the Conservative conference fringe event on immigration there was an air of unpleasant hostility from a group of older people – as I suggested the Tory party needed to adapt to the modern world, […]

Bonfire of the ebola victims

Published by The Mail on Sunday (28th September, 2014) As I walked into the walled Hindu-style cremation site outside Monrovia alongside the latest consignment of bodies, I saw a smouldering pile of ashes with smoke rising from it. Scattered among the flickering flames were clearly visible human bones: femurs, hip joints and even the odd […]

Obesity: Africa’s new crisis

Published by The Observer Magazine (21st September, 2014) When the first McDonald’s restaurant opened almost two decades ago in Johannesburg, a teenage boy named Thando Tshabalala was among the thousands who stood in line patiently waiting to try one of those famous burgers. “We had seen this place in every movie we ever watched, and […]

The deepening dilemma over hostages

Published by The Independent (September 15th, 2014) The fact that it was almost expected does not make it any less hideous. David Haines, a good man who went to Syria to help deliver aid to people whose lives had been wrecked by war, was dressed in the all-too-familiar orange garb of Guantanamo and murdered in the […]


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: