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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Boulton brilliance

I thought it was worth copying this GEM of a piece of journalism from SKY’s Adam Boulton (written in last week’s Sunday Mirror) because it really is quite special.

Talking about Africa and the need to elimimate poverty across the continent, Boulton says that certain nations – specifically Germany and Japan – should be doing more to honour their G8 Summit pledges to commit more money to Africa aid. Fair enough.

However, he then goes on to address the sticky problem of African political corruption – something which even the most naïve of political observers would have to concede is at least partially responsible for many of the problems suffered by African nations. With the best will in the world, it simply isn’t always sensible to throw millions of pounds worth of charity at corrupt administrations, even if their citizens are desperate, sick and poor. And even if you (not unfairly) believe that the needs of stricken people are great enough to do precisely that, it can’t be said to be the fault of the aid-giver if the money mysteriously fails to reach its needy intended recipients.

Unfortunately, in today’s bushnblairbaiting media world, it simply doesn’t do to suggest that every last one of the world’s problems might not be ENTIRELY the fault of the big, bad nasty Western democracies. (Even, apparently, if you work for SKY News. Make of that what you will).
In this article, Boulton genuinely appears to be suggesting that African governments have absolutely no obligation to behave in a democratically accountable, fair and legitimate fashion towards their electorate, because – steady yourself – why the hell should they when we don’t give them the money we promised them?
Well, quite. I mean, why should any government autonomously behave with moral and ethical integrity? That the Nigerian government - a full 12 years after the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa – continues to show contempt for human rights, moral decency and the structure of democratic rule…well, that’s not their fault. It’s ours.

Adam Boulton is the Political Editor of Sky News. He is 48.

‘For all the warm words and posturing at the UN Millennium Summit and the Gleneagles G8 meeting, rich nations such as Germany and Japan have not yet deigned to put their money where their mouths were.

The panel launch was in Germany because Angela Merkel is this year's G8 president.

At least Frau Merkel had the decency to look embarrassed as she claimed Germany still had time to make good on its pledges.

Bob Geldof thinks otherwise. He says we will miss the goal of eliminating world poverty unless payments are back on track by 2010. Scornfully, Geldof pointed out that Germany's failure to meet the UN aid target of 0.7 per cent of its gross national income came to £375million - the same amount raised by "a single British man, Richard Curtis" on Red Nose Day.

The deal in 2000 was that we'd give Africa the help - and in return they'd try to govern democratically. As this week's corrupt Nigerian elections showed, the Africans are struggling to deliver on their side of the bargain. But if we don't honour our pledges, why should they?’

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