Grumpy Edinburgh

I find it quite funny watching Edinburgh Council complaining about Bob Geldof and his plea for a million people to descend on the city for the G8 Summit.

1998 was the last time the G8 came to Britain and that time it was Birmingham hosting ‘the world’s most powerful men’. I was part of the team that organised the Jubilee 2000 Human Chain — in many ways the event that set the ball rolling for everything that’s happening now. It was great fun but I do feel for the Make Poverty History team who are organising the events this year. We had to jump through thousands of hoops and we didn’t have Bob Geldof winding up the council.

I had to help convince Birmingham council that we weren’t complete lunatics and that the event would pass off safely. One of my jobs was to design the route of the human chain so that it could safely accommodate all those we thought were coming (about 30,000). We had to walk the route again and again assessing and addressing any possible risk. In the end 70,000 people turned up and the event passed off completely peacefully and in a spirit of real celebration. The police chiefs had been adamant that we couldn’t join the chain across any roads but in the end the policemen on duty joined the chain for us.

Birmingham has had more positive PR from the event we organised in 1998 around the world than for almost anything else the council has ever done. And it cost them absolutely nothing. My advice to Edinburgh (and I think Birmingham council’s would be too) would be do absolutely everything you can to welcome and help Make Poverty History — but their public response so far isn’t looking good.

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