No honestly... well kind of...
This afternoon Bob Geldof, Gordon Brown, Benjamin Mkapa (former president of Tanzania), Susan George (political economist) and David Golding (Make Poverty History North East Co-ordinator and all round local legend) received honourary degrees from Newcastle Uni. It was a grand affair, but they let me in nevertheless.
The interaction between Geldof and Brown was quite interesting. They clearly get on very well. Gordon Brown made a speech (including three Bible references) and I have to say I was quite impressed.
After the presentation Brown left and the others along with Chris Patten formed a discussion panel. Some of the points in the discussion were really interesting, in particular:
- the importance of educating women in eradicating poverty
- the irrelevance of post-war institutions (UN, World Bank etc)
- the increasing influence that China (as a new superpower) is having over Africa
- there was also a discussion about whether or not aid should be linked to transparency and accountability. Geldof made the interesting point that in every country there is corruption (Watergate, cash for questions/peerages, Berlusconi) but that in poor countries this is more visible/controversial because it's a higher proportion of GDP.
As a final note there was an article in the Metro today highlighting that Britain has already emited more CO2 this year (per capita) than most developing countries will all year.