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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Steel fears for Geldof 'ego trip'
Bob Geldof with Commission for Africa report
Bob Geldof says pressure must be put on rich nations
Bob Geldof's latest stunts are in danger of turning his anti-poverty campaign into an ego trip, says former Liberal leader David Steel.

Lord Steel said some of Geldof's "populist antics" risked destroying his well-deserved reputation for raising awareness of Africa's plight.

And inviting the Pope, Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela to be involved had "slight touches of megalomania".

Geldof says all his ideas are designed to raise the heat on G8 leaders.


The Live 8 concert is linked to Geldof's calls for demonstrations in Edinburgh and for a Sail 8 flotilla of boats to cross the English Channel.

The protests are aimed at showing leaders at the G8 summit in Gleneagles the strength of public feeling on helping Africa.

But Lord Steel, former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, said: "It is in danger of being a media circus for him [Geldof]."

If he sticks to the message and cuts out the histrionics he would get on a lot better
Lord Steel

He branded the Boomtown Rats singer's call for one million people to gather in Edinburgh as "slightly crackers".

A similar amount might gather in the city for the Edinburgh Festival but this was spread over three weeks, he argued.

He also criticised Geldof for implying he was somehow in a position to invite the Pope, Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela to be involved in Live 8 through video link.

The flotilla idea was also "odd".

Bad example?

The antics were counter-productive, suggested Lord Steel, who said he had attended three recent meetings with Geldof and backed his message on aid to Africa.

"If he sticks to the message and cuts out the histrionics he would get on a lot better," he said.

Lord Steel also suggested Geldof was an icon to the younger generation who should take greater care over his public appearances.

In an letter to the Times newspaper, he said: "Deliberately peppering his utterances with swear words and appearing in public carefully dishevelled is not setting a good example of behaviour."

Raising the heat

A spokeswoman for Geldof admitted the rock star's hair was mess but stressed he was always well turned out in a dapper suit.

She denied the campaign plans were a diversion from the core message - she argued they helped to raise its public profile.

She said nothing was confirmed - "not a no, not a yes" - from the Pope, Mr Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

Geldof recently defended his Edinburgh protest call at the Hay Literature Festival, saying: "I will not accept any more people dying on my TV in my sitting room every night...

"If we can get the domestic heat to such a level in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US, it's just possible that we can reach down the ladder and say to those dudes (the African people) 'Let's give you a hand up.

"I'm going to do it - I need you to be with me."


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