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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 12:25 GMT
Geldof defends Tory adviser role
Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof has promised to remain politically "non-partisan" after agreeing to advise the Conservative Party on global poverty.

The singer, who had a key role in the Make Poverty History campaign, told BBC News 24: "I don't care who I have to go to to try to make this agenda work."

Mr Geldof said he had "never made any bones" about being non-partisan to Tony Blair, whom he has also advised.

He wanted to help shape any party's anti-poverty strategy, he added.

'Not a party member'

Tory leader David Cameron launched the Globalisation and Global Poverty group, to be chaired by former social security secretary Peter Lilley, this week.

Why on earth not? Geldof has proved beyond doubt that he is a non-partisan campaigner
James, London, UK

Mr Geldof told BBC News: "I'm not a Labour Party member; I'm not a Tory party member. I've no intention of becoming any of those things.

"I've done this for 20 years. I have an expertise. If I can be of benefit to help shape another party's policy towards this agenda, then I will do it."

Mr Geldof said he had spoken to Downing Street about the plan to advise Conservatives and officials had replied: "Absolutely, fair enough."

BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said although the non-partisan nature of Mr Geldof's involvement was being stressed, it was nevertheless "quite a coup" to get him involved.

Mr Cameron said the former Boomtown Rats frontman would help the party "go in the direction that he and we both want to go".

He added: "This summer, millions of British people took part in the Make Poverty History campaign.

"A new generation of concerned citizens want prosperity for themselves and progress for the poor, whether living on the other side of the street or the other side of the world."

Conservatives had a "vital contribution" to make to the debate about globalisation and poverty, he said.


Mr Lilley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mr Geldof had "enormous knowledge and expertise. He's been working on this area for 20 years.

"He knows more people, he's got access to more expertise than almost anybody else in the world and that's why I'm thrilled to have him as an advisor to the group".

But International Development Secretary Hilary Benn responded to the Conservatives' announcement by saying that "actions speak louder than words".

He added: "Britain has agreed to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on aid by 2013.

"This is an internationally agreed target and Labour is the first government in British history to commit to this."

Liberal Democrat international development spokesman Andrew George said: "Because of the heritage of the Conservative party they have got a lot to do to persuade others that they are no longer the party of greed and the producer interest."

He added: "People who are being dragged in to this review should be careful their reputation is not being used and possibly damaged for the future."

The poverty group is the third of six policy groups to be announced by Mr Cameron as he tries to position the party to attract more women and younger voters, added our correspondent.

Earlier this month he made environmentalist Zac Goldsmith joint chairman of a group set up to formulate green policies.

He has also made former party leader Iain Duncan Smith chairman of a policy unit looking at social justice.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Bob Geldof explains why he will help the Tory party



SEE ALSO:
Profile: Bob Geldof
28 Dec 05 |  UK
Geldof helps Tory poverty policy
28 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
Bob Geldof receives peace award
24 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Cameron outlines poverty mission
08 Nov 05 |  UK Politics
Geldof 'not too close' to leaders
12 Sep 05 |  UK Politics


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