Geldof deflects criticisms over new Tory role

 

Bob Geldof today insisted he was not taking sides as he agreed to join a Conservative policy group on global poverty.

New Tory leader David Cameron has persuaded the campaigner and musician to act as a consultant to his Globalisation and Global Poverty group.

Geldof acknowledged he was probably being "used" by the party. But he insisted he was "in no-one's pocket" and would speak out if the Conservatives came up with a policy he disagreed with. He said he would still work with Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn.

"I am not giving tacit approval." Geldof told Sky News. "What I am trying to do is agreeing to help formulate a policy that I would agree with."

I've said I'll shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to where we need to be
Bob Geldof

He added: "Narrow definitions of what politics are do not interest me. I am not party political. I am completely non-partisan, as are those dying of want. It doesn't concern me what people think about me."

Geldof, who was behind this year's Live 8 concerts, said he would argue his point in the Conservative group and make clear if he disagreed with the eventual policy that resulted.

"If they then formulate a policy that is in disagreement with what I believe, I will then say that and I will say it publicly," he said. "They must know that I am in no-one's pocket, that I am not beholden to anyone."

Geldof said he had worked with politicians of all colours for 20 years. "I don't care who I have to talk to, to get to where we need to be to stop people dying simply because they are too poor to stay alive," he said. Asked if he was being used to help Conservatives to reach out to new supporters, he said:

"I'm sure I am being used, as much as I'm being used by the Government. But that's my job, to be used, so long as I can help steer the policy towards those who are dying. It doesn't bother me that people say I am being used.

"I've said I'll shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to where we need to be."

Geldof was a central figure in the Make Poverty History campaign in the lead up to the G8 summit of world leaders in Gleneagles earlier this year.

Mr Blair made tackling Africa's problems a key issue of the talks and aid agencies were critical of Geldof's close involvement.

Persuading him to work with the new Conservative group is another coup for Mr Cameron as he seeks to prove his party has changed and modernised. Mr Cameron has already signed up maverick environmentalist Zac Goldsmith as joint chair of the group formulating green policies.

With the new group he is moving on to issues the Prime Minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown have loudly championed in the past.

It shows that Geldof has also moved on after clashing with former Conservative Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher in the 1980s over the VAT charge levied on the Band Aid single. She later agreed to waive the charge.