A Nightingale Sang (in Dulles Airport)
Just arrived in Washington to meet with Save the Children colleagues as we plan the next steps in our biggest campaign ever. First time I’ve been here since this became Obamatown. I am determined to notice the difference – the blossom must surely be pinker, or the air a little fresher, or something. Bizarrely, in the hour-long queue for immigration at the airport I am sure I hear the recorded sound of birds singing. That’s one giant leap for the twitter generation.
On landing I got news from London that we have successfully launched our Global Children’s Charter today. Very excited about that. It’s drawn from statements made by hundreds of children, which were whittled down to twelve demands by our panel of children and young people from eight countries, which we delivered to Gordon Brown as G20 chair this morning. Children often put things differently. How about this on the food crisis: “People in the West are dying of obesity and people in developing countries are dying from starvation. Can we not strike a balance?” And this: “Treatment for HIV/Aids should be freely available for every child who needs it. We can’t just let them die.” Good point, well made.
Had to deal with a little problem before leaving home this morning. This Saturday it’s the big ‘Put People First‘ G20 rally in London’s Hyde Park and we’ll be there – hopefully with a big turnout for what promises to be a peaceful and family friendly event with a strong message to the G20 leaders. But Save the Children’s name has been incorrectly associated with another event under the catchy banner: “Can we make capitalism history? Yes we Can!” (Short of new slogan? Stitch a couple of old ones together!) Anyway, it’s a different event on a different day in a different place run by an entirely different bunch of people and is nothing to do with us. (Did I leave any ambiguity there?!) Nevertheless the Telegraph don’t check their facts before running a story that Save the Children and others are part of it and we have to do some quick work to make sure people know we’re not.
I’m passionate about the right of people to protest peacefully (Save the Children’s founder got into some trouble ninety years ago when she handed out leaflets in Trafalgar Square and was fined £5, which would have got you a lot of leaflets back then). We also know there’s plenty of questions to be asked about how the global economic order works against the poorest and needs to be dramatically reformed if it is to meet the challenge of fixing a broken world economy, saving the planet and consigning poverty to the history books. Geoff Mulgan from the Young Foundation was good on this on the radio this morning. But I’m not sure a long university seminar about the overthrow of capitalism offers much hope or help to the 30,000 families who will go to bed tonight having lost a child because of the grinding poverty that has deprived them of the basic medicines, clean water and decent food that half the world takes for granted. The solution to that is a) resources and b) political will. Two things our campaign is determined to deliver…