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The fallout

A friend tells me that London is rallying. From here, it is hard to gauge the mood. I hear ice-creams are being eaten in parks; shoppers are going about their shopping. Ken Livingstone has offered solace and resilience.

At Gleneagles, confusion reigns. In two of the few scheduled press conferences to take place, Mexico's Vicente Fox and France's Jacques Chirac talked of solidarity, of the leaders of the G8 and G5 (the richer developing nations) united against terror.

NGOs fear that the terror attacks in the British capital may indirectly deal the world's poor another duff hand in this round of globalised poker. Though all comments are qualified with doubt (the delegations have suspended briefing), the word is that the statement on trade will be minimal, even harmful to the global south as negotiations on subsidies are curtailed.

But it is impossible to say with any certainty what tomorrow's belated communiques will contain. Make Poverty History has ensured that the vocabulary will be different, the rhetoric more compassion than high economics. Its trade arm - the Trade Justice Movement - will meet tonight to draft responses should the statement on Africa merely call for a end to the stalemate at the WTO.

That said, the consensus born of solidarity with dead and injured Londoners could bear fruit. Chirac, though he wouldn't budge on the Common Agricultural Policy, said the seven vs one stand-off against the United States on climate change was close to resolution. Though Bush still won't touch the Kyoto Protocol with a dip-stick, Washington is said to be considering finding synergies in its own environmental policy that will align the world's biggest polluter more closely with Kyoto's basic principles. At last, it seems the cast-iron scientific evidence that the planet is warming will be acknowledged.

Yet another team of armed guards has just prowled past me. Tony Blair is back, though he will return to Westminster tomorrow to chair the Cobra cabinet security committee. Journalists are dribbling in and out of the media cavern. Two seasoned summit correspondents have told me, rather depressingly, that they are basically  waiting for the leaders to tell them what to write.

London is shaken. For hundreds, life will never be the same. But we must not lose sight of what is going on in the depths of Scotland. There is a danger - a danger as real to life and limb as today's bombs - that the security consensus among the G8's leaders will allow them once again to dictate terms to the south. Though it is not in this entity's power to act democratically, we might hope that it will temper its self-interest. If, in tomorrow's rhetoric, protecting the people of the west is conflated with furthering its economic power, the pain of this week will be felt far beyond Kings Cross.

July 7, 2005 | Permalink


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