Musician and activist Bob Geldof is lending his expertise -- if not his vote -- to Britain's opposition Conservative Party as adviser to a working group on global poverty, new party leader David Cameron said. Cameron, who won the Conservative leadership with a promise to broaden the party's appeal, sought Geldof's assistance in developing policy.
Geldof's participation comes despite his friendship with Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair and a history of antagonism with former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The two clashed in the 1980s when her government initially refused to waive a tax levied on the Band Aid charity single -- recorded to raise money for African famine relief. The government eventually backed down.
Geldof organized the 1985 Live Aid concerts and last summer's Live 8 shows, staged to pressure leaders of the G-8 group of wealthy nations to act against poverty when they met for a July summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
"I don't care who I have to get to, to make this agenda work," Geldof said. "They must know that I am in no one's pocket, that I am not beholden to anyone.".
The international aid agency ActionAid said the Conservatives must prove their commitment to development after cutting Britain's aid budget when last in office. "The last Conservative government slashed aid as a percentage of national income by more than half and were at the forefront of globally promoting a damaging free trade, one-size-fits-all, privatized model of development that poor countries are still paying for today," said Steve Tibbett, policy chief at ActionAid.
Britain's Department for International Development confirmed that aid as a proportion of the national income fell under the Conservative government from 0.51 percent in 1979 to 0.26 percent in 1997, when Labour took office. The 2005 figure is 0.4 percent.