Thursday, August 09, 2007

A useful website

By and large I tend to be easygoing about media appearances. If they ask and I have time I do it, if I have no time or it is inconvenient, I do not. Similarly, I spend little time worrying about how the programme may have gone, having learnt a long time ago that nobody every remembers what they heard on radio or seen on TV (or their internet provider) even if they react to a face they recognize. That, I fear, is life. All one can hope for is that one or two points one has made were picked up by somebody somewhere.

Recently, though, I came out of a 30 minute discussion about Gordon Brown's foreign policy demanding the return of the previous hour of my life. A discussion of foreign policy with people whose ideas were culled almost exclusively from headlines is not my idea of fun or of usefulness.

I do recall starting a sentence - mostly to prevent one of my co-panellists from rabbiting on about global warming and policies needed to ... well, I am not sure to do what - with the words: "If Gordon Brown were to ask me for advice on foreign aid .... ". I reckon I was pretty safe on that.

As it happens, I was going to suggest that he stopped talking to rock stars and NGOs like Oxfam who have a vested interest in not changing the situation too much or, even, at all but set up meetings with African analysts, writers, and economists. I can give him e-mail addresses if he wants some.

Except that I do not have to. Because the International Policy Network (IPN) has set up and extremely useful website, called Critical Opinion, which is full of the most useful and interesting articles on subjects such as trade and aid, environment and health. None of them seem to have much time for NGOs and, I suspect, that means that our tranzi-loving Prime Minister will not read them. Nor will he ask me for advice.

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