Live8: making a ‘difference’

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, July 5th, 2005
12:08 pm and is filed
under Consume!.

Live 8 and the 2003 anti-war rallyI saw this aerial shot of the Live8 concert in Hyde Park last Saturday and it got me a-thinking.

I poked around for an aerial shot of the rally following the protest march against the Iraq war from 15 Feb 2003. The best one I could find was here.

Smaller versions of both pictures appear to your right. If you take a look at the lower-left of the Live8 picture, you’ll see a distinctive intersection. That same intersection appears in the middle-right of the protest picture.

In the Live8 picture, the north-eastern corner of Hyde Park provides a second reference point and provision of scale.

In the picture of the anti-war rally, the second reference point and provision of scale comes via the two pathways converging at another intersection at the edge of the lake.

I used these reference points to take these two shots and map them out on top of an aerial photo of Hyde Park. There is some overlap of structures, but it’s the crowds we’re interested in.

Live 8 compared to the 2003 anti-war rallyThe crowd numbers at Live8 were pretty much static, and estimated to be around the 250,000 mark.

Estimates for crowd numbers for protest march in London on Feb 2005 range from 750,000 to 1.5 million, but not everyone who went on the march stayed for the rally (many went home or staged further protests in central London and at the US Embassy). At the rally itself, speeches began at around 2pm and continued well past 4, and the crowd began to dwindle significantly after 4pm, but I think it’s fair to assume that this photo was taken sometime during this two-hour period.

When mapped out for visual comparison, the anti-war crowd appears to outnumber the pop-concert crowd by 3-2.

In other words, 375,000 to 250,000.

One crowd came to see U2, Madonna, REM, Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Maria Carey, Pink Floyd, Sting, Dido, Coldplay… and Ms. Dynamite.

The other came to protest and stayed to see Charles Kennedy, Tony Benn, Mo Mowlam, George Galloway, Harold Pinter, Ken Livingstone… and Ms. Dynamite.

The result of the latter gathering beyond lip-service? Sweet bugger all.

Chances of Geldof getting a million people off their arses and into Edinburgh and having this ‘historic mandate’ make any kind of difference beyond yet more lip-service? Sweet. Bugger. All.

UPDATE – Steve Punt – 20 years ago, I just wanted a loo break: There is one other big difference. In 1985 Thatcherism was in its pomp. Live Aid felt subversive – the young had taken matters in their own hands, and the government were wrong-footed. In 2005, we all know Blair and Brown, would like to make a gesture to Africa. We also know that more than a million people went to Hyde Park two years ago to say No to invading Iraq, and Blair took no notice whatsoever. And if George Bush can ignore global warming, he can ignore Keane, Robbie Williams and bloody Dido.


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