Beyond Reach? John Madeley (Longstone Books, 2009, £9.99)

Posted: 18 September 2009

After some 30 years of writing factual books and newspaper articles on development and poverty issues, journalist, author and broadcaster John Madeley switches to a novel to tell the story of the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign.

Madeley covered the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005, was present at most of the national Make Poverty History events, and also involved inlocal campaigning. The book is an eye-witness account of the campaign, as seen at both national and local level.

The book's fact-cum-fiction plot tells a witty story of how a feisty young married woman inspires a church minister, known for hisinappropriate choice of women, to join the campaign. The result is an explosive mix that takes them into a world that neither bargained for.

The author draws on the work of aid agencies to exposé government duplicity, how the huge claims made by Government about aid and debt relief were far from all they seemed. There were strings attached that made a mockery of the statement by G8 leaders in Gleneagles thatdeveloping countries could decide their own development paths.

To qualify for debt relief, developing countries had to eliminate impediments to private investment - they had to open up markets toforeign companies. The water companies could barely wait. Furthermore the aid increase then announced included money for debt relief - therewas huge double counting. Four years later, only 20 per cent of developing country debt has been wiped out.

And while claiming to have heard the pleas of campaigners for trade justice, Government ministers continued to push free trade and thederegulation of business - the very opposite of what Make Poverty History was all about. And Government was woefully slow to recognisethe link between climate change and poverty.

"After years of banging on about development in factual books", says Madeley, "I felt the need to explore an alternative way of getting the message across, one that could reach people who have not so far been involved in campaigning to end poverty. Putting the issue of the poverty and development into a novel might, I hope, help to step up the demand for policies to end poverty".

Beyond Reach? will be launched on October 17, 2009 to coincide with the UN's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Royalties from the sale of the book go to agencies who are working to end poverty.

See more about John Madeley at www.johnmadeley.co.uk