News special: Make Poverty History - 'An opportunity to mobilisemillions'

Mary Cullen, chair of the Scottish Make Poverty History coalition, on the build-up to this weekend's rally.

The year 2005 was always going to be an extraordinary one for anti-poverty campaigners. A general election, a G8 summit in Scotland, UK presidency of the EU, the 10-year countdown to the UN date for halving world poverty, a crucial World Trade Organisation meeting - every one a potential target.

Together, they offered a unique opportunity to mobilise millions.

Fifteen months ago, churches, aid agencies, trade unions and others met to discuss joint action. A key player was film-maker Richard Curtis, of Comic Relief, whose proposals on the campaign slogan and white band were to define what followed.

Make Poverty History reaches millions of people who may know little about the complexities of international trade. It also engages seasoned campaigners who can articulate well-researched policy positions at the highest political level.

One of the first milestones was to hammer out a set of key demands on which everyone could unite. Another was to counter the danger of co-option by politicians. We had to point out that they didn't become members of the campaign by wearing a white band - they had to deliver policy change on aid, trade and debt.

Organisations have worked together as a coalition and separately with their own membership.

The G8 leaders need to know that millions of us want them to act now to end the scandal of poverty.

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