Opinion: Hot Issue - Was it a good idea to re-record the Band Aid song to help Africa?

The new Do they know it's Christmas? was warmly received at first, and boosted by Gordon Brown's promise to repay the VAT. But the World Development Movement has since questioned the lyrics.

NO - Dave Timms, press officer, World Development Movement

The Band Aid single promotes a negative and inaccurate picture of Africa and its problems. Lyrics such as "no rain nor rivers flow" ignore the fact that Ethiopia is the source of the Nile. The song perpetuates the myth that Africa's problems can somehow be blamed on lack of rainfall and failed harvests. It conjures up an image of a continent inhabited by starving children with flies on their faces sitting in the sunbaked bed of a dried up stream.

African poverty is not an unfortunate accident of geography and climate.

It is largely the result of damaging free-trade policies imposed by rich countries as conditions for receiving aid and debt relief. This is not just any other pop song. The lyrics are important and will be heard in every home and shop in Britain over the next couple of months. They paint a misleading picture of Africa's problems and the reality of African lives.

Africans are not passive victims of circumstance, dependent on our handouts.

In fact, Africa gives us as much money in debt repayments as it receives in aid. Across the continent angry Africans are demanding trade justice, debt cancellation and the regulation of multinational companies.

YES - Patrick Nicholson, campaigns press officer, Cafod

Many of our lives changed 20 years ago when heartbreaking images of Ethiopians dying from hunger were broadcast. The 1984 famine and the response led by Bob Geldof spurred lots of us into fighting poverty.

The release of Band Aid 20 undoubtedly has a whiff of staleness. The terminal state of our pop culture aside, our understanding of Africa has moved on from lyrics like: "Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears." Geldof himself has been one of the most effective champions of the political causes of poverty on the continent rather than attributing famine to climate alone.

Yet it's churlish and depressingly worthy to slate Band Aid for not reflecting the latest in policy-wonkery. "Do they know it's the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs" just does not have the same ring. Besides, Geldof says that buying the single is a political statement and a way to kick-start the Make Poverty History campaign that calls on Tony Blair and other G8 leaders to help Africa by cancelling the debt and reforming trade laws.

Maybe it's a bit naff, maybe it's no longer 100 per cent 'PC', but if it fulfils its potential as a catalyst for a popular campaign on poverty in Africa, then I'm all for it.

YES - Helen Tennant, communications director, Battersea Dogs Home

Not only did the first Band Aid record raise millions for Africa, it also set a very public precedent for celebrities getting involved with charities or campaigns and raising awareness and money for them. As long as celebrities' actions don't have a detrimental effect on the charities they support, this high-profile support is a useful thing to most of us, who can only dream about the amount of publicity something like Band Aid generates.

Any awareness that can be raised for an issue is good, even if it is short-lived, and the new Band Aid single will raise loads of it. The single will attract the attention and support of a whole new generation, who are hopefully not as campaign-fatigued as those who bought the single first time around. It may well cement the new generation's support for third-world causes for life.

The original Band Aid was inspiration for a lot of charities' promotional work, and continues to be. The challenge is to make each record different enough to attract new audiences and give out new messages, which is what we believe we are doing with our own Christmas song. If Band Aid hadn't happened, Matthew Sweetapple may never have thought of releasing his song for us.

NO - Ceri Dingle, director, Worldwrite

It seems hard-nosed to dismiss any effort to raise funds for Africa, even if only a minute proportion of the funds raised ever reaches those who need them, but my objections are threefold. First, it promotes pity for the developing world rather than equality, and is more about making Westerners feel good about themselves than serious development aid for recipients.

Second, it's lazy and wholly reactionary - rich pop stars could privately fork out a fortune themselves for those in need, without subjecting us to a crap song, showing off about their concerns, while demanding more Western intervention in places like Darfur from the same people who are blowing up Iraqis.

Third, it's pathetic - why is so little demanded of those who have so much? While these stars preen around, they ask the world to be nice at Christmas by buying a record.

The vast majority in the developing world would like to enjoy the comforts of modernity, be they DVDs or cars, and many certainly don't give a damn about Christmas - isn't it time that this message was popularised?

Our peers, our friends in the developing world, deserve so much more and we should demand no less than the best for them.

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