What is the point of Band Aid?
Then Iyad Allawi claims that there have been no civilian casualties in Fallujah. And US marines are filmed killing unarmed wounded men, which might as well be broadcast with a voice-over asking: "Have you ever considered a career in al-Qaeda? Dial this 0800 number and ask for Osama."
On top of all this, Band Aid is re-releasing "Do They Know It's Christmas?".
Yes, they know it's Christmas. If they didn't, it would be the biggest conspiracy in the world. Everyone visiting any part of Africa would be told at customs: "Whatever you do, don't mention Santa." Tinsel would have to be banned, carols would never be sung and the millions who are African Christians would be sitting around with censored copies of the Bible asking: "Does anyone know when Jesus was born?"
If the future of Africa lies with Will Young and Rachel Stevens, then Africa is fucked. If bands such as The Darkness want to help, then I suggest we drop the entire band, in full performance mode, into the centre of Darfur. The sight of high-pitched Spandex wearers appearing in front of them might just confuse, worry and frighten the Janjaweed militias long enough to delay their genocidal onslaught by a few hours.
And yes, dear reader, you are right, I am a begrudging, cynical bastard.
You would be right to say that some of Band Aid's musicians are politically astute and involved in the issues. Not many of them, mind you, though Damon Albarn has put his money where his mouth is on numerous occasions during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and Bob Geldof and Bono know more about debt and poverty in the developing world than most MPs (on reflection, this doesn't sound like the compliment I intended it to be . . . but you get the point). And, yes, the money raised from the single will help some people.
However, you would have to be very naive to believe that a single could change an entire continent's well-being. If it could, Nelson Mandela wouldn't have bothered with the armed struggle against apartheid - he would have spent his time practising "Stairway to Heaven" in his bedroom.
The trouble with Band Aid is that you can buy the single, believe you have done your bit, and walk away none the wiser as to the causes of and solutions to poverty in the developing world.
Indeed, one radio station has been inundated with listeners requesting that the station not play it; but the station still urges the public to go and buy it.
So, Band Aid II works entirely as a nostalgia charity product. It is the triumph of style and marketing over content - all in all, the perfect gift in the new Labour household.