I ask Bono if he can understand why a lot of people, myself included, not to mention his drummer, found his perceived closeness to Blair and Bush hard to take? He sighs.

"I can understand that, for sure, but the results speak for themselves. I can take it on the nose from everybody, including my own band, but by the time he leaves the White House, George Bush will have trebled aid to Africa. We are into him for $50bn."

SOH So, is it part of the deal that you then don’t criticise him about anything else he has done – the war in Iraq, say, or Guantanamo? Morally, that’s quite a tricky trade-off.

Bono "No, it’s more that I don’t make a song and dance about my criticism. Everyone in the White House knows where I stood on the war. In the run up and when it was just about to happen, I had many conversations where I expressed my feelings. But I felt I had to focus on this one thing which was, don’t make a deal on extreme poverty. Make it truly colourless politically. It was the power of one clear idea. And it succeeded. And it was very, very difficult, and there was a lot of hand-holding, hours and hours, weeks and weeks, meeting after meeting after meeting, trying to get people not to play politics with the world’s poor. And for me to alienate people who, to be fair to them, were often sending their sons to Iraq I just felt, I don’t want to be shouting my mouth off about this war when really I have a chance, along with other people, of achieving for the first time broad political consensus on this one hugely important single issue of Africa and aid."

He reaches for his drink and shakes his head.

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