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Tax Protest At U2 Glastonbury Set
The Quietus , June 25th, 2011 07:41

Scuffles with security, who foil balloon launch

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Protesters trying to sail a large balloon protesting at U2's tax avoidance tactics scuffled with security during the band's performance at the Glastonbury Festival last night. Activists from the pressure group Art Uncut were attempting to launch a balloon emblazoned with the slogan 'U Pay Your Tax 2' but were accosted by security guards. According to The Daily Mail one photographer was threatened by a security official, who said "go away. If you are press, I'll have you."

Festivalgoer Gary Noble said "It was all a bit shocking. I love U2 but I think everyone should pay their taxes. The campaigners have a right to voice their opinion." You can see pictures of the balloon here and watch footage at the BBC here. Speaking to the Guardian recently, Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis said that he could see the Festival becoming more radical. "I think it [the festival] could well become more political," he told the newspaper, "We've always been a sounding board for lots of unrest… If people are really faced with dire circumstances, that will get them angry and motivated, and that's the way we're heading at the moment."

U2 were targeted by Art Uncut for their decision to move their vast piles of Euros to the Netherlands from Ireland for tax purposes. "U2's multi million-euro tax dodge is depriving the Irish people at a time when they desperately need income to offset the Irish government's savage austerity programme," said protester Charlie Dewar. "Tax nestling in the band's bank account should be helping to keep open the hospitals, schools and libraries that are closing all over Ireland. Bono is well-known for his anti-poverty campaigning but Art Uncut is accusing him of hypocrisy." You can read a full blog post about why Art Uncut are protesting at U2's tax habits here, and Londoners might like to go to today's Bono Pay Up event at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town, which features music and talks from organisations including Christian Aid.

U2 played an epic set that included a cover of Coldplay's 'Yellow', using footage of recent protests in the Middle East to accompany 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', Bono singing 'Jerusalem' acapella, and a call from the International Space Station.

Pedro
Jun 25, 2011 3:00pm

Little rats run around claiming someone else's money doesn't belong to them. Ireland doesn't have a right to u2's money. You raise taxes too high on the rich and they're going to say enough is enough. Mother government gets a little too greedy with the folks that actually make the money...and they'll disappear. Good for u2. If they had any balls u2 and boner would start campaigning for the rights of the overtaxed. That would be a more noble cause than shaking down rich countries for money. Bono is a hypocrite for not taking up that cause, but certainly not for trying to avoid being overtaxed.

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o rly
Jun 25, 2011 5:26pm

reminder that the part of your money you owe in tax actually never belonged to you.

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BONER
Jun 25, 2011 5:34pm

In reply to o rly:

YES IT DID.

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Charles Bazlinton
Jun 25, 2011 7:19pm

Get radical book The Free
Lunch - Fairness with Freedom has it thought out see the-free-lunch.blogspot.com for lots of possibilities - fairer tax , basic income hidden
secrets of bankers...bend your mind straight if you dare .

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John
Jun 25, 2011 10:14pm

All well and good, but he is still a massive hypocrite

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city hobgoblin
Jun 26, 2011 9:19am

In reply to Pedro:

Could you explain to me how spending your time pontificating about how countries should spend more money on aid whilst simultaneously ensuring that your own country has less to spend on anything by dodging taxes doesn't make you a hypocrite?

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roxy
Jun 26, 2011 8:20pm

In reply to city hobgoblin:

city hobgoblin is bang on.if that pretentious clown bonio wants to minimise the amount of tax u2 pay then good luck to him.but please shut the fuck up about capitalist explotation.he is a national embarrassment to most irish people

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James Mac
Jun 27, 2011 10:28am

And were there any protests about Beyonce who accepted £6 million dollars to perform for the Gadaffi family but was let off the hook for that almost instantly?
It's topsy-turvy morals bordering on bullying to single out U2. I don't approve of what they're doing but they're hardly the first band to take advantage of a tax loophole and they're certainly not the first group of celebrities to thread a hypocritical line between benevolence/self-preservation.
Personally I think the so -called " Glasto spirit " is increasingly becoming a cover for sheeplike behaviour.
The festival itself is probably twice as much a sacred cow as Bono.

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Pedro
Jun 27, 2011 12:59pm

In reply to city hobgoblin:

Well because it's two different things. Your assumption is that giving money to the government, in this case Ireland, is the same as gving charitable aid. That is extremely debatable. Your assumption is also that he not paying taxes means he is not giving to his cause. I don't know if he is or not. I don't care about defending u2, but for that reason they are not hypocritical. In fact this quite possibly could mean that they actually give much more in charity.

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Tom
Jun 27, 2011 5:01pm

“There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can’t think of one at the moment.”

Paul Theroux

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Tom
Jun 27, 2011 5:12pm

In reply to Pedro:

Pedro, the hypocrisy and the pontificating is the point. No-one' saying he doesn't give money to charity or equating taxation with charitable donations. Your ability to read English seems to be as tenuous as your ability to write it.

By the way, corporate tax is 12.5% in Ireland. And tax on artists' royalties on the first 250 pounds is ZERO. So not high.

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Tom
Jun 27, 2011 5:14pm

In reply to Tom:

"the first £250,000" that should be...

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Pedro
Jun 27, 2011 7:00pm

In reply to Tom:

For someone making snide comments you have quite a problem with logical reasoning. Someone choosing to pay taxes elsewhere has nothing to do with them badgering others for contributions. Furthermore, quoting tax rates or money amounts is totally irrelevant to this discussion. However, I'm sure U2, reading your post, would have been upset that they hadn't consulted with you to get the educated conclusion of "so not high" prior to making their decision.

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Jun 28, 2011 7:10am

In reply to Pedro:

"I don't care about defending u2"

You seem to be doing a bloody good job of doing so.

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ABW
Jun 28, 2011 12:04pm

In reply to :

Pedro, Ireland currently have one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe. To say that U2 are overtaxed is disingenuous. And quoting tax rates is perfectly relevant to the discussion.

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Pedro
Jun 28, 2011 1:12pm

In reply to ABW:

No. Our discussion was never about why u2 was leaving, but about whether they were hypocrites for leaving. Therefore, quoting numbers is totally irrelevant. The reason u2 was leaving was off topic from what was being discussed. I speculated that had to do with why u2 was leaving, but really it's none of anybody's business why they did it except the members of the band, and totally irrelevant in a discussion about whether or not they're hypocrites for not paying taxes to Ireland while annoyingly pleading with western governments to give money to their causes.

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KV
Jun 28, 2011 2:38pm

OK, so they give their money to a festival awash in corporate sponsors (who all do real evil to the world), and they give their money to U2 so it can be kept from Ireland? Really, there are more valid targets for people who are concerned about the wealthy abusing their power than U2. It's just an opportunity for ignorant U2 haters to bitch about U2. It's not like they even rate on the list of rich people using their money to harm the world for gain, and U2 are not the cause or the solution to the economic woes of Ireland. Not that I believe the protesters or any Britons really care about that.

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KV
Jun 28, 2011 2:40pm

They live in Ireland so they probably pay taxes there, too. The pay taxes all over the world! Every country they make millions in gets a cut.

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city hobgoblin
Jun 28, 2011 4:19pm

The thing is, there is a big difference between paying taxes and giving to charity.

Tax rates are determined by democratically elected governments and the same governments decide how to spend the money. The rules are clear and transparent. No-one likes paying them, but doing so is the price of living in a society. If we don't approve of the rates of tax or the way the money is spent we all have an equal opportunity to change the government. No-one could seriously argue that Ireland is ungenerous in its rates of corporate tax, especially for 'artists'. You'd be hard pressed to get a democratic majority for making things even easier.

It is absolutely not ok for rich people to say that they, unlike the rest of us, can make their own decisions about how much tax to pay and where and that whatever they decide is ok because of the largesse they display in charitable donations.

Doing so would be bad enough, but when it is coupled with lecturing the rest of us on our responsibilities it's pretty obvious why some of us get pissed off.

The awful bombastic music doesn't help either.

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Pedro
Jun 28, 2011 5:32pm

In reply to city hobgoblin:

Well they are totally annoying. I totally agree. But its a separate issue. They are part of an international company. There's no reason for them not to want to pay elsewhere if they choose to do so.

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Steve Gibbons
Jun 29, 2011 12:59pm

The protest was wrong IMO. Mainly the timing of it. U2 were booked by Eavis to appear at his festival for one simple purpose: To entertain. Hijacking this occasion is, disturbing fans enjoying the show, who queued and waited in the pouring rain and mud all day is a disgrace and just as egoistic as certain of Bono's habits.

Bono and his band don't need to see a massive inflatable banner obstructing the view of their fans. They know what they did (or not - that's out for discussion).

Fact is Art uncut have shown massive disrespect for the festival punters who gave their hard-earned to buy tickets for the festival and watch the band. I'd personally would have taken care of that banner if I'd been there. No matter what my opinion is on the tax issue.

The security did a great job. Know when and where to protest. This was not the occasion for it.

Besides, what is an English organisation getting involved in inner Irish politics? I'm sure the Irish can perfectly deal with this issue themselves if they feel the need. It comes across a little bit patronising to say at least.

Lastly, to my knowledge, the U2 folks and their families pay their private taxes in Ireland. Good enough for me when your business is a globally operating enterprise. And that's before you look at the band members activities outside the U2 umbrella. Bono has his investment compnay 'Elevation Partners' based in the US, Edge runs some property development company, etc. Has anyone picked up on that?

Art Uncut were simply looking for a marketing stunt for their very own. Selfish is a word that springs to mind.
Charity and taxes are separate issues, I agree here with one of the above comments but U2 bashing is too easy. Maybe Bono is a bit of a hypocrite but his involvement in charity work, for whatever reason shouldn't be neglected. That alone makes Bono to me less of a celebrity to pick on than countless others, who moan and whinge but do shit all.

And btw, the Rolling Stones did something similar- ever wondered about the title "Exile on Main Street"? It doesn't make it ok or worse - it's just a fat of life and Art Uncut should maybe concentrate on less high-profile people but look around them. How many are trying to dodge taxes? It's not a celeb issue. I'm all up for Art Uncut's main concern, which is evading tax, but get your focus right. Bono's not a main target.

Can we now get back to music?

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