Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Why Bono should welcome his Glastonbury reckoning

Our headline is copied from a fine new Guardian article looking at the celebrated but controversial musician Bono, who looks set to come in for severe criticism from the Uncut movement - specifically its highly active (and fabulous) Art Uncut wing - for being an advocate of the poor - then shifting a large part of his (and his band's) financial affairs to the Netherlands in 2006 to avoid tax. As the Guardian succinctly puts it:
"Bono is happy to tell the government how it should spend taxpayers' money – campaigning for an increase to the aid budget – yet he has taken his tax euros not just from Ireland's development fund, but also its hospitals and schools."
Bono will face a demonstration at the Glastonbury Festival on June 25th (and the following day, at the Bull and Gate pub in Kentish town, TJN's director John Christensen will be speaking, alongside Maurice Glasman, a key contributor / interviewee to TJN's book Treasure Islands. )

Despite the (justifiable) protests Bono is, of course, a complex character. There's obviously a big good side to him, along with the bad.
"The U2 frontman has been at the forefront of a new advocacy for Africa that focuses not on aid but on grassroots campaigning: challenging the old trade inequalities, loosening the stranglehold of the debt burden and bringing the arguments for trade justice to a wider audience."
It's a really good Guardian article - as much about Glastonbury and the "corporate creep" that has increasingly taken a hold of the festival as it is about Bono and Art Uncut - and it concludes that the Art Uncut action promises not to make an important point about a global media figure, but also can help rejuvenate the festival itself:
As the coalition government's savage cuts bite harder, the tax argument proves time and again that it is not a red herring. . . . . Arguably, Art Uncut's proposed action – as long as it is peaceful – is a welcome return of the festival's founding spirit.
Bono runs an organisation called ONE, dedicated to helping people in developing countries. It is influential, and has much good to say for it. They have even started talking about tax, in a limited (and positive) way, though not yet on the singer's and the band's own tax affairs. Take a look at this, from the front page.

There's a hole there: a box missing in the bottom right hand corner. The time has come to fill this hole with a three-letter word ending in -x. Only one other three-letter word ending in -x has the ability to generate so many newspaper headlines.

Would it be too much to dare to hope that Bono might consider making the right announcement about his own tax affairs at Glastonbury? Perhaps. But if he did, we would be the first to applaud.

3 Comments:

Blogger La madre de Fernando said...

Hi, how can I subscribe to your blog? (i teach tax law at the universidad carlos III and could really use some of your stuff -congratulations on a very good blog too)

8:24 am  
Blogger Demetrius said...

Pro Bono Publico?

8:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

La madre de Fernando: you should be able to copy the URL of the site and paste into a feedreader (like Netvibes for example).The reader will automatically pick up the feeds.

Hope that helps.

2:21 am  

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