You might read the headline of this story and mistakenly believe that people were protesting against U2 for cancelling their slot at the festival last year when Bono hurt his back, or you might think they’re protesting the band on a level of musical taste (a valid reason for some) but, in fact, people were demonstrating at this year’s Glastonbury against U2 for tax evasion.
U2 topped the Forbes list for highest earning musicians in 2010 and 2011, but in 2006 the band moved some of their financial operations to the Netherlands, making them partial tax exiles. In 2005 the Irish government had changed generous tax breaks which benefitted performers by imposing a cap. This means that their homeland of Ireland, which is currently in a very deep recession, is being deprived of precious income.
This is a bit surprising coming from a band who campaigns against global poverty and is known for making charitable donations, but then I guess those donations are probably tax deductible.
The protesters, members of Art Uncut, inflated a balloon 8 metres high with the words “U Pay Your Tax 2” at The Pyramid stage, but it was ripped down by festival security guards within minutes. While there were no arrests made, several protesters were pinned to a fence and one had a minor injury.
It’s disappointing to see the peaceful demonstration was so quickly suppressed by festival security, especially after Michael Eavis made this statement to The Guardian just one week before on the subject of politics at the festival;
“I think it could well become more political. 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. It gives Glastonbury soul and gives it back its purpose.
As a Methodist, I place these values very highly, and recently I’ve been lamenting a bit of a decline. Tickets are good value, but not everyone can afford them. I hate to admit it, but the political platform has been reducing. The overriding reason people come now is to have a good time.”