Sanctimonious hypocrite Bono (some say), and his smug U2 cohorts, last night faced a Glastonbury protest centred on the band's record of tax-avoidance.
The tax-shy, pint-sized popster - who likes to pontificate on how other people's tax money should be spent in order to save the world, maaan - had just taken to the stage when protesters inflated a giant balloon saying "U pay tax 2".
Security allegedly wrestled the "Art Uncut" activists to the ground and deflated their balloon before "confiscating" it. So much for Glastonbury's tradition of peaceful protest. The band didn't intervene, of course.
Bono, who made it to the shortlist of New Internationalist's "Most Artful Tax Dodgers" in 2008, has a long record of tax avoidance - perfectly legal of course. He once asked the media to lay off corrupt ex Irish prime minister, Charlie Haughey, who introduced Ireland's Artist's Exemption Tax. Haughey was sick at the time, but the rest of us were sicker of him.
U2 availed of this disgraceful tax shelter for years, meaning they did not pay a penny to the Irish Exchequer on any of their royalties. When the legislation was capped at €250,000 in 2006 (that is, only earnings over that figure would be taxed), Bono and the boys upped sticks and moved their operation to the Netherlands. A beautiful day to take it all away.
It is interesting that the tax protest took place in England (see above, prior to the gig). The last time U2 played here in Dublin the only protesters were those complaining about noise. And much as I hate the sight and sound of U2 - a curious mix of pompous vocal and a few PIL chords - I hate their tax dodging more... especially coupled with Bono's egotistical posturing.
I don't think the band - which is up there with the US multinationals when it comes to channelling and maximising profits - has ever faced a tax protest from Ireland's bovinely uncritical natives.
Let's hope it catches on elsewhere, at least.
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