BREAKING: UK Uncut highlight Vodafone tax dodge at Latitude Festival
The Latitude Festival is great. Smarter than almost all other music festivals and more hip than the literature festivals it’s where you go to enjoy a hip and thoughtful weekend. That’s why almost all of the Bright Green team are there.
Unfortunately the organisers seem to have gone out of their way to get sponsorship from tax dodgers. The main sponsors are Vodafone – a company notorious for avoiding around £6bn of tax. Instead of paying tax due on a takeover almost ten years ago Vodafone fought the UK government. When the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government came to power last year one of their first decisions was to let Vodafone off with the £6bn contested bill. At the same time they were announcing a cut of almost the same amount to benefits.
Vodafone have also tried to avoid taxes in India, where the money is clearly and desperately needed to tackle poverty. It is clear that they prize profits over making their contribution to the countries where they generate money.
Tax avoidance is imporant because the taxes being dodged could pay for the vital public services that are being cut at the moment. Even if you believe that it’s important to cut the deficit there is no reason to allow companies like Vodafone to walk away without paying tax that they owe. Every pound avoided is a pound that could pay for the cancelled schools-building programme, to provide vital health care for the ill or to avoid pricing all but the very richest out of Universities.
And to add insult to injury the event is also sponsored by the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times. Not only is this owned by the same individual whose other media outlets delight in hacking the ‘phones of missing teenage girls. As I pointed out earlier in the week, Murdoch is also responsible for an extraordinary tax-dodge. He has intimidated most of the media and the government into letting him away with paying no taxes. The last time anyone was brave enough to investigate Murdoch hadn’t paid any tax in the UK in 12 years.
Completing the line-up of tax dodging sponsors is the 39% Murdoch-owned Sky Arts.
To highlight the tax dodging activities of Vodafone and Murdoch some UK Uncut activists, drawn to Latitude by the strong line-up but disgusted by the choice of sponsors have dropped a banner drop from the Vodafone-sponsored “VIP Tower” ahead of the headliner, Paolo Nutini.
I think it is important to highlight this sort of thing; especially since UK festivals are now a far cry from what they are 30 years ago. They are big-business and sorry to say they do err on the side of corps like Vodafone rather than shine a light on ethical and environmental issues, and this is a crying shame. Those who give a toss about people’s rights and protecting the world we live in need to make their voices heard, and if it means doing so at a very corporate music festival then so be it. Luckily I think there are enough like-minded people to make this sort of thing worthwhile-well done I say and don’t stop spreading the word. We shouldn’t get complacent!!
I guess Paolo Nuttini and a strong line-up would trump my ethics and see me contribute to an event sponsored by people responsible for hacking a dead girl’s phone any day.
You could have stood outside, made the point and not royally annoyed the rest of us.
@suffolkbilly I don’t really follow your comment. Who did we annoy? None of the people around me seemed annoyed, in fact quite a lot joined in with some of the chanting at vodafone. No acts were delayed, no customers were inconvenienced.
Or is the problem that you think we were hypocritical to be there at all? Because it was sponsored by the Sunday Times we shouldn’t have gone? That would have been difficult given that UK Uncut was invited to speak at a debate on cuts there, and I’m not sure what a boycott by a few of us who already had tickets would have achieved. In any case, surely going to an event sponsored by someone you don’t like and pointing out why at the time is rather different than contributing to the people you don’t like. They’ve paid to advertise there, we’ve gone there and (marginally) undermined that. Short of a mass boycott that forces them to pull out and suffer bad publicity, which there was no way we could organise in the time we had, what should we do?