Your music is fantastic. Your massive show planned for 12 July 2012 in London’s Hyde Park sure promises to be one hell of a day. However, we’re horrified to see that the communications and tax-dodging giant Vodafone is sponsoring the show. This short statement is a request for you to disassociate yourself from Vodafone or for you to at least make a public statement of solidarity on the day. Please let us explain.
The UK is currently facing £111bn worth of public sector cuts from a Conservative coalition government. These cuts make Margaret Thatcher look like a Liberal.
Over 700,000 public sector workers are facing the chop, our health system is being slowly privatised, people will lose their homes, and vital front line public services are being shut down. In addition, employment rights and the minimum wage are under threat as the government seeks to make people work for free in return for social security, creating an army of cheap labour.
These cuts are all taking place under the guise of broken Britain. “We have no money”, the government says. And yet some £25billion worth of UK tax is avoided every single year by the largest corporations and the richest people.
A popular civil society movement is growing in the UK with people from all walks of life calling for the government to stop the cuts and start reclaiming the money that is owed to us from the richest in our society.
Vodafone has avoided between £6bn and £8bn in tax over the past 10 years. This is an obscene amount of money. What’s more, last month it paid a record dividend of £6bn to its shareholders. That £6bn is our money. That £6bn needs to be invested into keeping our struggling public services running. That £6bn needs to be invested into our hospitals. That £6bn could be invested into public infrastructure to kick start our ailing economy.
For the past year UK citizens across the country have been shutting down Vodafone stores in disgust at this company’s attitude to our country. This is a British company that has thrived off our public services but is doing everything it can to contribute as little as possible in return.
You have a proud tradition of supporting just causes. You headlined the Amnesty Human Rights Tour, you’ve supported Vietnam War Veterans, Barack Obama, and have sung alongside Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. Your songs, ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’ and ‘Youngstown’ are powerful works about poverty and the power of multinational corporations.
In 1984 you turned down millions of dollars from the Chrysler Corporation to use your song ‘Born in the USA’ in an advert. Please now make a powerful stand for ordinary folk in the UK and reject Vodafone’s sponsorship cash, or at least stand with us at your live show and make a statement of solidarity.