Billy Bragg Threatens to Stop Paying Taxes in Bank Bonus Protest
Published Jan 18, 2010It's been 27 years since Billy Bragg released his first album, but the leftist songwriter still hasn't lost any of his political fire. In November, he appeared before Canadian Parliament to defend the rights of music downloaders, as well as joining a protest in support of union workers in Gatineau, QC.
Now, Bragg is making a stand against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), protesting the fact that, despite the dire state of the economy, investment bankers are still scheduled to receive massive annual bonuses next month.
Last year, the British government used £117 billion of taxpayers' money to bail out its failing banks; in February, £1.5 billion of that is planned to be put towards bonuses to RBS bankers. Bragg has stated that, unless Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling agrees to limit these bonuses to £25,000, he will refuse to pay taxes when they are due on January 31.
Bragg has written to Darling informing him of this protest, and has encouraged fellow British taxpayers to do the same. To promote his campaign, he started a Facebook page called NoBonus4RBS, a cause that has 2,421 members as of press time. Bragg's personal account, meanwhile, currently shows a picture of the songwriter wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, designed in the likeness of the man who attempted to blow up British Parliament in 1605.
Bragg wrote that he does not oppose the bank bailout in principle, agreeing that "the Treasury had little choice but to use taxpayers' money to safeguard savings and stabilise and restore confidence in the financial system." Rather, Bragg's outrage is solely limited to the annual bonuses.
He complained, "What I don't understand is why, now that we taxpayers are the majority shareholders of these banks, we seem totally powerless to curb their excessive bonus culture?"
Join Bragg's protest on Facebook here.