Why should the the Fairford Air Tattoo be a Charity
Wednesday September 29, 2010 14:52 by I will not die quietly
The Fairford Air Tattoo's accounts show only 0.3% of their sales go to helping injured service personnel. Meanwhile it touts advertises the obscene logic of the military industrial complex and swarms of bombers and fighters are flow across the world for a weekends outing with no regard to their CO2 emissions at a time when every other thinking person is being asked to do everything in their power to cut emissions.
There is something wrong when bombing is made more family friendly than climate change. If you think this is outrageous, then complain to the charities commission.
Proposed text of complaint to the Charities commission, (see their online complaints form, http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Forms/Complaints.aspx)
I would like to register a formal complaint about the RAF Charitable Trust and its associated trading arm, the Fair ford Air Tattoo. This event is extremely controversial in the Gloucestershire area and deeply resented by many local people, it is therefore incumbent on the Charity Commission to fully review the charitable status of this event.
This trust states the following as its charitable objectives:-
1. To promote the recruitment to, and efficiency of, the Royal Air Force. To this end, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust will support the Royal Air Force and encourage air-mindedness through the opportunities presented by the Royal International Air Tattoo, by established links with youth groups including the Air Training Corps and by developing other opportunities with the RAF.
2. To raise funds in support of the work of Royal Air Force charities.
As regards the first charitable objective, I question why this objective is worthy of charitable status when it is clear that the show’s primary objective is to legitimise further defence spending, to act as an arms fair, and to act as an advertisement for the show’s sponsor BAE Systems.
As regards the second charitable objective, according to charities published accounts, the funds raised are trivial compared to the ticket sales, and thus visitors to the air show are misled about the use of their money is put to. All publications and web pages carry the RAF Charitable Trust logo with the purpose of presenting the image that the show’s sales will benefit a worthy cause.
In the face of climate change and the dangerous build-up of greenhouse gases, this event is a producer of unnecessary greenhouse emissions. This and the message it presents undermines the efforts of many people all over the world to combat climate change, it completely flouts all scientific evidence on climate change and it seriously damages educational campaigns going on elsewhere.
The detailed justification for these claims follows below:
Point 1 – Validity of encouraging youngsters into aviation
The Charitable Trust’s web site states that “At the heart of the Trust is its commitment to young people, to initiate and develop within them an enthusiasm for aviation in all its guises.” This statement confirms that the Air Tattoo is concerned with supporting the aviation industry in general, and not about recruitment and efficiency of the RAF. No other industry has a comparable trade show enjoying charitable status with the objective of recruiting our youth.
The aviation industry does not need charitable support; it is already highly subsidized far more than many other industries – massive government backed loans have been given to Airbus, most recently for the A380 and A350 programmes, there is no tax on fuel and no VAT on ticket sales and there is huge government funding for military research and continued support for mismanaged programmes that massively exceed budget. To confer tax exempt charitable status on one of the industry’s biggest advertisements simply adds to the government support for the industry and the burden on tax payers.
The Air Tattoo is sponsored by BAE Systems’ which is the UK’s biggest arms supplier. BAE Systems has admitted bribes and corruption in securing arms deals around the world. It sold a military air traffic control system to Tanzania, even though Tanzania did not have a military air force. BAE Systems is not a company that acts for altruistic reasons. It sponsors this event because it is in its interests do so, and it is in its interests because this event increases sales opportunities within this country and with clients from abroad. To underscore the importance of this event to the international arms trade and aviation market, the Air Tattoo this year boasted about the VIP guests from Jordan, Iraq and China and has planes on display from Russia and elsewhere all around the world which are all seeking new markets.
Our young people face a bleak future as a consequence of runaway climate change. They will have to learn how to live in a low carbon future and understand the impacts that this will have on their future choices. Many people are investing much of their time and effort in explaining this, and events such as the Air Tattoo completely undo this work. The Air Tattoo glorifies mass consumption, ignores climate change obligations and perpetuates the myth that climate change can be solved by others cutting back on their emissions – in doing so it undermines the efforts of many others. Put simply, a massive attempt to recruit youngsters into the aviation industry, which is the most carbon intensive industry on the planet, is immoral.
Point 2 – Financial Contribution
Last year’s accounts show a charitable contribution of £196k out of sales of £8.1m, this is equates to only 2.4% of sales and this was for the Air Cadet force.
The accounts show that only £25,000 was actually donated to the worthy cause of service men who have suffered in the line of duty; this amounting to only 0.3% of ticket sales. This is nothing more than a token gesture to allow the Charitable Trust to publicly claim it is benefiting injured service men and the “Family of RAF charities.”
It is notable that in contrast, the Charities annual report shows that almost £224k is spent on promotional costs for the event; this almost 10 times the amount going to injured service personnel. These figuers must rate the event as one of the most inefficient fund raising organisations in the entire country
Point 3 – Climate change impact.
In itself, this event creates huge amounts of greenhouse gases, at a time when many people in the surrounding area and elsewhere are making sacrifices due to their concerns about climate change. The hosting of an event such as this, and the accolade that charitable status gives to it, insults those people who are concerned about the scientific conclusions of runway climate change. This year, two B52 bombers were flown over from the USA. This equates to about 3000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, when all radiative forcing is included. This single act negates the efforts of thousands of people who are struggling to minimize their emissions.
What is more important is what this show stands for and the message it sends out, to the people of this country and to other counties abroad.
We have just seen the collapse of the Copenhagen Climate talks and the negotiations for the next round of talks in Mexico are not showing any signs of breakthrough. Copenhagen was characterized by the Danish text which proposed that the developed nations stay with their existing emissions and the developing nations would be paid to make appropriate cuts. This was an illegal attempt by the developed nations to hold on to their power base, and they realise that the power base can only be maintained by a large military presence around the world. This takes fuel to operate and a military industrial complex to build and maintain. Holding on to huge amounts of military power is incompatible with the need to make massive cuts in CO2 emissions and events such as the Air Tattoo and the glorification of the power that they project prevent the essential debates on how we curtail CO2 emissions from happening.
I will not die quietly