The Egyptian revolution -- brought to you by Vodafone!

Vodafone's new ad claims it inspired the uprising -- even though it is accused of shutting down netw

 

 

Vodafone has sparked fury in Egypt after an advert which suggests that it, and its tagline, helped to inspire the revolution in the country earlier this year.

The commercial starts by showing how Vodafone launched its "power to you" Campaign in Egypt on 1 January 2011, three weeks before the uprising.

It goes on to show images from rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square, saying: "We didn't send people to the streets, we didn't start the revolution... We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are".

Perhaps not surprisingly, the film has not had the desired effect. "Never mind the years of activism, the protests, the decades of cumulated grievances, the terrible economic situation, the trampled political freedoms, the police brutality, the torture, etc," said the prominent blogger Mohamed El-Dahshan. "Nah -- we just watched a Vodafone ad, and thought: 'Hey! We're powerful! Let's topple the president!'"

The video is spectacularly misjudged, given that many pro-change activists accuse Vodafone -- and other mobile phone companies -- of following Egyptian government orders to implement a communications blackout at the height of the revolution. Vodafone, one of the two largest mobile phone operators in the country, said at the time that it was not responsible for blocking Twitter. "It's a problem all over Egypt and we are waiting for a solution."

Vodafone have strenuously denied that this film is anything to do with them, claiming that it was made by their ad agency JWT for internal use only (although, seeing as JWT planned to launch it at Cannes next week, this seems dubious).

Attempting to cash in on the cache of the Arab Spring seems to be something of a trend (see my colleague Laurie Penny on Beyonce's latest video). At best, this advert is a cynical attempt to commercialise the revolution -- at worst, it does a serious disservice to all those who lost their lives.

 

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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