Peter Gabriel has never been scared to say what he thinks, even in the early years with Genesis he was making political commentary on the changes that were taking place in the UK in the 1970s. In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the political campaigns he’s been involved with over the years.
Since 1986 Peter Gabriel has been involved heavily with Amnesty International. He helped organise a series of concerts, the Human Rights Concerts, which featured some of the world’s top musicians including U2, The Police, Page and Plant, Sting and Carlos Santana. His work with Amnesty International has continued, setting up WITNESS, an organisation designed to make it possible for anyone, anywhere to use video and internet technologies to document human rights abuses and to help protect them for everyone. Human rights violations are a serious problem worldwide and in places where there are serious abuses activists risk their lives to expose the truth. WITNESS is there to help support these brave people.
In 2007 he helped set up an organisation called The Elders, chaired originally by ex UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan along with other other former leaders including Martii Ahtisaari, Jimmy Carter, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Mary Robinson among others. Funded by Gabriel and Richard Branson, the organisation uses its collective knowledge and experience to try to bring peaceful solutions to conflicts, approach global problems with the idea of trying to reduce human suffering and to create global harmony.
Today, Gabriel is active in support for human rights violations in Israel and victims of the Syrian civil war.
Peter Gabriel is well known as a very political musician, even for his early work in Genesis. His first very high profile dabble in politics, outside his human rights work, was in 1992 when he campaigned for withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland on the 20th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday Massacre alongside Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Blair, Tony Benn, Ken Loach and John Pilger.
In 1997 he was one of the biggest financial supporters of the Labour Party, helping them sweep home with a historic landslide. He supported the Blair government until 2003 when he stopped supporting them financially after the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
In 2005 he allowed the Green Party of England and Wales a record a version of his song “Don’t Give Up” for the general election campaign. He was also described by The Guardian as “a staunch supporter of proportional representation.”
Gabriel also had a major incident with right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh when his music was used during a segment where he criticised women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke. The disgust is understandable given the positions he holds. Limbaugh has described African Americans as “hating the United States” he has dismissed the concept of consent in sex, has described feminism as “to allow unattractive women easier access to mainstream society” and downplayed torture by American soldiers in the infamous Abu Gharib prison as “something that happens at fraternities.” Gabriel released a statement saying “Peter was appalled that his music was linked to Rush Limbaugh’s extraordinary attack on Sandra Fluke. It is obvious form anyone that knows Peter’s work would never approve such a use”