David Allen Green (Who I otherwise respect greatly) has written a quick note on his blog at New Statesman to say that UK Uncut are protesting against the wrong targets. He says “The UKUncut protesters should campaign for more funding for HMRC and improved tax legislation. If they should be protesting anywhere on a miserable day like today, it should be outside the Treasury.”
He is wrong, and here is why. Shouting at MPs achieves nothing. David Cameron recently said “It will make me unpopular. I recognise that. It’s my duty.” I don’t know what motivates our MPs (Well I have some idea, but that’s for another day) but one thing we know is that they never change their minds.
Making life hard for big business, on the other hand, makes things happen. Shutting down Vodafone shops and embarrassing Barclays makes things happen. HMRC is briefing its staff on UK Uncut. Boots, Vodafone, Barclays and other businesses have been forced to respond to negative press coverage with hasty press releases. Protesting in high street shops has made more happen than tens of thousands gathering in parliament square has.
Green argued that UK Uncut needs to campaign for better tax legislation and policy. They are campaigning for precisely that! You could argue that they are protesting indirectly by going up against business, but given that those businesses all have very large amount of influence over our tax policies, I say it’s a direct protest.
Green also suggested that protesters should target Labour since they got us in to this situation where companies can avoid so much tax. Well yes, we know Labour were just as bad as the Conservatives, if not worse, but they aren’t in power right now, are they.