Twas the week before Christmas and all through the town angry protesters were shutting shops down.

Posted: December 19, 2010 in Tax Avoidance

Payday, the nationwide demonstration organised by UK Uncut took place yesterday appropriately on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Two months ago, on October 27th about 65 people ran along Oxford Street, entered a Vodafone store seconds after it opened for the day, sat down, regained their breath and started chanting. Vodafone’s flagship store had been shut down, and it remained closed almost all day. Sometime that afternoon two middle-aged, sharp suited men stepped out of a cab and stood behind police lines staring at the crowd blocking the shop doorway. They were two executives from Vodafone’s head office. They looked worried. But, at that moment, there was no way they could have anticipated what would come next. A sit-in that was meant to be a one-off got picked up on Twitter, captured the imagination of people across the country and went viral. Less than two months later and co-ordinated protests have rocked tax avoiders on high streets from Aberystwyth to Aberdeen.

The day kicked off around half nine with Bournemouth holding the first action. An hour later news came in that the Cardiff action had targeted Topshop with Edinburgh doing likewise soon after. By 11am four more actions had publicised there doings on Twitter. Big news came in about 2345 when it was announced the HSBC, Covent Garden had been occupied by a group of protesters in sleeping bags. Throughout the rest of the days Twitter was buzzing with updates on which shops had been shut down where. Vodaphone with £6billion in unpaid tax and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group stores, which include TopShop, Miss Selfridge and Burton amongst others, with £285million in tax in 2005 alone remain the focus of growing public anger, but companies such as Boots, Marks and Spencer, Barclays and HSBC have also been targeted nationally over tax avoidance claims. Rebecca Davies, 32, said: “Over four years £100bn is expected to be lost to the public purse to tax avoidance, which could pay for so many of the cuts that will hit the poorest in our society. Ordinary people around Britain will stand up and show that they will not be lied to, and that we will not let these unnecessary cuts happen without a fight.”

One point that seemed to baffle protesters as they went from store to store closing as they went was why there seemed to be so little if any television coverage of the event. For some reason, despite there being 55 protests taking place up and down the country broadcasters both local and national still placed ultimate importance on Britain’s winter weather. Was this a journalistic blunder of great proportions or was this a purposeful snub intended to break the will of the protestors. Whatever the case it was ultimately irrelevant as with a movement of this size there would be no doubt the voice of the people would be heard.


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