Amidst all the news reports bouncing back and forth right now about
mass arrests and political policing, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight
of what we’re fighting for, and how far we’ve come as a group. Today
saw the launch of a public inquiry, to be conducted by the Treasury select committee,
into the issue of corporate tax avoidance.
An issue which, six months ago, didn’t even figure on the political map for many, is now taking
centre stage and, one way or another, this Government will be forced
to listen. What is more, the executives of some of the worst offenders
– hopefully Barclays, Vodafone and Boots amongst them – will be called
to answer questions before the committee about their “tax efficiency”
practices. With a bit of luck, Sir Philip Green might even have to
explain to his former employers why he felt that the £250m he dodged
would be better spent on his lifestyle rather than schools and
hospitals for the people who buy his products.
The coalition has already been put on the back foot over tax
avoidance, thanks in a large part to the hard work and dedication of
UK Uncutters up and down the country. The Government mentioned several
new anti tax-avoidance measures in last weeks budget, and is even
discussing a blanket anti-avoidance law, similar to the one in
Australia. This inquiry will ramp up the pressure on Ministers to
introduce such a bill sooner rather than later.
Occasionally people ask us what we’ve achieved and what we hope to
achieve at UK Uncut. When they do, we think not only of the empowering,
inspiring, creative direct actions we’ve taken, of the networks of
friends and activists we’ve forged, or of the debate we’ve lit about
the genuine alternatives to these unnecessary cuts. We also think of hard
won political victories like the one we’ve seen today, victories which
will, slowly but surely, bring about real political change.