On Monday, the
students from the incredible UCL occupation organised in less than 24 hours and
descended on Topshop Oxford Street, the heart of tax-dodger Sir Philip Green’s
retail empire. They occupied a door, blockaded a pavement and refused to move
even when security guards told them that Sir Phil wanted them off his property.
Their slogan was: “You marketise our education, and we’ll educate your market.”
The next morning, UK
Uncut announced the new target for this Saturday’s day of action was… Sir
Philip Green. We’d like to pretend this link up was the result of calculated
strategic co-ordination between us and the UCL crew. It wasn’t. It was a happy
But it was a
coincidence that draws attention to a useful point, made eloquently by the UCL
occupiers: the fight against tax avoiders is the same fight as the fight
against fees and cuts.
Tackling rich tax
avoiders was one of the Lib Dems’ four key election pledges, right alongside opposing
tuition fee hikes. Both have been broken. This coalition has let Vodafone off a
£6bn tax bill and appointed serial tax avoider Sir Philip Green to advise the
government on cuts. Sir Philip’s £285m tax dodge could pay the fees of 32,000
students. The money Vodafone were let off would cover every single cut to
higher education many times over.
But this is not just
an issue of fees, it’s an issue of solidarity. The students have done a damn
good job of articulating their link to the wider anti-cuts movement. The issue
of tax avoidance is a way that we can forge those links on the street.
Pensioners, unemployed, those on incapacity benefit, public service workers,
unionists and others have all joined UK Uncut actions around the country.
Sitting together in shop doorways, blockading the high street stores of the tax
avoiding rich, we can build the sort of networks necessary to build this movement
beyond a single issue and bring down this government.
savage public spending cuts on the poor and indulging the rich, this government
likes to claim that ‘we are all in this together.’ All we need to remember, is
that if the government reclaimed the £25bn tax avoided by rich individuals and
corporations every year, it could pay for all
of the services the government is planning to cut.
This Saturday the
students will be joining a growing coalition to take on
tax avoiders. Let’s join together, let’s go on the offensive, let’s take this
to the high streets.