Guest blog: Day of Action for our Railways

Posted on Fri 15th Aug 2014, 8:44am
This is a guest blog by Ellie Harrison founder and coordinator of Bring Back British Rail



Please support us this Tuesday 19 August for our national Day of Action for Public Ownership of our Railways, which coincides with the dreaded day when we find out how much our already over-priced train tickets will increase in the New Year.

In rail, as in nearly all of the essential public services and utilities which were privatised in the ’80 and ’90s, we are being ripped off. The inefficiencies of the market coupled with the ‘false’ profits extracted from taxpayer subsidies by the private Train Operating Companies, is wasting £1.2 billion a year. Privatised Rail costs us much more than it ever did, when it was run as one fully integrated public company called British Rail.

For example, Virgin Trains – the joint venture between billionaire Richard Branson and Brian Souter of Stagecoach, which runs our West Coast main line has, since 1997, taken £500 million in profit which could otherwise have been invested for the public good. Arriva Trains Wales – now owned by the German state company Deutsche Bahn – has extracted £75 million in profit since the start of its franchise in 2003 (figures from the 2013 report The Great Train Robbery).

It’s time to make a stand! We simply cannot afford to be throwing away this money. For the sake of the environment, more than anything, we must be investing in and expanding our public transport system, so that it is easy, efficient, affordable and, dare I say, even enjoyable for people as a vital alternative to cars and short-haul flights.

Of all the failures of privatisation, it is in rail where we are making most ground. Since launching Bring Back British Rail in 2009 I have witnessed public support and momentum really grow. Our small passenger-led campaign was joined by the TUC’s Action for Rail in 2012 and Compass’s new All on Board this summer. With signs that Labour is finally starting to admit to failures, now is the time we bring in more new voices to help us really put the pressure on.

We are calling on UK Uncutters to join us on Tuesday at the actions all over the country, and at our big demo in London at King’s Cross Station (see details below). Help us find new ways to draw attention to this important issue, which encompasses economic, social and environmental justice all at once. The re-nationalisation of our railways has the potential to be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ – the carrier for a new political narrative, which, if we can work together to make a reality, could pave the way for the public ownership of all our essential public services and utilities, which should never have been given away.

All on Board for Public Ownership
London action:
Tuesday 19 August 2014
7:30 – 9:00AM
King’s Cross Station
(assemble in King’s Cross Square at front of station for 8:00AM photo-op)

Join the Facebook event for all the updates, or email me to meet in London: info@bringbackbritishrail.org

Support Bring Back British Rail at:
www.bringbackbritishrail.org
www.facebook.com/bringbackbritishrail

CALL OUT: #VodafoneAGM: Occupy Online

Posted on Mon 28th Jul 2014, 12:00pm


Vodafone keep dodging tax, and the Government keep letting them get away with it.

Last year Vodafone made a profit of £294 million and paid no corporation tax. They haven’t paid a penny in corporation tax since 2011. But that’s not even their biggest tax dodge: in 2010 they were allowed to get away with avoiding over £6 billion. They still haven’t paid it back.

That's money they owe the British public. What do you think it should be spent on?

On Tuesday July 29th at 11am, Vodafone will be celebrating their biggest day of the year – they’ve got their annual shareholder meeting in London, a chance to get together and pat themselves on the back for another year of sky high profits and rock bottom tax.

Last month people up and down the country occupied their stores to protest. On Tuesday let’s occupy Vodafone online. We can use their own social media channels against them and spread the word about Vodafone’s tax dodging, and the Government’s refusal to do anything about it.

This is only going to work if lots of people get involved. Here’s what you can do:

1. Facebook: at 11am go to VodafoneUK’s facebook page and put a comment under their latest post. Tell Vodafone what you think their dodged tax should be spent on.

2. Twitter: at 11am tweet .@VodafoneUK and use #VodafoneAGM - tell them what the £6billion they dodged in tax should be spent on. If you’ve got space, @David_Cameron and @George_Osborne as well – it’s their fault Vodafone can get away with this.

So whether you think Vodafone’s dodged tax should be spent on hospitals, schools, welfare or housing, make your voice heard, get involved and hijack their hashtag.

See you online.

Guest blog: Tax Dodging Tours

Posted on Thu 24th Jul 2014, 1:22pm
This is a guest blog from ActionAid

At ActionAid we've been campaigning for tax justice and exposing how big businesses dodge their taxes since 2008. We've come up with a fun new way to share what we've learnt: a tax justice walking tour around Mayfair.



Tax dodging by big business has become big news, but it's not just the UK that's losing out. Developing countries lose 3 times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year. There's over $20 trillion stashed in offshore tax havens. How does big business manage to avoid taxes and how do they get away with it? If you’re curious about the answers to these questions, this walking tour is for you.

In the last few years, tax justice campaigning by ActionAid and others has made good progress, but there is still a long way to go. The point of this tour is for people to understand what’s going on and to feel inspired that there is something everyone can do about tax dodging. Whether you are totally new to tax justice or already campaigning on this, the tour is a fun way to learn and get involved.

As recent research by Oxfam and the Equality trust shows, tax dodging is driving poverty and inequality all over the world, including here in the UK. We can't address the growing gap between rich and poor without redistributing wealth - tax is an important way of doing this. Our tour explores connections between tax dodging, inequality and poverty, at home and abroad, and gives an introduction to the exciting global and local movements for tax justice.

If you'd like to join us on a tour, we're running them monthly. The next on is on August 9th – find out more and book your place here.
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