Guest blog: a Small Spark of Hope

Posted on Sun 15th Jun 2014, 6:30pm
This is a guest blog by Maddy Evans, one of the coordinators of the Economic Justice Project, on behalf of the Jubilee Debt Campaign

On Monday, St Peter’s Community Hall in Bethnal Green, London, will be transformed into The Spark: a week-long hub of social justice workshops, discussions, music, art, poetry and more.


With almost 50 sessions, The Spark looks at topics from privatisation to policing, from political poetry to young people’s voice in film and media, from economics to the environment. It brings together a wide range of groups working on diverse social justice issues in the UK and globally. As well as promoting an understanding of the issues, it aims to provide space to speak and perform the hope and despair, the joy, and the rage, that flows from this understanding and to build new relationships and networks to contribute to a stronger movement for social and economic justice in the UK.

I keep hearing people say that progressive movements in the UK have lost hope and offer no positive alternatives. I’m not sure about that – I don’t feel hopeless when I hear about the tenacious, inventive & politician-arse-kicking campaigning of the E15 mothers (now launching their ‘Focus on the Future’ campaign), or the victories of the 3cosas campaign , or even just when I raise my voice at My Heart Sings (renamed The Spark Sings for one week only) with a group of joyful women, inspired to work for social justice at home, at work and in the world.

And, if none of that does it for you check out the Friday night session where Selma James, a life-long activist, feminist author and critic, Clara Osagiede, a leader of the successful London Underground cleaners’ living wage campaign, and Zena Edwards, amazing spoken word artist, will all speak about how they have kept hope alive through dark times, and stayed committed to social change. We hope people will leave the Spark with a renewed sense of excitement about getting active, or staying active, on social justice – especially in difficult times.

Saturday the 21 June sees a full day of sessions focussed on intersectionality and liberation. Not sure what ‘intersectionality’ means? Don’t worry! The day includes a starter session explaining ‘what intersectionality is, and why it’s important for social justice struggles’, followed by sessions on organising accessible events, inequality and under representation on the left, solidarity organising, using music to empower communities, and islamophobia and women’s liberation.

The Spark is being organised by a group of individuals from a wide range of social justice focused groups including London Roots Collective, Black Feminists, UK Uncut, Algeria Solidarity Campaign, AMP (art and politics must meet), People & Planet and Jubilee Debt Campaign for the Economic Justice Project, youth and refugee organisations, and others.

We hope to see you there.

Find out more and sign up: www.thesparkspace.org

This blog was first published at Open Democracy

Press release: 12 actions across the UK

Posted on Sat 14th Jun 2014, 9:00pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel: 07415 063 231 | 07823 934 863

Email ukuncut@gmail.com
@UKUncut

Photos available free here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.684454004935864.1073741838.141516115896325&type=1

* Protesters shut down Vodafone’s flagship store on Oxford Street for over two hours.[1]
* 12 actions took place across the country including in central London, Cornwall and Manchester.[2]
* Flagship store blockaded by mothers, babies and disabled activists

Ten Vodafone stores were successfully targeted today over the company’s alleged tax avoidance in UK Uncut’s biggest day of action of 2014. Actions took place from Cornwall to Glasgow with hundreds of people estimated to have taken part.

In London, protesters shut down Vodafone’s flagship store on Oxford Street for over two hours. Focus E15, a group of single mothers and their children joined the protest along with disabled activists and UK Uncut. Despite scuffles with Vodafone’s private security, the group blockaded the doors and held a protest inside and outside the store. The protest transformed the store into a house warming party with games, music and dancing.

Protesters are demanding Vodafone pay the billions in tax owed to the public purse and that the government force corporations to pay up. UK Uncut says the protests highlight the current "social housing crisis", which they claim the Government are making worse by cutting housing benefits, slashing funding for affordable homes and failing to build social housing. Current estimates suggest that 1.6 million families are on the waiting list for social housing and that 50,000 people face eviction due to the bedroom tax.[3]

Vodafone was the first company to be targeted in a series of high-profile protests by UK Uncut for avoiding a £6bn tax bill in 2010.[4] It was recently revealed that Vodafone have not paid any corporation tax in the UK since 2011 despite making a post-tax profit of £59.4bn this year.[5] The protests are taking place just six weeks before Vodafone's AGM and less than a year before the general election in which the government’s record on tackling tax avoidance while slashing public spending will be centre stage.

UK Uncut activist Emma Sanchez, 32, said "We had a great party in Vodafone’s flagship store with mums, kids, babies, disabled activists and lots of passers-by joining in. We are sick of the government letting corporations like Vodafone dodge billions every year whilst millions of people are left without decent safe housing"

Jasmine Stone, a member of Focus E15 said: "Blockading the doors of Vodafone’s flagship store today was incredible and we won’t stop protesting until this government stop the cuts and make corporations pay their fair share"

ENDS

Notes for editors

UK Uncut (www.ukuncut.org.uk) is a grassroots movement taking action to highlight alternatives to the government's spending cuts.

For more information on Focus E15 see: http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/kate-belgrave/focus-e15-young-mothers-struggle-for-universal-housing

For more information on Disabled People Against Cuts see: www.dpac.uk.net

[1] 341-349 Oxford St, London W1C 2JE

[2] Actions are planned in Bristol, Cornwall, Grimsby, London, Manchester, Newbury, Norwich, Peterborough, Glasgow and St Albans. See http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions

[3] For information about the social housing waiting list see: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/guest-blog-from-tuc and http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/aug/08/economy.housing

[4] UK Uncut first accused Vodafone of avoiding a £6bn tax bill relating to the purchase of German engineering firm Mannesmann in October 2010. At the time, the claim was dismissed by the company and HMRC as an 'urban myth'. In 2011, however, a parliamentary committee said the deal 'may have been illegal' and could have been worth up to £8bn. The deal will now be investigated as part of the judge-led review of corporate tax deals struck by HMRC. See - http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1704527/Taxman-let-Vodafone-off-6bn-bill.html - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8875360/Taxman-accused-of-letting-Vodafone-off-8-billion.ht... - http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/dec/06/hmrc-tax-deal-vodafone

[5] - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1355daf4-db7f-11e3-b112-00144feabdc0.html - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/vodafone-courts-new-tax-row-with-transfer-to-luxembo...

Press release: protesters occupying Vodafone stores over tax avoidance

Posted on Sat 14th Jun 2014, 11:25am
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel: 07415 063 231 | 07823 934 863

Email ukuncut@gmail.com @UKUncut

*Protesters occupying Vodafone’s flagship store on Oxford Street – happening now.[1]

* 10 actions taking place across the country including in central London, Cornwall and Manchester.[2]

* Over 45,000 people sign petition calling on Vodafone to pay up

* 80% of public think Government are ‘not doing enough to reduce tax avoidance’ according to YouGov. [3]

* Protest groups Focus E15 Mothers to join in 'national day of action' to highlight cuts to social housing.

Vodafone branches up and down the country are being occupied by anti-austerity group UK Uncut, in protest against the mobile giant's tax avoiding practices. Protesters are throwing a ‘housewarming party’ in Vodafone’s flagship store on Oxford Street – it is being occupied by a group of single mothers and their children angry about tax avoidance and Government cuts leading to a social housing crisis. Mothers with buggies and disabled people are blocking the store’s doors while protesters put up bunting and turn the store into a ‘home’.

Protesters are demanding Vodafone pay the billions in tax owed to the public purse and that the government force corporations to pay up. UK Uncut says the protests highlight the current "social housing crisis", which they say the Government are making worse by cutting housing benefits, slashing funding for affordable homes and failing to build social housing. Current estimates suggest that 1.6 million families are on the waiting list for social housing and that 50,000 people face eviction due to the bedroom tax.[4]

The protests tap into the growing anger of people unable to access suitable housing for their families. In London the Focus E15 Mothers campaign, who are known for occupying council offices and show homes in East London[5] and activists from Disabled People Against Cuts[6] have joined the protest.

Vodafone was the first company to be targeted in a series of high-profile protests by UK Uncut for avoiding a £6bn tax bill in 2010.[7] It was recently revealed that Vodafone have not paid any corporation tax in the UK since 2011 despite making a post-tax profit of £59.4bn this year.[8] The protests are taking place just six weeks before Vodafone's AGM and less than a year before the general election in which the government’s record on tackling tax avoidance while slashing public spending will be centre stage.

UK Uncut activist Charley Dainty, 27, said "We’re here to demand that the Government stop tax dodging by the super-rich and that Vodafone pay up. Cameron and his millionaire mates in Cabinet are overseeing cuts to housing benefits, the bedroom tax and rocketing rents which are forcing people into desperate situations. Vodafone's dodged taxes could pay for safe and secure housing for the people who need it most"

Jasmine Stone, a member of Focus E15 said: "We'll be at the VodaHome action with UK Uncut because there is not enough social housing being built and there should be enough for everyone"

ENDS

Notes for editors

UK Uncut (www.ukuncut.org.uk) is a grassroots movement taking action to highlight alternatives to the government's spending cuts.

[1] 341-349 Oxford St, London W1C 2JE

[2] Actions are planned in Bristol, Cornwall, Grimsby, London, Manchester, Newbury, Norwich, Peterborough, Glasgow and St Albans. See http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions

[3] http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/4wyibrfzi3/YG-Archive-140512-Barlow-Tax.pdf

[4] For information about the social housing waiting list see: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/guest-blog-from-tuc and http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/aug/08/economy.housing

[5] http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/kate-belgrave/focus-e15-young-mothers-struggle-for-universal-housing

[6] www.dpac.uk.net

[7] UK Uncut first accused Vodafone of avoiding a £6bn tax bill relating to the purchase of German engineering firm Mannesmann in October 2010. At the time, the claim was dismissed by the company and HMRC as an 'urban myth'. In 2011, however, a parliamentary committee said the deal 'may have been illegal' and could have been worth up to £8bn. The deal will now be investigated as part of the judge-led review of corporate tax deals struck by HMRC. See

- http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1704527/Taxman-let-Vodafone-off-6bn-bill.html

- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8875360/Taxman-accused-of-letting-Vodafone-off-8-billion.html

- http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/dec/06/hmrc-tax-deal-vodafone

[8] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1355daf4-db7f-11e3-b112-00144feabdc0.html http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/vodafone-courts-new-tax-row-with-transfer-to-luxembourg-haven-9504224.html
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