Notts Uncut: Emergency Operation

Tagged as: austerity banks cuts health nhs notts_uncut tax ukuncut
Neighbourhoods: nottingham

On Saturday 28th May, Notts Uncut organised an "emergency operation" in Nottingham city centre. They visited banks and tax dodging corporations to campaign in defence of the NHS. The protest was part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut.

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People met from 12 noon outside the entrance to the Victoria Centre Boots on Parliament Street. Victoria Centre's security were out and about in force, but they were never on the list of targets and around 40 of us headed off towards Market Square via Clumber Street.

We were a diverse group with people in surgical masks and others in costumes. There were several banners with a range of demands including calls to both "tax the rich" and "eat the rich" (but not at the same time presumably).

The police presence was heavier than it's been at any previous Notts Uncut events. There were a team of around 8, including an evidence gatherer (distinguished by an orange square with the letters EG), who followed us around town throughout. In addition, there was a police guard on almost every likely target (Vodafone, HSBC, Lloyds etc.) in the city centre. At the end of the day, when many of us ensconced ourselves in he pub, the police even appeared to leave a couple of officers outside to make sure we didn't go back for another bite of the cherry.

Despite this over the top level of policing, we were still able to cause a fair amount of disruption. After a brief stop at Lush to deliver a thank you card (I was as bemused by this as the staff seemed to be) we visited Natwest on Market Square. This was shut when we arrived and remained so throughout the performance of a piece of street theatre about the threat to the NHS posed by the Health and Social Care Bill.

There was a pantomime villain Andrew Lansley (complete with devil horns and a tail), while other protesters took the roles of bankers, patients, doctors and nurses.

I'm not a huge fan of street theatre and it is not an ideal medium for conveying complicated messages. For my tastes, the performance focussed to heavily on the (very real) personal failings of the Secretary of State for Health at the expense of the wider ideological and economic forces which have brought us to the current situation. Nevertheless, I wouldn't have done any better and those involved put in their all.

From Natwest we moved onto the Topshop on the junction of Lister Gate and Low Pavement. The street theatre was repeated again, with the shop closed throughout. The performance was then repeated outside the BHS in Broadmarsh Centre (causing disruption to the Boots next door as well) and then outside Barclays on the junction of High Street and Victoria Street. Protesters made no attempt to get into the bank, but their security shut it until they were sure we'd left, leading to a large queue forming outside.

To my mind four performances was too many. It was notable that our numbers dwindled as we went on. Hopefully this is something that the group will take on board for any future actions. No doubt there's a lot to think about. It is clear that Notts Police have decided they aren't going to stand by and let people occupy shops as has happened in the past. How this impacts on future organising remains to be seen.

Links:

Link_go Notts Uncut

Link_go UK Uncut

Comments

Some ideas

It was a good way to talk to people and cause a bit of minimal disruption to some high street shops. However, maybe lets not tell the whole world next time so the cops don't get there first. Also, chanting 'pay your tax' and shouting 'shame on you' at shoppers is really, really counter productive. It's not their fault!

Response to previous

It was a national day of action called by UK Uncut, there have been articles about it in national press for the last few weeks so not telling the world was kind of impossible! Additionally, if you want people to turn up you have to publicise these events. I think Saturday showed that we are more than capable of disrupting these business without even making any attempt to occupy them.

I don't recall anybody chanting anything at shoppers??

Just putting some ideas out there

"It was a national day of action called by UK Uncut, there have been articles about it in national press for the last few weeks so not telling the world was kind of impossible!"

Yeah sure - sometimes you want a big occasion. But let's keep up the stealth invasions too. As far as the cops are concerned maybe we should make a big deal of the fact that police, paid for by taxpayers, were protecting businesses that hadn't paid their tax?

"Additionally, if you want people to turn up you have to publicise these events."

But there are times when we could just tell our mates about what's going on. It doesn't take many people to close a shop after all.

"I don't recall anybody chanting anything at shoppers??"

It was outside BHS in the Broadmarsh. It seemed like a really stupid thing to do.

Response

Re stealth invasions - agreed. Could you message nottsuncutaction@gmail.com for less public discussion.

Really don't recall anyone chanting at shoppers and agree it is counterproductive and not why we're there. Outside BHS I was busy trying to sort out a missing actor so didn't see that going on.

Just an opinion

Notts Uncut has become pretty much a rickety carcass of what it started out to be. The chants are lame and, as has been mentioned before, they end up sounding like the militant wing of the inland revenue. Notts uncut have been misguided in to thinking that doing such things will get any change OR engage with the public on mass. In the beginning Notts Uncut was brilliant at occupying shops and causing real disruption for the police and the targeted properties. since then the occupations became really short lived and they have ended up meeting on a saturday to wander round town for an hour making a nuisance of themselves, getting nothing done and claiming an empty victory at the end of the day.

saturdays street theatre was badly thought out, did not engage the public by and large and ended up making a lot of the normal uk uncutters feeling very embarrased to be a part of it hense the dwindling numbers as it went on and on and on.
Notts Uncut? better luck next time guys!

Are there trots at work?

"since then the occupations became really short lived and they have ended up meeting on a saturday to wander round town for an hour making a nuisance of themselves, getting nothing done and claiming an empty victory at the end of the day."

sounds like a trot group must be involved. they usually jump on whatever looks like the latest bandwagon and try to recruit members before disappearing once something new comes along.

.....

@Fortnum it would be nice to have some new chants, any suggestions? As for occupying, my experience has found that we get shut off from the public i.e. doors are closed. Saturday's action was a different approach to conveying the message. I enjoyed it, but respect your opinion. Your comments lead me to believe, that you have innovative ideas for our next action. We are a co-operative and all ideas are welcomed, please email the above address.

Response

@uncutter2 - it may be the case that they get cut off from the public, but as a 'co-operative' Notts uncut do not engage with the staff of shops they are occupying or the staff of the banks. my personal opinion is that so as to cause as much disruption as possible there needs to be long term occupations of shops i.e all day until the close for the day. street theatre will never get the message across to business or the public especially when narrated by a loud hailer with more feedback audible than anything else. As for the notion of it being a co-operative, when do notts uncut hold their meetings to decide actions because i've been on nearly every action so far and never been consulted on where we go or what we do not to mention never being invited to a meeting if they even exist.

Let's get a consensus

May I suggest that we don't have this discussion within the public forum as it tends to make us look divided and weaken us.

If there are uncutters out there who are disilusioned with current tactics then the place to air these views is within the uncut group not the media.

I would suggest that we arrange a large group meeting to canvass opinion of all of our group and attempt to democratically reach consensus regarding objecives and tactics rather than engaging in a public bunfight.

We must value the opinions of all of our group but only by engagement can we establish which opinions are held by the majority and move forward in a united manner.

Stop Kidding yourselves

I agree with Fortnum, I have never been invited to a planning meeting or a discussion meeting, or ever heard of one for that matter. Notts uncut seems to be controlled by the labour-ites, trots and trade unionists. Any other people rarely get a say in what goes on at all. telling us not to air our opinions in public is very dictatorial in style. If there are problems with in the group they need to be discussed openly not hidden away and airbrushed out like stalinist purges.

fix up uncut!

Let's get this sorted

Notts Uncutter.

Please read my comment again. I'm not telling anybody to do or not do anything.

What I am doing is conceding that planning has been too centralised and that it needs to be extended to the whole group. A requirement that I am now trying to facilitate.

In my opinion and and please note it is an opinion not a dictate (which I am in no position to make) a group meeting is the best place to air our differences. Its unfortunate that there have been few such meetings in the past, but sadly, the past is unchangable, we need to look to the future.

Rather than trying to "airbrush" over problems I have several practical rather than political reasons for suggesting that a better forum is found for discussing these problems:

1) We all post here under the veil of anonymnity. Any one of us, myself included, could be a right wing agitator or an agent of the businesses which we are targeting (I'm not leveling any accusations, I actually beleive that everybody here is genuine but we can never be too careful) In a meeting discussions would be between real people with personalities and faces rather than just words on a screen

2) We need the opinions of the whole group rather than those who choose to comment here. The "problems" alluded to might just be the grumblings of a disilusioned few or they might be the tip of a much bigger iceberg. Until we get together we won't know.

3) All information on this site is in the public domain, which means that our enemies as well as our friends can read it. If they see even a hint of a rift then they are likely to try to use it to drive wedge between us (If vodafone were engaged in a public spat how quicky would we ram it down their throats?)

The previous poster told us to "fix up uncut". I can't but we can, all of us, working together.

We'll get a meeting arranged and anybody wanting any input into the location agenda etc. is more than welcome to contribute either through our facebook group or via direct e-mail.

All that I respectully ask is that we stop throwing grenades at one another, leave behind any personal, political, tactical or idealogical baggage, get together and talk face to face as human beings all commited to the same cause. Only then can we fix the bad, build on the good and make the next event the best yet

Pete W (The ugly one in the white coat in the pictures above)

Notts Uncut response

We have listened to and discussed your comments.

Traditionally Notts Uncut have not held formal meetings as we prefer to "do" rather than "talk about". We have had just one planned meeting and the turnout consisted of nobody other than a handful of regulars. We tend to discuss plans and ideas in the the pub after an action in a very casual setting that anybody is welcome to attend.

We can assure you that this group is not controlled by "trots", "labour-ites" or "trade unionists" (although some of us are trade union members). Notts Uncut is not controlled by anybody. We are a diverse group of people and have tried to involve anybody who wants to be involved - clearly some people have not felt able to be involved to the extent they would like to have been and we can only apologise that we did not seem approachable enough to talk to at any of the actions you have attended. Any planning is done on an informal basis either through chats in the pub or through social networking - and in the absence of any official membership we had hoped that this would be sufficient.

However we have taken your comments on board and have decided to call another planning meeting. This is on Saturday 18th June at 2.30 in the Arboretum, near the bandstand. We would love you to attend and bring your thoughts and ideas with you.

As an additional, please do remember that the people who have planned the actions in Nottingham so far have put a huge amount of work into this. We are all people with jobs, studies, families and lives and are spending a vast amount of our limited free time putting these actions together and trying to spread the word. If we don't always get it 100% right it's not through lack of trying. Far from trying to exclude anybody we would love more people to be involved - if for no other reason than to share the load a little!!