Anti-cuts day of action in NottinghamTagged as: austerity cuts education fees students tax tax_avoiders university vodafone
Saturday 4th December was a de facto day of action against cuts in Nottingham with a demonstration against tax avoiders and a student protest running into one another.
I turned up at the Market Square at 1pm for the student demonstration, by which point the demonstration against tax avoiding corporations had already been going on for an hour (although I spoke to a couple of people who had turned up for the originally advertised start time of 12 noon and been hanging around for 2 hours). The tax avoiders demo marched in, having already visited Vodafone, and presumably others.
As the assembled throng came into the Market Square, they were chanting, "They say cutback, we say pay tax," quite possibly the single least inspiring slogan I've ever come across. There was then an extended period of milling about, before people decided to march around the Market Square. With the "Victorian Market" inhibiting our ability to do a complete circuit we ended up going down Cheapside and turning left onto Clumber Street.
Inevitably, this took us past Vodafone and begun the first chant of "pay your tax," a refrain which would be repeated - ad infinitum - over the course of the march. From their we made our way down to Parliament Street and along the side of the Victoria Centre. At this point, people went into Boots (another high profile tax avoider) and began chanting, before continuing into the Viccy Centre.
Here people went into Topshop (part of the Arcadia Group owned by government adviser Philip Green, who has put the company into his wife's name so as to avoid paying tax) for some further chanting and then onto another Vodafone store. This was closed and the target of an extended period of chanting.
From here, people made their way outside and then around the Victoria Centre, back past Boots (this time closed by staff) down to the Tory Party offices for some more shouting. Then we returned to Market Square, briefly disrupting Parliament Street and again coming past Vodafone on Clumber Street.
The march ended at Byron House with a planning meeting, although protesters were informed by the police escort who had been unable to stop anything so far that anybody who kept their banners up after they left the square would have them confiscated.
This was an interesting demonstration: sizable, militant, but also confused. I was struck by the fact that very little of the chanting was led by students with other activists controling the megaphone. They perhaps can take some blame for the unimaginative, incessantly repetitive chanting. Before the next demo, somebody should invest in a new chant sheet.
To my mind what should have been a protests against education cuts and the imposition of higher fees was dominated by the demands that companies "pay your tax." As somebody who would think nothing of tax avoidance if I thought I could get away with it, I can't help feeling this misses the point and turns a useful propaganda point (multinational corporations are getting multi-billion tax breaks while the government is slashing services) into a demand we have no chance of achieving.
Certainly, there seemed to be widespread bemusement amongts Christmas shoppers as to what we were protesting about. For all most people will know, we were simply the direct action wing of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Polls consistently show that people don't like the cuts but have bought the lies that they are necessary. It does us no favours to imply that if only a handful of dubious corporations paid more tax the poor Tories wouldn't have to cuts all these services. They obviously don't want to.
Despite my reservations about the demo, the meeting afterwards was positive and suggests that there is a real comitment to take the movement forwards. Nottingham may not yet have its own Millbank, but things are definitely happening.