UK Uncut’s latest claims on our attention is due Saturday May 28 – to transform high street banks into NHS hospitals. The action is to highlight that cuts proposed to the National Health Service could be met by removing the annual public subsidy (in the form of free insurance and guarantees) to banks, of up to a staggering £100 billion per year. Hospitals it seems are not too big to fail.
UK Uncut’s previous actions have focused on the link between the amount of cuts to public services the Coalition say are required to balance our National budget and the amount lost to our Exchequer from big UK corporations such as Sir Philip Green’s retail empire and Vodafone offshoring their taxes. A reminder that much of the cuts are ideological as necessity – and that it is largely our tax regime that has seen the gap between the rich and the poor ever widen.
I commend them for bringing important and complex issues to wider attention. They are filling a vacuum left by mainstream political parties who seem ever eager to lean on the poor and show how tough they are on the ‘have nots” whilst at the same time being as accommodating as possible to those “that have”.
I had a knowledge that tax evasion went on in the UK but not the scale of it, not the details of it and not who the biggest culprits are – UK Uncut in their actions have made this common knowledge in a way that an informed and informative article in a newspaper or magazine would likely never have done.
An article in today’s Guardian states a worry that their stunts need to change as otherwise will lose their impact and the interest of the public – becoming like “High Street chanting Hare Krishnas”!
I do not entirely share this view. There is something impactful about an organisation being relentless and repetitious in their actions – like a political signature tune – but I do accept there is a danger that we the public and our media get bored with them for this and shift our attention elsewhere.
Likewise occupying public spaces to inconvenience the organisations they are targeting risks also inconveniencing the customers of those targeted organisations and losing public support they may otherwise have had.
I continue to welcome them though. We live in a parliamentary democracy made more vital and relevant by the role of peaceful protest movements – and now even more so they are needed when Crony Capitalism seems ever more entrenched in our professional political life.