Last Saturday, Brighton Uncut shut down our local Topshop. Despite the presence of 200 police officers, eight cheeky activists successfully managed to super-glue themselves to the inside of the shop’s window display. For four hours, the gluees grabbed the attention of hundreds of passers-by whilst outside, 50 other members of the Big Society Revenue and Customs (BSRC) unfurled a 20 metre banner reading ‘Sir Philip Green – Tax Dodger Extreme!’.
As the rain poured down, the chanting masses proceeded to be kettled and brutalised by an overexcited mob of Brighton’s finest. However, that didn’t stop them getting their message across. Like the Vodafone actions that have been happening around the UK over the past month (including in Brighton), the Topshop action last Saturday put into the spotlight the unbelievable tax frameworks that legally enable the richest to avoid paying billions of pounds of taxes. While the majority of us are left to deal with the consequences of the widespread austerity measures currently being rolled out, individuals like Green are reaping the benefits of a wholly inequitable tax system.
The action was a massive success. We shut down Topshop for the day, made national and local headlines, and showed just how easy it is to expose the hypocrisy that runs clean through the government’s attack on our communities. This is the case more so than ever where the Arcadia Group is concerned (the retail group to which Topshop belongs), since its owner has been appointed by David Cameron to advise the government on how to cut public spending, so-called ‘efficiency’ measures that are anything but.
So why glue?
Staying power! It meant we couldn’t be removed without the use of medical professionals – buying us hours of time to get our message across. It doesn’t hurt, anyone can do it, and it’s a tactic that gets press attention.
The fact that similar actions were taking place all across the country was massively empowering. The UK Uncut movement has brought together Brighton’s social-justice activists in a single show of public fury against the cuts.
The thing we can’t stress enough is just how easy it was to pull off this action. A little bit a planning and a little bit of courage is all it takes. Direct action gets the goods…
This is only the beginning. Brighton Uncut is taking the fight directly to the city’s myriad of serial tax avoiders on Saturday, 18th December. See you at the Clock Tower, 12-noon sharp!