It’s disconcerting when you think you agree with George Osborne.
After a Saturday afternoon spent happily occupying, listening to comedy and having my beloved banner ripped to shreds inside Barclays Bank I was exceedingly pleased to see the wonderful day of action by UKUncut had picked up quite some press coverage. What surprised me, and i’m sure many others, was the headline ‘Protestors and Osborne agree over bank taxes’ in The Independent. Had George finally rejected his old ways and occupied a branch of Barclays in his rural Cheshire constituency? Had he come over to the idea that the rich have a moral obligation to pay more tax than the poor? Or had he, casting off the shackles of his past, painted a banner with Mrs Osborne and the little Osbornes and marched with local people fighting to save a library or a public service sick of watching billions of pounds disappear through corporate tax avoidance and evasion?
Had he fuck.
George Osborne agreed with protestors this far: Barclays didn’t pay enough tax…and that was about it. He then went on to peddle his misfired and almost entirely toothless bank levy. Well, let’s be honest, it would of been terrifying if he had agreed with us really.
The point of all this, of course, is not to point out that I have disagreements with the way in which George Osborne runs the economy. With announcements this week that Inflation was over 5.1% (RPI index) and with wages in December rising by 2.3% it has become clear that the average Briton has, without being told it in writing, taken a pay cut. The rise in VAT, a policy outwardly scorned upon by The Liberal Democrats before the election, certainly played a part in the rise in inflation. Added to the woes that have been and will be brought about the increasing gap between pay rises and inflation is the once feared and now very real rise in Youth unemployment to over 20%. We are as a nation, and let us not be mistaken , now poorer, less employed and angrier than we were two years ago. So no, the point is not to say I disagree with George, even though that’s what i’ve just done.
The point is this. People up and down Britain are getting angry and they’re not just marching down their local high streets, they are closing them down. No longer are we being accused of being anti-corporation for the sake of it. The British seem to be awakening to the fact that when a company, like Barclays, makes £4.6bn and pays only 2.4% tax on it while the rest of the country feel the squeeze, we have a right to turn their stores into comedy clubs. UkUncut won’t remain relevant forever but it will evolve, grow and adapt to the problems that we are sure to face. As unemployment bites, more banks announce their huge profits and our services for the elderly and disabled are hit hard, we have every right to sit ourselves down in our high street outlets and make them into a public space of our own.
I mean. You just have to laugh, or else you might cry.