By Tim Hardy
Barclays has used a gagging order to silence the Guardian about their tax arrangements but the internet makes a mockery of censorship.
In 2009, Barclays paid merely 1% corporation tax on their record profits of £11.6bn. Bob Diamond – the man who refused to apologise for the crisis caused by the bankers that cost us over £1 trillion – was rewarded for his services this year with a little extra in his pay packet of around £9 million. His bonus alone would pay the salaries of more than 400 NHS nurses.
With both Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives back-peddling on their pre-election promises to control the finance industry and the government choosing instead to penalise the most vulnerable, UK Uncut have decided that enough is enough. We were forced to bail them out, now it’s up to us to Bail In the Banks.
This is what democracy looks like.
In London today a group of us picked a branch at Piccadilly Circus and turned it into a library with a special reading of “The Fat Cat: A Bankers Tale”, a story to horrify even the youngest protester.
Meanwhile another group occupied a branch of Barclays on Tottenham Court Road in Central London and turned it into a stand up comedy club – with a line-up including a special guest appearance by Nick Clegg.
The Financial Times have accused UK Uncut of “banker bashing” but even they cannot fault our actions. The response from the rest of the press and from the general public has been unambiguously positive.
Police on the ground today were calm and clearly amused by our actions. Many expressed support off the record. They are facing funding cut-backs of their own of 25% meaning tens of thousands of redundancies.
But this is not just about tax.
The weapons being used to murder peaceful protesters in Libya right now were manufactured by an industry in which Barclays is the world’s largest investor with over £7.3 billion invested in arms manufacturers.
Next time you’re tempted to chuckle about what a clown Boris Johnson is as you see one of those butchered London Transport roundels distorted to fit Barclays’ corporate image, give that a thought. Having considered where London’s occasional mayor’s priorities lie, ask yourself whether his support for the banks and that one in particular is really such a laughing matter.
This is a movement that organises in public and is open to everyone. Be sure to keep an eye on @UKuncut so you can join us next weekend in Britain as RBS will play host to our fun and games and watch @USUncut rise up for their first day of action.
With protesters in Egypt showing solidarity with protesters in Wisconsin, is it too far-fetched to suggest that ordinary people around the world have finally had enough with the rule of self-serving elites and are using the internet to form a global resistance?