How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage?


2:28 pm - January 22nd 2011

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contribution by Tim Hardy

PR companies are bringing in “big guns” to protect their clients from UK Uncut and as part of their strategy they plan to use “threat detection” software.

This is an interesting development. By tweeting we are always visible and we make our networks of influence visible. Our meetings are in public, coordinated by hashtags that let people find us.

It wouldn’t take a degree in computer science to work out who are the most important people to influence or discredit in order to have the greatest impact on the movement. Although UK Uncut has no leaders it would be naive to suggest that some people do not have more influence than others.

What is sure is that “threat detection” software that follows a few key twitter accounts and data mines them for certain hashtags will guarantee that we can no longer rely on surprise and that the few previously sympathetic journalists to take an interest will be joined by more hostile voices with a brief to discredit us and distort the truth.

Another tactic they might choose is to poison the well. They could flood social networks with false information, using fake twitter accounts. A thousand virtual Mark Stones will friend and follow then try to discredit us. Levels of abuse and noise will only rise during future twitter meetings.

While there is comic potential and publicity to be found in deliberately generating false trails and hiding in noise, there is the danger that the movement hardens into a fixed group that knows what is real and what is a joke while others who wish to join in are as confused as those paid to spy.

Instead, let’s try make our meeting tags hard to subvert. While right wingers may be quite happy to type anything if it gives them the chance to troll, an army of corporate shills can’t flood a discussion with #VodafoneSteal without strengthening our message and angering their clients.

Knowing they are watching should help remind us of this and let it inform our every action.

We are involved because we care. We love the NHS, we love the education system, we love our forests. We love living in a society that cares for those who through no fault of their own at times are unable to pay for shelter, for food, for clothing, for transport, for medication. We were all young.

Many of us will grow old. Any one of us can become disabled through illness or injury at any moment. All of us benefit from a society that values education.

Knowing that the masters of corporate propaganda are watching, ready to smear us and misrepresent us, can keep us sharp and remind us why we are doing this so that we keep reminding them.

And when they finally realise that we are in fact speaking for most of the customers of the brands they represent they will go back to their employers and suggest that, ultimately, paying their taxes will be cheaper than engaging in a long struggle they will never win.


Tim Hardy has started a new blog called Beyond Clicktivism to focus on real world activism through online tools.

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Reader comments


1. Farty Foulke

If I were you I would recruit people to act as double agents. Infiltrate the agencies, report back their info, then sell the inside story and expose their tactics.

Having said that, if they rely on ‘threat detection software’ they’ll be f***ed anyway.

I wonder if one of you lot at UKUncut can help me out here.

You’re protesting about both Vodafone and Boots, right?

The Vodafone thing is that the company was making money in Germany, selling phones and air time to Germans in Germany. You argue that they should be paying UK tax on this.

The Boots thing is that they’re making money in the UK, by selling things in the UK to people in the UK from shops in the UK. You argue that even though they’re a Swiss company, they should be paying tax in the UK on this.

Umm, how can you be arguing both? I can get arguing that you should pay tax where you make your money: and I can get arguing that you pay tax where the company is HQ’d. But I can’t see how you can argue both at the same time in opposite directions.

So, as I say, can someone help me out here? Explain this to me?

Now this is more like it. More articles like this and fewer like this, please!

I certainly don’t like the prospect of double agents, UKuncut itself shouldn’t fight espionage with espionage in my opinion. Frankly, I’m not sure it would win.

A greater degree of centralisation is what would be needed is my fear. At the moment UKuncut facilitates smaller groups and grassroots efforts. This is part of the success.

However, having UKuncut as it is now only helps the corporations preempt our efforts and infiltrate meetings. I fear the antidote is to either even less centralised and have local groups act even more autonomously, or be even more centralised!

During this weeks #taxmeet using IRC was suggested, but why should we have to hide in this relatively ancient medium? No, let’s face saboteurs, however we do it!

Aaron John Peters is almost certainly a double agent for the Met, as is Laurie Penny.

@ 3. Tim Worstall

Fairly simple. In the case of Boots, there’s a moral case to argue that if they’re making their money here, they should be paying it here. They’ve chosen a setup that allows them to avoid that, and protests therefore aim to highlight that they’re making use of offshoring to get out of paying tax in the country in which they operate.

But obviously the law doesn’t require that they pay their tax here. Nobody claims they’re acting illegally – just that there’s a moral objection to what they’re doing.

So we accept that from a legal point of view, tax must be paid where your HQ is, not where you’re doing business. In which case, it’s also perfectly valid to be angry about Vodafone, who had a sizeable tax bill and managed to negotiate their way out of it.

It therefore seems that when there’s a moral requirement to pay tax, companies are avoiding it, and when there’s a legal obligation, they’re avoiding that too. Is it not therefore obvious why people would be angry at both companies?

Obviously a fair solution would mean that only one out of Vodafone or Boots would be paying their taxes here – we know we can’t get it both ways. Right now, getting it *one* way would be enough.

“Obviously a fair solution would mean that only one out of Vodafone or Boots would be paying their taxes here – we know we can’t get it both ways. Right now, getting it *one* way would be enough.”

OK, I’m glad someone understands that even if I’m absolutely certain that the vast majority don’t.

“They’ve chosen a setup that allows them to avoid that, and protests therefore aim to highlight that they’re making use of offshoring to get out of paying tax in the country in which they operate.”

The offshoring bit at Boots is a terribly minor part of it. It’s really the leveraged turnover which has reduced their tax bill. They’re paying a huge interest bill, interest is a deductible expense for a business (just as much as mortgage interest is to a buy to let landlord, or interest on buying a new machine for a company) and thus they’re not really making any post interest profits to tax.

It’s a function of their leverage, not their location.

And, of course, the interest they’re paying is taxed when it reaches those who lent them the money: so it’s not even clear that there has been a loss of tax revenue overall anyway.

“So we accept that from a legal point of view, tax must be paid where your HQ is, not where you’re doing business. In which case, it’s also perfectly valid to be angry about Vodafone,”

Again, it’s more complicated than this. There’s a conflict in the law: between the UK’s controlled foreign companies laws and the EU’s freedom of establishment laws. One point being made in accounting circles is that the settlement with Vodafone was exactly because HMRC really didn’t want to have the matter finally decided, which law prevails. No, I don’t insist that is true, only that I think it quite likely.

On the overall thing, while I accpet that you’ve managed to get the crowds engaged, I do think that Vodafone and Boots are in fact two really bad cases. They’re not even tax avoidance, they’re simply obeying the law.

@ 3. Tim Worstall

Well thats it isnt it, despite the attempts to rationalise their approach there is no rhyme or reason to it, it is just the ideologically driven hounding of those who create wealth by those who dont.

These companies have done absolutely nothing wrong, these avenues of avoidance exist as incentives for businesses to invest here and to employ people here, driving growth and progress. These avenues exist to purposely shape businesses behaviour, just like tax is used to incentivise us and shape our behaviour.

When people choose rolling tobacco over cigarettes because its cheaper, they are avoiding tax, when the tax on leaded petrol was hiked above that of unleaded, the people who switched did so to avoid the tax. Road tax is heavily weighted to push us all into tax avoidance and buy smaller more environmentally friendly cars. The list goes on forever.

Tax avoidance is a good thing. Only an economic illiterate would protest against it.

“On the overall thing, while I accpet that you’ve managed to get the crowds engaged, I do think that Vodafone and Boots are in fact two really bad cases.”

By all means, feel free to get involved on Twitter and suggest better examples. All input is warmly received…

Tory trolls may be trying to rewrite history and claim Vodafone tax dodging is an urban myth but all those back issues of Private Eye have a totally different and far more credible viewpoint.

Thank you all for responding. I’ll continue to check back throughout the weekend.

@1. Farty Foulke

Thanks. I wouldn’t be surprised if we do get leaks of info from people working in PR and journalism who are sympathetic. I’m with @5. Wail Qasim in that I don’t think it would be the right thing to do and even if it were I doubt it would work but it’s an interesting idea.

@2. john

Thanks. I think you posted that to beyondclicktivism too. I’ve been out so it’s stuck in a moderation queue. I’ll have a look shortly.

@3, 8. Tim Worstall

Thank you for your question. It doesn’t come as a surprise 🙂

I do have respect for you and your contributions to this site but it’s not on topic here – also please don’t play coy and pretend you’re puzzled and need help understanding.

Anyone who is interested in this particular side-discussion can participate on the thread Tim W posted earlier on his blog: http://timworstall.com/2011/01/19/uk-uncut-blithering-idiots/

I’d also recommend Richard Murphy’s rebuttal: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/01/20/worstall-really-doesnt-understand-tax-unless-hes-hiding-it-well/

I’m not going to engage with this distraction any more here and will ignore any further attempts to do so. I’d rather keep this discussion about the tactics UK Uncut should be taking. I’m sure you understand and will respect that.

@4. Mr S. Pill

If I remember correctly, you wrote a comment recently suggesting people join the TUC mass march: http://righttowork.org.uk/2010/12/tuc-march-for-the-alternative/

I think you said you liked the fact that a lot of “ordinary” people would also be on the march, ie people whose eyes glaze over when nuts like us start talking about politics 🙂

What do you feel about UK Uncut? So far the protests have had a lot of popular support from shoppers who encounter them. How do you think we can get more “ordinary” people involved? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

@5. Wail Qasim

These are really, really good points.

UKuncut itself shouldn’t fight espionage with espionage in my opinion. Frankly, I’m not sure it would win.

Agreed.

I fear the antidote is to either even less centralised and have local groups act even more autonomously, or be even more centralised!

I get the impression this is happening but I could be wrong. The message needs to an extent to be centralised and no one should take part who does not agree with it – but local action does not have to be.

During this weeks #taxmeet using IRC was suggested, but why should we have to hide in this relatively ancient medium? No, let’s face saboteurs, however we do it!

Agree again. Personally I think UK Uncut should be as inclusive as possible, open to as many people who care as possible and I think IRC will deter participation. Far more young people understand twitter than IRC. IRC also makes it easier for users to pretend to be someone else which holds great dangers especially if most of the participants in the conversation are new to the platform. People who have been using twitter for a while have invested in their public identity using that medium, making them more accountable to their words, more likely to speak and act with respect for others.

I also agree that we should face saboteurs. Hiding in virtual cells, for example, will only create a false sense of security if a saboteur infiltrates early on. Besides, this is an open movement about peaceful, eye-catching, theatrical protest. I think we should keep it that way even in the face of growing pressure from corporate interests.

Thank you for these.

@6. The Two Eds

lol.

@7 James

Thanks. I’m not going to engage in Tim W’s debate – see above – although I do like your response.

@9. Dirk

Please have this discussion on Tim W’s blog. Link above.

@10. James, @11 Schmidt

Thanks guys but let’s not feed them.

No doubt they will suddenly jump out some time and claim to be libertarians.

Corporations continued move to become stateless means that govts have to take much stronger action. The free market let it all hang out crap will not work.

Tax to trade is the answer. If you want to trade here you pay a tax or fee to do so If you don’t pay you don’t trade.

The global elite can put a man with a phone and an internet connection at a desk in a small office in some tax exile and call it head office all they want, but unless you pay to trade you can piss off. No doubt the corporate butlers will clutch their pearls at the very notion, but tough.

@14. sally

*hugs* But please, I’ve just got them to go to sleep. Don’t wake them up 😉

@James, @Schmidt, @Sally

Do you think UK Uncut should change it’s strategies and tactics in the face of more organised opposition? Do you have any ideas for dramatic, funny, peaceful, eye-catching protests that can continue to win popular support even in the face of negative PR?

16. The Two Eds

@14

You probably work for the Met, don’t you?

@16. The Two Eds

You just want someone to buy the next round don’t you? Where’s an undercover cop when your glass is empty, eh?

I think it depends to a huge extent on how effective their PR efforts are. My personal feeling is that an agile movement networked over the Internet is always going to be better able to tap into the public consciousness than PR agencies, so long as we stay focussed.

Right now, big businesses are on the defensive, and are responding very reactively to what we’re doing. I don’t think that behaving reactively ourselves in response is likely to be an improvement at this point. If they’re defensive, it’s because what we’re doing is working – I don’t see any need to fundamentally change what we’re doing until it stops working.

That being said, I don’t advocate repeating the same ideas over and over. This movement has benefited greatly from innovative approaches to actions, and it’s fundamental to its continued success (and ability to outsmart the PR companies, who have to wait for our moves) that imagination and novelty continue to be employed to drive public engagement.

As for ideas, I still think there’s a lot of mileage in linking tax avoiding companies to actual cuts – turning Vodafone stores into libraries or Boots stores into hospitals, that sort of thing. I think the trick is in coming up with the next phase of that – as companies are targeted, finding the best fit for a themed action that will create that link between the action and the consequence of tax avoidance.

16 Yea that is right I work for the met.

As you said in Ed Balls and the Tory trap……………………………41 “Sally why are you such an obnoxious cunt?”

Because I work for the met?

@18. James

Brilliant! I think you’re right that an agile movement is always going to move faster than the PR machine. As you say, the key is to stay focussed.

If they’re defensive, it’s because what we’re doing is working – I don’t see any need to fundamentally change what we’re doing until it stops working.

Very good point.

it’s fundamental to its continued success […] that imagination and novelty continue to be employed to drive public engagement. As for ideas, I still think there’s a lot of mileage in linking tax avoiding companies to actual cuts – turning Vodafone stores into libraries or Boots stores into hospitals

This is something that really excited me about the twitter meeting. These are both brilliant ideas and we need many more like this as you say to keep it fresh and exciting – and also really easy for the newspapers to understand.

If a picture of a protest tells viewers what it is about without us needing a single banner or placard to explain our cause then we’re doing well. That’s how news stories are made.

@13 Tim Hardy

Well at least you didnt brand me a gay-hater this time.
All the best to you chaps, youl understand when your trying to set up your own business.

@19. sally

sally, he’s pulling your hair, ignore him.

You get a lot of stick on this site but I like you and I like a lot of what you say. People tease you because you’re passionate and use strong language to make your points – but you have some excellent insights.

I’d like to know what ideas you have for making UK Uncut protests even more awesome in future.

@21. Dirk

Please have another look at the original thread where we clashed. If you thought I was labelling you a “gay hater” I apologise for giving that impression. I do not believe you are homophobic and I did explain that – but you may not have returned and caught the end of the discussion.

If you want to continue that particular thread I’m happy to do so in the comment thread on the original post but not here. Thank you.

Tim, I think humour and embarrassment is the best way to go. If I were you I would analyse a lot of these companies and see how much state funded projects they are using, and then embarrass them about how they don’t like paying tax for these services. For example they get the police to come to their stores yet they don’t like paying for them. They are quite happy to use the roads and such like to move their stuff about.

The fact theyare taking action against you shows they are getting concerned. It is when they ignore you you have to worry.

I’m sick of right-wingers hijacking discussions. This one is about attempts by the right to sabotage orgs like UKuncut.

Any further discussion of tax affairs of particular orgs can take place on others blogs. It will be deleted from this thread going forward.

@24. sally

Thank you sally!

I think humour and embarrassment is the best way to go. If I were you I would analyse a lot of these companies and see how much state funded projects they are using, and then embarrass them about how they don’t like paying tax for these services. For example they get the police to come to their stores yet they don’t like paying for them. They are quite happy to use the roads and such like to move their stuff about.

That’s inspired! Brilliant! Maybe we could make carnival-float-style costumes and dress as delivery vans, post vans, police cars, rubbish vans and surround them with the whole infrastructure that they rely on but refuse to pay for!

The fact theyare taking action against you shows they are getting concerned. It is when they ignore you you have to worry.

Yeah, I know. They’ve stopped ignoring us and they’ve stopped laughing at us. This piece is edited down from my original post. You’ll recognise where I got the title from: “Then They Fight You Then You Win”.

@25. Sunny Hundal

Thank you Sunny!

28. Dick the Prick

There’s definately a case for getting more technology smart as i’ve recently been getting hit by virus’s and stuff and that never happened before. You can almost smell a fucking interweb tax coming. I guess if Tobin’s bank tax is off the table then a tinterweb tax is bollox too. They are fucking weasels, though. Hmm. Always follow the money. Is Murdoch’s little tart walking a good thing or a bad thing and why does Jeremy Hunt have a constant rictus grin? What the fuck is that about? Good luck!

@28. Dick the Prick

There’s definately a case for getting more technology smart

Spot on.

Chris Coltrane did a lunchtime session on Internet Security For Beginners: A Guide To Non-Technical Activists at netroots uk, there’s a video here: http://www.netrootsuk.org/2011/01/internet-security-for-activists/

The Electronic Freedom Foundation who have been talking about this stuff for a very, very long time have an excellent summary of technology activists should be aware of: https://www.eff.org/wp/surveillance-self-defense-international

You can almost smell a fucking interweb tax coming

Agreed – and internet “driving licences”. But I think we have a few years yet.

While looking for that link I found the text of Chris Coltrane’s other presentation at netroots uk – since events were running in parallel it wasn’t possible to attend everything so I missed both of these at the time.

Well worth reading in full but these two paragraphs chimed in with what we’ve been discussing above:

The guys behind the London protests didn’t create a committee who own UKUncut, who issue out commands and orders around the country. Instead, they chose to be non-heirarchical. They’ve created an infrastructure, they “run” a Twitter account, they declare a date, but that’s it. All of the protests around the country are organised autonomously by people who we’ve never even met, who simply share our belief that we wouldn’t need to cut if the rich paid their tax.

So for example, in Oxford they wore cardboard cars and had a grand prix race around all the shops in Oxford who dodged tax. They were in and out so quickly that the police couldn’t keep up, but always there were people giving out leaflets, getting the message out there, while the protesters disrupted those shops ability to trade. And they filmed it, for the internet to watch.

http://chris-coltrane.livejournal.com/408180.html

31. Dick the Prick

Jeremy Hunt’s had the OFCOM report abooot BSkyB and done fuck all except Coulson’s stutted off and Jeremy Hunt’s gibbered about ’20 regional community TeeVee centres’, which everyone’s said are drivel. Couple that with NHS reforms, Local Gov budget deadlines, Inflation figures and Blair at Chilcott….. and give ’em sex, give ’em scandal, give ’em the Johnson & Coulson Show? Ah, getting too oldd. Good week to bury bad news. We need people to be alert and I believe that if we use digital technology then we forfeit coincidence, to some degree as it isn’t chatting to someone. This is record.

@31. Dick the Prick

We need people to be alert and I believe that if we use digital technology then we forfeit coincidence, to some degree as it isn’t chatting to someone.

You’re right. Many don’t appreciate what we’ve lost now that technology is ubiquitous.

This loss of coincidence is part of that. It’s no surprise that there’s a lot of research about trying to engineer serendipity – how we make fortunate discoveries by accident – into online tools, like the software that recommends books to you based on what you’ve read. These are good points about some of the hidden dangers of using the internet: rest assured, I try and keep them in mind while I’m writing at Beyond Clicktivism. Please have a look some time; I’d love you to take part in discussions there.

Right now though, where we’re talking about UK Uncut action, these issues are perhaps a little less immediately important. The technology is just a way to get people out into the streets, meeting strangers, talking to people who don’t know what it is about and explaining why we are protesting.

But you’re right – we must definitely remember to strive to keep that spirit of spontaneity alive in the protests and embrace the excitement and ideas that arise out of coincidence.

Thanks!

In America Comcast has taken over NBC. The deal went through 2 days ago. Comcast are known for their Right wing views. Yesterday they sacked Keith Olbermann. This just another example of the way the Right work. No criticism from the left will be tolerated.

What is interesting is that Olberman was the networks most popular show in news yet they took him down. Beck on the other hand at Fox has lost over 300 sponsors and yet they keep him on. Why? Because it has nothing to do with free markets. It is all about control and propaganda.

It is like a reverse communism. No descent will be tolerated. The corporate elite want it all, and it is no wonder their puppets here are destroying the NHS and the welfare state. These are dark days. We will all be in chains within 30 years.

@33. sally

I wonder if action similar to that of UK Uncut could be used to draw attention to this – in a fun way that doesn’t alienate. Thoughts?

Flash mobs of “Fox zombies” for example. That kind of thing.

But not too alienating. We want to make people laugh not think they’re being ridiculed for the presenters they like to watch – that will just harden their hearts to us.

36. Dick the Prick

I think you lot are too quick to judge little gimps with medium to rare authority as being able to run a piss up in a brewery. I seriously cannot get my head around Cowper-Coles fight with Dannatt. That is cynical shit.

Post 12:

Tim Hardy, excellent post, especially for posting the links to Tim Worstall’s post and Richard Murphy’s rebuttal.

As for Tim Worstall, I suggest that you don’t call people blithering idiots in the future! Or talk about “whining” or people being “gullible, ignorant fools”, or tag your post “idiotaritans” – you might just come across as a tinsy bit arrogant.

Without wishing to have Sunny delete this post I do just want to quickly reply to something that you said in post 8:

“Again, it’s more complicated than this. There’s a conflict in the law: between the UK’s controlled foreign companies laws and the EU’s freedom of establishment laws. One point being made in accounting circles is that the settlement with Vodafone was exactly because HMRC really didn’t want to have the matter finally decided, which law prevails. No, I don’t insist that is true, only that I think it quite likely.”

I don’t see why that is quite likely. I’m certainly no expert on this like Murphy but it seems to me that with HMRC settling in this way, it wouldn’t have mattered much if they had gone to court and lost because they’re only getting a small part of the tax from Vodafone that they should’ve got (and we’re talking about billions here), and perhaps even more importantly is that now every other large corporation will want a similarly cushy deal. And for the record, let my quote a Private Eye paragraph that I quoted back in November:

———-
Vodafone also told the Eye that HMRC “concurred” with it that a 2007 European Court decision (involving Cadbury) meant that “we clearly had no future liability”. Yet HMRC’s own official guidance-notes in response to that case, based on expert legal advice, show that where income is diverted to a tax haven in precisely the way Vodafone did it, “no application [that the profits won’t be taxed] is likely to be granted”.
———-

“On the overall thing, while I accpet that you’ve managed to get the crowds engaged, I do think that Vodafone and Boots are in fact two really bad cases. They’re not even tax avoidance, they’re simply obeying the law.”

Errrr…!!! Well this is where I can come back to the topic of this thread. Firstly, this is the whole point about tax avoidance: it’s legal but against the spirit of the law. Secondly, those two companies, along with HSBC and Philip Green’s shops, are good cases – in Boots’ case they should be paying corporation tax of 28% but instead paid tax of just 3%, and Vodafone avoided up to £6bn in tax. That £6bn alone could pay for a hell of a lot of public sector workers for example. And how is it fair that these large corporations can do this but small companies can’t? Why aren’t you out campaigning for small companies to be let off most of their tax too?

Sunny, I hope you will allow this one post from me on this thread; I promise not to say anything else!

Given that I’m directly addressed here I hope Sunny will allow me to respond.

“you might just come across as a tinsy bit arrogant.”

Excellent, so my writing style does indeed reflect my personality.

“I’m certainly no expert on this like Murphy but it seems to me that with HMRC settling in this way, it wouldn’t have mattered much if they had gone to court and lost because they’re only getting a small part of the tax from Vodafone that they should’ve got”

But there are many other companies in similar situations. And if a case goes to the Supreme Court then that judgement applies to everyone. That’s the way that the Common Law works. Cases act as precedents. And given that there are more companies caught in this difference between the UK’s CFC laws and the EU’s freedom of establishment rules, then HMRC might not (and I repeat, might, this isn’t something I’m insisting is true) want to take the risk of going to the Supremes and then finding that that precedent goes against them.

It is actually possible that by not pursuing Vodafone that HMRC will end up collecting more tax from other companies.

“Secondly, those two companies, along with HSBC and Philip Green’s shops, are good cases – in Boots’ case they should be paying corporation tax of 28% but instead paid tax of just 3%,”

No, Green’s shops are different yet again. There is absolutely no suggestion from anyone that the company, Arcadia, has not paid every single penny due on its corporate profits. This is actually about the fact that Mrs. Green, the legal owner, is not a UK resident or domicile. She’s a South African who lives in Monaco: and there’s no suggestion under any tax laws at all that she whould be paying UK tax on dividends she receives from a UK company. A Frenchman who owns BP shares doesn’t pay UK tax on his dividends so why should she?

And to Boots, no, again, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. Boots did not pay corporation tax of 3% on their profits. Because, given all the interest they’re paying, they didn’t make much in profits.

@37. Matt, @38. Tim Worstall

It’s Sunny’s decision but my vote’s that we give you both a yellow card not a red 😉

Please guys, not here.

I’m not going to engage in your discussion beyond drawing out the following point.

it’s legal but against the spirit of the law

This is the core message we need to get across in our protests.

Hard-core apologists for the right will never give ground on that point – but there are millions of people, many of whom may even vote Conservative, whose opinion will be swayed either for or against us on that point.

If we can think of a way of protesting that explodes the argument “but it’s legal” with ridicule and humour then we’ve won.

Let’s think of ways we can illustrate this through action, costume, slogans, etc.

“it’s legal but against the spirit of the law”

That Boots can subtract it’s interest as a business expense is not against the “spirit of the law”. Interest deductibility has been specifically considered by Parliament a number of times and they decided to continue with it.

Foreigners living in foreign parts are not subject to UK taxes upon their income. This has similarly been considered a number of times.

Finally, whether Vodafone should pay UK taxes on profits made in Germany has similarly been considered a number of times: by the Eruopean Union for a start. It’s one of the basics of the Single European Market that a legal person (corporate or personal) has an absolute right to establish or change residence and or domicile without hindrance.

I agree that all of these things may be against the spirit of the law as you would wish it to be: but that’s rather different from stating that they’re against the spirit of the law as it is.

@40. Tim Worstall

I agree that all of these things may be against the spirit of the law as you would wish it to be: but that’s rather different from stating that they’re against the spirit of the law as it is.

That’s a fair point. “Spirit of the law” has an established meaning. Thank you.

Our protest is against the immorality of the law as we see it (I know you disagree on this: but please, this is not the thread for that discussion).

““Spirit of the law” has an established meaning. ”

Indeed it does. What judges say it is. Before they pronounce we can argue about spirit and letter: when they have done so they are the same thing.

@42. Tim Worstall

That’s a nicely succinct definition. Thanks.

This is why we should avoid the phrase in our protests.

I have to go out now so thank you everyone for contributing and adding to this discussion. Lots of good observations and ideas have come out of this.

If anyone hasn’t done so yet, please have a look at this morning’s post by Sean Gittins,

Ten web tools beyond Twitter and Facebook activists should consider
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/01/23/ten-web-tools-beyond-twitter-and-facebook-activists-should-consider/

I’ll check back later. Please play nice! 😉

“you might just come across as a tinsy bit arrogant.”

“Excellent, so my writing style does indeed reflect my personality.”

He is arrogant to cover up for the fact that he talks bollocks.

I’m going to keep this as brief as I possibly can:

When I referred to Philip Green’s shops what I actually meant was that it was right to target them. I was aware that the tax issue arose because of his wife. What has she done to earn those dividends? The tax avoidance issue here is that Green did the work but paid the money to his wife to avoid tax. If you really don’t understand the issue here then go to this page and click on “Sir Philip Green”:

http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/targets

But if that’s the case that you don’t understand it then I suggest you stop arrogantly thinking that you’re more intelligent than other people. And if you do understand it then stop trying to sabotage UK Uncut’s campaign by fooling new visitors to Liberal Conspiracy.

Regarding Boots, I have read Richard Murphy’s reply to your post you know! So at the very least you should be acknowledging (and preferably every time you speak on this subject) that he has a different view to you on this so you can’t just state something as if it’s fact. The 3% figure comes from the Guardian article he quotes, and he disagrees that the interest incurred on the money borrowed in the takeover should be allowed to be offset against profits.

In answer to the opening post, I don’t know about how to deal with most of the potential threats mentioned, or what exactly you have in mind regarding false information, but a minor thing you can do is to mention that there is information giving the reasons why UK Uncut is targeting certain corporations, on its website. (I only thought of looking after I had written the majority of the above.) I think that the information might need to be modified or expanded a bit but this way you can deal with people like Tim Worstall just by posting a link.

What has she done to earn those dividends?

Owned the company? You are aware how capitalism works yes?

@46. Matt

In answer to the opening post, I don’t know about how to deal with most of the potential threats mentioned, or what exactly you have in mind regarding false information, but a minor thing you can do is to mention that there is information giving the reasons why UK Uncut is targeting certain corporations, on its website. (I only thought of looking after I had written the majority of the above.) I think that the information might need to be modified or expanded a bit but this way you can deal with people like Tim Worstall just by posting a link.

Very good idea. @UKUncut are you listening? Add more information to the site!

I’m not addressing the rest of your comment, although good, for reasons already explained.

@47. Tim J

Ignored. Take it to Tim W’s site.

Tim Hardy @ 34

Okay, just throwing this up to see where it lands. The next time a day centre or school or what ever closes we invite the victims down to a protest at the local Boots/Vodafone outlet with the appropriate banners? Highlight how much it costs to keep that day centre open against the tax avoided?

@49. Jim

That’s a great idea! I love it.

Tim @ 50

Vodafone spend millions on sponsorship deals and advertising in an attempt to look good. Nothing wrong with that, but if we can toxify the brand and make them look like the bad guys, then that money will be spent trying to defend themselves against the percpetion that they are simply greedy bastards who have no soul. Let us see how they cope with seriously ill people outside their shop on a Saturday afternoon, for example. They like it when they can be seen on telly sponsoring sports stars and racing cars, lets see how they respond when the local cancer ward takes a dip in funding.

@51. Jim

Absolutely.

Bottom line: if it costs them less to pay their fair share than it does to pay for a PR campaign to silence and smear their critics, they’ll make the pragmatic choice and cough up.

It doesn’t hurt to keep the pressure up on ministers to stop waffling on about doing something and making vague promises they have no intention of keeping and to start taking action to close loopholes.

Post 47 – Tim J:
>>What has she done to earn those dividends?

“Owned the company? You are aware how capitalism works yes?”

Oh grow up Tim. You’re just doing the same as Tim W by disingenuously (or perhaps you could say dishonestly) avoiding the issue here.

I’ve decided that each time someone tries to sabotage UK Uncut’s campaign (like you are doing in a minor way above) I’m going to post this link:

http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/targets

54. aaron peters

@ The Two Eds Everyone is a copper mate, you are DEFINITELY an operative for the London Met if not Mossad or, failing that, the Iranian revolutionary guard, or perhaps Mubarak….

Good luck driving yourself insane with paranoia.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  2. Adam Vanner

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  3. Geoffrey Pearson

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  4. Double.Karma

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  5. UK Uncut

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  6. Go Away Mum.

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  7. Ceehaitch

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  8. Philippe Nadouce

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  9. Andrew Simms

    Touching, strange article. Recall E Europe states stifling protest?> RT @libcon How could UKuncut deal with sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  10. Dave Plummer

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB #ukuncut

  11. Tim Hardy

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  12. Lesley

    @jfidoesdev Hope groups like these make it work: @UKuncut @libcon How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  13. LazarouMonkeyTerror

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  14. nico phillips

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  15. earwicga

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  16. Jacob Richardson

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  17. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: How could #UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  18. Pamela Heywood

    How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage?: "Instead, let’s try make our meeting tags hard to subvert. … http://twurl.nl/y4iv7z

  19. James Webley

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  20. Tim Hardy

    @lisaansell Seems like only this morning you and I were talking about this – getting some really good ideas generated at http://j.mp/eo0qMK

  21. Lisa Ansell

    RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  22. Rachel

    RT @lisaansell: RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  23. Ryan Bestford

    Corporate war on #ukuncut. Next target the PR firms? – http://t.co/swuFpSr (via @libcon)

  24. Rooftop Jaxx

    RT v@lisaansell RT @libcon: How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB

  25. Kay Gee (initially)

    How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/aLSENov via @libcon

  26. Dan Lee

    RT @thedharmablues: Corporate war on #ukuncut. Next target the PR firms? – http://t.co/swuFpSr (via @libcon)

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  28. Stephen Lintott

    How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? | Liberal Conspiracy http://tinyurl.com/6xz6csa

  29. HeardinLondon

    "Knowing we are watched should help inform our every action" How could UKuncut deal with sabotage attempts? http://bit.ly/eNTcIB via @libcon

  30. 'Quita de Boissière

    How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://t.co/TAhYptd Ideas to bear in mind @brightonuncut action training here in 5!

  31. Broken OfBritain

    How could @UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://fb.me/ylQmQ9jK

  32. noshockdoc

    How could UKuncut deal with attempts at sabotage? http://ht.ly/43h3i #ukuncut we're having an effect when powers start fighting back

  33. Tim Hardy

    @hamishcampbell very interesting post. Wish I had an easy answer. NB wrote something on choice of tags back in Jan http://t.co/fLA7OE6r

  34. hamish campbell

    @hamishcampbell very interesting post. Wish I had an easy answer. NB wrote something on choice of tags back in Jan http://t.co/fLA7OE6r

  35. PlugandPlay

    @hamishcampbell very interesting post. Wish I had an easy answer. NB wrote something on choice of tags back in Jan http://t.co/fLA7OE6r





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