We’ve done amazingly. For shop after shop that we’ve shut down, we’ve had the press and people supporting us. We’ve even had some of the police supporting us. And hey,even the Daily Mail had a positive story on activism, for a change! We’ve shown that direct action works. We’ve also made our point clear – the cuts aren’t necessary because the rich are getting away with it. Phase 1 is completed. We need to move on.
- We cannot win the tax haven argument ourselves – the laws that allow the rich to escape paying taxes are primarily held in the hands of European powers, not only the UK. Shutting down a few shops across the UK does little to sales, especially when these companies own various different brands and companies all across the world. Unless we can build strong links across Europe, our chances of winning tax haven legislation is weak. We need European solidarity, and that is going to take time.
- Any movement cannot stand still. If we repeat the same actions over and over again, people get bored, demotivated, disillusioned and generally stop coming along. They also stop believing in the cause. Then the movement dies, and silence prevails. So we need to keep up the novelty, and keep to a similar message.
All actions need a Clear Purpose
The argument that has been made is that if we change anything about the way that we campaign, we will blur our messaging. I’m confused – was our messaging that ‘tax havens should be closed to protect us from cuts’ or that ‘cuts are just doctrine, and thus not necessary at all’? Frankly, I’ve known tax havens are ridiculous for a long time, they’re just a way of putting the cuts and our so-called deficit into perspective.
I believe that there are three key messages we need to get across:
- The Cuts aren’t Necessary
- Banks & Corporations that caused the crisis are preventing preventative legislation from coming through (because then they lose money)
- Our Economy should be for ALL People not profits, markets or just for the rich.
So, Where do we go from here?
It’s clear that this campaign is about a reformation of the economic system, and not only about the cuts. Apart from decisively showing what we stand for, we need to show for whom we stand. Thus we need to start with a two-pronged approach:
We are a collection of youth. We need to collect more of civil society. We need to go to community groups and speak to them, find out what they want to say on the cuts by listening first, and then incorporating. We need to knock on doors, speak to tenant agents and civil servants to find out who the cuts are hitting hardest. We can’t just show solidarity intellectually – we need to actively engage with those most harshly hit, and stand with them, not for them.
b) Disruptive Education
We’ve closed shops, but that doesn’t speak to everyone. We need to start a program of public education. We need to train everyone in economic theory if they are interested by holding teach-ins outdoors. We need to take over council meetings and challenge councils on every cut they propose. We need graffiti asking questions, like ‘If we spent x amount saving the banks from crashing, why does y gain a bonus of z?’
Hitting the target
Our target is two-fold: corporate/banking sector and government.
We need to sharpen our arrows and start using our democratic vote to create larger acts of distraction.
We need to be prepared to act in response to any cuts. If a hospital is cutting a job, we need to ensure that the Health Department knows we’re not happy about it. If that means going in and causing havoc, if it means taking the press, if it means calling a general strike – we need to be ready to do that. The law may not be on our side, but we have us.
I can’t say what tomorrow will bring or what actions we must do – all I know is that we need to refocus. We cannot let this movement subside. Right now, we have the one chance that we have to change things for the better. Let’s not let it slip us by.