Sunday, 31 October 2010

Down with this sort of thing Pt II

The Vodafone protest is the best protest of the decade. End of.

1) It has a nice, clear, recognisable well-defined target - Vodafone
2) It has a nice, clear, easy to understand and readily achieveable objective – getting Vodafone to pay up what’s claimed to be its real £6bn tax bill
3) It is neatly linked into the current political-economic situation – Vodafone paying this supposed tax bill will reduce the pressure to cut public spending
4) It has a clear and motivational moral imperative – fairness
5) It has potentially much broader ramifications such as the tax law surrounding all this and associated processes would be/are open to potential scrutiny, other companies may be reassessed, the links between big PLCs and the political process/politicians (e.g. the anti-file sharing legislation rushed thru parliament shortly after Peter Mandelson met David Geffen in Corfu), etc.,

Because of all this it won’t get the same coverage as say the US Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear and will probably fade away quite soon. This is for various reasons including it’s too practical and dull, it cuts through the political process and associated media superstructure, there's no need for any self-serving pseudo-psephological “analysis”, it lacks any ultimately dumb big ideals for liberals to cheer about and there are no headline grabbing personalities involved either. Plus Vodafone's corporate communications department will be working their guts out to kill the story.

Ideally, what's needed is for Simon Cowell to get involved on the protestors behalf, mebbe even Jordan or worse case scenario the percussionist from Radiohead, anyone but Billy Bragg basically. Except they won’t.

Nov 5th P.S. - seeing as its Guy Fawkes night and all that says about burning effigies and bastards more generally it was interesting to listen to the ace File on 4 programme about tax dodging PLCs, which made specific reference to Vodafone stating "Vodafone agreed a £1.2 billion tax settlement for Luxembourg
and related tax disputes dating back fifteen years. That’s a lot of money but it’s a billion pounds less than Vodafone had provided for in its accounts"
, that provision signalling the potential bill could have been higher than what was eventually paid if not quite £6bn or whatever. Of course prudence (for which read caution) would dictate sticking a big number in the accounts, so the £1bn extra is no more than indicative, but even so.

Was also interesting to read about people being done by police for protesting outside a Vodafone shop in Brighton on the grounds that their refusal to leave constituted a threat to "public disorder and intimidation", i.e. they were presumably successfully stopping people buying mobile phones from Vodafone.

So a big PLC would seem to have successfully bilked us all out of however many millions of pounds and in return taxpayer funded police arrest taxpayers for complaining about it?

Dec 9th P.S. Brilliant!!!!!!! I was totally wrong. So sure on Saturday there the BBC didn't even name the "organisation" behind it in its initial reports about the latest Vodafone protests, but allova sudden what's now called UK Uncut is actually gathering a head of steam, geting some rather lovely attention on radio 4's today programme and there's a new mass protest planned for Dec 18th. Last shopping day before Christmas and sales are going to be blocked at arcadia and vodafone stores. Utterly, utterly brilliant and the best political development of the decade.

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