The unfortunate CS gas incident ended up helping @UKuncut


by Sunny
1st February, 2011 at 10:48 am    

Owen at Third Estate complains that focusing on the CS spray incident at the last UKuncut protest detracts from the real issue of tax avoidance.

That is unfortunately the way it goes. The protest needed a different angle and the CS gas incident provided it.

The problem for UKuncut now is that media coverage and interest will offer diminishing returns. They were interested initially and talk about the ‘social media protests’ and then they move on once the story becomes old or repetitive. I’m not blaming them – as an editor I would do exactly the same.

Without the CS spray incident, I bet coverage of the UKuncut protests would have been minimal. Hoping that the media will stick to “discussing the issue” is wishful thinking I’m afraid. They are not going to report every month that some protesters shut down Topshop, Boots or Vodafone.

Going forward, UKuncut need to think not just about new targets, but also new tactics and new imaginative stunts. Without that the media coverage will eventually drop off to zero. Unfortunately that is how the news media works.

PS – Ellie Mae has written a long but excellent account of what happened around the incident. Sympathies go out to people who got sprayed because I’ve had it done to me and its ugly.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Media






17 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : The unfortunate CS gas incident ended up helping @UKuncut http://bit.ly/fUpGrW


  2. Soph

    Good pt RE editorial/news values RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The unfortunate CS gas incident ended up helping @UKuncut http://bit.ly/fUpGrW


  3. Ceehaitch

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The unfortunate CS gas incident ended up helping @UKuncut http://bit.ly/fUpGrW


  4. Jan Bennett

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The unfortunate CS gas incident ended up helping @UKuncut http://bit.ly/fUpGrW




  1. Tuz — on 1st February, 2011 at 11:07 am  

    you have a point, however the newsnight piece was already scheduled before the weekend’s events, so i don’t think you’re right in saying that the coverage would have been minimal. different angles are needed though, i think the issue of retail tax avoidance has been put on the map. there are plenty of other alternatives to the cuts…

  2. Rumbold — on 1st February, 2011 at 1:25 pm  

    This is a disagrace. People have the right to protest peacefully.

    Sunny:

    As you are close to UK uncut, can I clear up a few things with you? The case against Vodafone centres around them not paying UK tax on German operations, with the justification being that their headquarters are in the UK so they should pay tax there. The case against Boots centres around them paying tax on UK operations in Switzerland, and not the UK. So the case against one company is that they are paying tax in the country of operations rather than headquarters, and the case against the second is that they are doing the opposite. Or am I misunderstanding something?

  3. MaidMarian — on 1st February, 2011 at 1:39 pm  

    Sunny – from that link you put up.

    ‘The benchmark of a civilised society is how it treats its poor, its sick, and indeed, its protesters.’

    Problem with that is that by that account, the protesters were being treated in a civil way until *something* (I wasn’t there, I don’t know) set off a chain of events.

    It is true that a civilised society allows free speech. It is clear from this account that that was allowed. The rights to free speech were not crimped, and quite frankly one could say indulged if this is correct.

    ‘Boots was closed, and there were other tax dodgers still trading. So they took off to Vodafone, which obligingly shut down, to BHS, and then to Topshop.’

    The problem Sunny is that these people seem to have gone rather beyond civilised free speech. These people held a protest, from this account, they were not prevented from doing so. Wanting to do it in the shop itself is demanding not the right to protest, but the right to force one’s self to be heard. That is a very different thing.

    It may very well be that there are good arguments to be made here, but the, ‘civilised society,’ line doesn’t strike me as one of them.

    Anyway, I expect douglas clark will be along to shriek at be before long, so I’ll take my leave.

  4. damon — on 1st February, 2011 at 1:52 pm  

    Owen, in the linked article, makes some good points.
    But this, in a reply in comment 3 is not good politics.

    But is this press worse than no press? Well…i’m undecided. We gained about 800 twitter followers after the CS spray, and ignited lots of discussion about police behaviour and tax avoidance over the social network…

    Twitter followers ;)

    This though at comment number 4 was more worthwhile I thought.

    Owain highlights the problem I have with the UKUncut campaign. Businesses should not be blamed for hiring clever accountants to exploit tax loopholes, it is the tax authority that leave these loopholes open which should be targeted if anything.

    So why is it high street stores they are super-glueing themselves in the high street instead of HMRC? Higher visibility, for which I am sympathetic, but empty words from passers by is still several steps away from capturing the general public’s imagination over the issue. I speculate that is was one officer’s over zealous attempt at crowd dispersal and the resulting cried of injustice which made this a story in the media at all.

    Unless we see some fresh ideas soon, I believe UKUncut will become just another victim of diminishing returns.

  5. Chris Whitrow — on 1st February, 2011 at 5:06 pm  

    I was not present at the UK Uncut action on Sunday, due to other commitments, but I’ve been on their previous actions and I know the people involved, including one of those who had to go to hospital. First, I can assure everyone that UK Uncut activists are an extremely mild-mannered bunch who have never advocated or indulged in any violence or vandalism. We do seek to occupy and picket stores, in order to make a point. When asked to leave a store, we generally do so, as we do not wish to provoke unnecessary confrontation by trespassing (which is a civil law infringement but not a criminal act). These protests have struck a chord with the public and have attracted widespread support from passers-by. We do not need to ‘force ourselves to be heard’ (MaidMarian take note).

    To be fair to the police, our relations with individual officers have, until now, been quite friendly. On Sunday, it appears that one officer in particular decided to make an unprovoked and unnecessary assault on a group of peaceful protesters. This followed the unnecessary arrest of another protester who had accidentally dislodged a bit of rubber seal whilst posting leaflets through a door. Of course, as Sunny says, the ludicrous over-reaction of a minority of police officers is having a disproportionate but positive effect, in terms of attracting enormous extra publicity to the issues:

    @Rumbold: You are incorrect. Vodafone’s unpaid tax liability is for interest payments on offshore accounts set up in Luxembourg to help finance the purchase of Mannesman in Germany. The accounts were set up by Vodafone’s UK operation and are therefore liable for UK tax. This tax liability has nothing to do with profits made by Vodafone’s German operation: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/vodafone-tax-evasion-revenue-customs

    As far as Boots are concerned, the fact that their tax avoidance wheeze is legal does not make it morally justifiable. Until recently, it was also legal for a man to rape his wife. Some laws need changing, as do tax loopholes.

  6. Chris Whitrow — on 1st February, 2011 at 5:18 pm  

    P.S. These protests will continue, regardless of whether the media takes any notice or not, because UK Uncut is a grass roots, distributed movement which is not very dependent on the oxygen of media publicity.

    We have our own sources of information gathering and dissemination, organised via social media which we control ourselves. Note that a media blackout in Egypt has not been successful in stemming the tide of popular revolt there.

    The rules of the game have changed. I would accept that some attention from the ‘old media’ is always helpful and that we need to remain dynamic and creative, to keep changing our tactics, if only to keep opponents guessing and ourselves amused. Old-style ‘publicity stunts’ are not necessarily what we’re about – although they may have a place too :)

  7. jeffm — on 1st February, 2011 at 7:39 pm  

    Ah the irony of people who have never paid any income tax protesting about tax avoidance

  8. Tuz — on 1st February, 2011 at 8:24 pm  

    @jeffm

    I would hazard a guess that the 60-year-old man and three women aged 70, 47 and 43 arrested in Lewes at the UK Uncut Boots protest have paid a lot more income tax than most…

  9. john P reid — on 1st February, 2011 at 11:06 pm  

    good one .jeffm

  10. Sunny — on 2nd February, 2011 at 2:45 am  

    Ah the irony of people who have never paid any income tax protesting about tax avoidance

    oh jeez, do you trolls have nothing useful or intelligent to say?

  11. damon — on 2nd February, 2011 at 3:17 am  

    Without the CS spray incident, I bet coverage of the UKuncut protests would have been minimal. Hoping that the media will stick to “discussing the issue” is wishful thinking I’m afraid. They are not going to report every month that some protesters shut down Topshop, Boots or Vodafone

    If this is all the OP can offer, then no wonder there are people who get called trolls.
    It sounds like Sally on Liberal Conspiracy.

  12. Rumbold — on 2nd February, 2011 at 9:08 am  

    Chris Whitrow:

    Thank you for clearing that up.

  13. Chris Whitrow — on 2nd February, 2011 at 6:20 pm  

    @jeffm: I have worked and paid taxes for the past 20 years, in common with most of the other people I know in UK Uncut. Why do you think most of our actions are scheduled for weekends? Perhaps I’ve even paid more tax than you have? Probably more than Sir Philip Green has, anyway. :)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.