David Allen Green is a man with a fine lawyerly mind, but you wouldn’t want him to decide strategy for your campaign. He says UKuncut are choosing “the wrong targets”.
This ignores a basic campaign strategy if you’re trying to highlight an important issue: go for the most high profile target / example. That ensures the issue is much more discussed and debated, and therefore influences public opinion on the issue.
For years, campaigners for better workers rights in China didn’t focus on the Chinese govt or those who owned local factories – they focused on shaming Nike or Gap. And it worked.
And there is plenty of evidence to show that UKuncut’s focus on high street companies such as Vodafone, Topshop and now Barclays have forced tax avoidance on to public agenda agenda. It has also forced the HMRC to react in response.
So while this may be a logical piece of advice, but it is not the most astute or tactically useful piece of advice to any campaign.
This point is aside to whether you think tax avoidance is ok or not; it is purely about strategy. I’ve written a separate article with four reasons why tax avoidance harms our economy, including enabling terrorism.
Update: David further claims that UKuncut have had no impact other than “getting on telly”. This further misunderstands the campaign in several ways.
First, there has been a tangible impact on the HMRC. Secondly, part of their aim IS to raise tax avoidance as a widespread practice in the media. So, “getting on telly” is an entirely important part of that campaign, as it getting the Daily Mail on side to highlight corporate tax avoidance.
Third, as I keep pointing out, corporate tax avoidance is far more pernicious and widespread than personal tax avoidance.
Rumbold’s update: UKuncut’s claim that Barclays paid 1% tax has now been debunked.
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Filed in: Economics