When you arrive for a UKUncut action you often aren’t completely sure where your target is, can’t be certain that there will be more than a handful of people and are never really sure who is a fellow uncutter or just a member of the public (except for the Uncut Heroes of course) and then there is the problem we faced yesterday: your target might get wind of your plans and shut for the day. This is exactly what happened yesterday on UKUncut’s first international day of action.
Success before we have even started? Yes. There were so many branches of, RBS owned, Natwest closed across London that it seems they most certainly got our message and are running scared. But where was the fun in that? And more importantly where was the opportunity to engage with the public on the issue? UKUncut’s bail-ins are not about shutting down the banks but claiming them as public spaces and letting people know that they got us into the mess, we got them out of it and they are long overdue in paying us back. By closing up shop Natwest ran away from us and inconvenienced far more customers than anything we could have done.
So as I stood there in the pouring rain with a couple of fellow uncutters, a confused member of the public and a police van parked across the road, I searching through my twitter feed franticly to find an alternative. Luckily MissEllieMae and the famous Orange Umbrella soon arrived with news of a ‘Plan B’.
“Due to spending cuts the UKUncut comprehensive has had to shut, instead we will be going on a field trip,” said the headmistress before doing a uniform check and quick footing it down Regent Street and on to Oxford Street. Just before we went however, we left our own notes for Natwest.
As we played a game of ‘keep up with the orange umbrella’, questions of “where are we going” spread through the 60 strong crowd of ‘students’. But all was soon to become clear once we saw a fellow uncutter at the doors of Lloyds TSB hurrying everyone in. Shocked staff and customers looked on amused as we sat down for our lessons delivered by folks from Tax Justice Network, Robin Hood Tax, Corporate Watch and The New Economics Foundation. One employee even chuckled and took out his Blackberry when asked by the headmistress to call the CEO!
After only a couple of (very informative) sessions, a police officer (who went by the name of John) spoilt our fun and asked us to move on. We gave one more defiant chant and then moved the lessons outside where we were able to meet up with the Uncut Heroes who had shut down a Natwest and our old friends Vodafone.
Together with the heroes we moved on to another, closed, Natwest and finished off our last few lessons and then wound up back at Regent Street where there was much music, leafleting and discussion with the public.
It just goes to show, neither the rain or closing up shop will deter the UKUncut gang; either mend your ways or prepare to be occupied!
P.S. Left over leaflets were put to good use on some of the Barclays ‘Boris’ bikes.
I still maintain that UKUncut needs to do something with these bikes. they represent both the evil of Barclays and London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson.