What is it like at a UK Uncut demonstration? What do they stand for? What do they think? What are they like to talk to? I set out to find out. I had an opinion in advance, like Richard Carey I was not fond of them. You could say I was looking for problems with them and had made my mind up, perhaps so, but it was not hard to find problems.
As you can see, I found they were actually fairly civilised and put up a good argument when I debated them. Debating them alone was hard going though. Obviously this video focuses on the gaps in their thinking, but they are not stupid. They just haven’t considered all the alternatives or properly thought through what they are doing.
They have managed to undermine the rule of law in this country by pressuring a company active here into paying tax at a rate decided by them, not by law. You might argue that Starbucks already did that, and their dishonesty is part of their problem, but before it was between them and the tax man, now it is a matter of mob rule. This mob is quite civilised, but it can only get worse.
I’m not sure if UKUncut really think about this in a deep way, but advocating for the force of the state to be applied, other than in self-defence, is fundamentally aggressive. They probably see themselves as just talking and “exercising their right of protest”.
Of course, it isn’t universally true that UK Uncut are civil. I was at Vigo Street, but there were people who wanted to violently force their way into the Conduit Street store and even the spokesperson in the store seemed to be being deliberately loud and disruptive in a way that she must have known would have stopped the business trading. There is an interesting philosophical diversion to be had about whether that kind of stoppage, which seems to need force to be resolved, is force as much as tax is, but it isn’t pretty in any case. Vigo Street was also closed and I know they got into the store, but have no idea if it went down the same way.
The main problem I have, and what the video focuses on, is that the numbers don’t stack up. Their avoidance loopholes would save 15% of the deficit if they were closed, but it would take 115% cuts, relative to the deficit, to pay off the accumulated debt in 37 years. Thirty seven years of services being trimmed will not work, I appreciate why they fear that, but what we really need is radical pro-growth policies and alternative sources of funding wherever it can be done. Democracy has failed to run its bank account properly. We need to bail it out, pay off the debt, and cut the responsibilities which we entrust to its institutions.