davidfranchi

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London No hits, no cuts, no demonstration juts.

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Thursday, 31st March 2011 – David Franchi

statuacutLondon cuts – There’s a lot to sum up in the aftermath of the “March for the Alternative: jobs, growth and justice”, London. TUC organised, it counted roughly a half million of people protesting against government cuts the last 26th March. The long day started with the assembling of the groups at 11.00am on Victoria Embankment. People were coming from all over the UK and groups were so numerous to be uncountable. It was possible to see every kind of people; shouting children, relaxed pensioned, flower power nostalgias, public uniforms, angry teachers, well-built workers, LGBT group members, and kilted Scottish.

All this variegated people gathered to march, direction Whitehall, ending in Hyde Park, where on the stage paraded artists, unionist, politician and Labour leader, Ed Miliband. The demo was finished around 4pm but people were still arriving in the evening and some of them spent the night in the park.

The intent was to have a pacific march, and TUC did a good job, as also police admitted. However, there were minor groups, counted around 500 people that tried to ruin the biggest demo in the UK since years. Usually members of anarchist groups, they were hiding their faces behind balaclavas (worn during actions and took off later). They were no surprise at all. They did exactly what it was written in their internet sites, even warning, before doing it. It was not difficult to recognised them in the middle of the crowd, black clothed, sprinkled with paint used to colour walls, someone with stick in hand and though stance. But no one touched them, not even after the smashing of the windows and the occupying of the shops.

cutdavTherefore, later in the night they made a mess of the town centre. Police may be given new powers after cuts protest, said home secretary Theresa May, face coverings could be banned and known troublemakers barred from political rallies. Mrs. May added that “on the whole” the police operation was a success; over 200 people arrested and 149 charged, 56 officers injured, 12 of whom needed hospital treatment and 53 harmed members of the public. Needless to say the violence is wrong. It should be an alarm bell as usually people protest to show their unbearable easiness to live.

The violence is not good twice: because it must be recognised before it manifests in rioting and, secondly, as it creates damages. The violence does no good. It should certainly not be romanticised. But the government seems to use it as an excuse for enclosing demos as a law and order matter rather than an issue of politics and economics. Cuts are unfair and are hitting people who really do not need to suffer it. In the opening of the financial year, the public sector has to deal with cuts and higher taxes as not yet directly experienced. In the UK people are slowly facing a sober lifestyle, with years of austerity, wage slashed, job losses and dissolution of some public services. But the absolutely incomprehensible question is: all this for what kind of reason? Bringing the economy into a very painful situation, it may even make things worse.

According to Paul Krugman, the US Nobel prize-winning economist, it is “the austerity delusion”. Ed Miliband said about it: “It’s hurting, but it’s not working.” Cuts will not remove the reasons of the financial crisis, Ireland shows to the world. After has been broadly commended for its drastic spending cuts, the latest official figures published last Thursday, showed that the Irish economy has now been in recession for three years, with domestic demand 27% lower, investment down by 60%, exports are falling than during peak of Celtic Tiger success. The UK government is simply copying and pasting this kind of economics. Therefore people growingly protest and the Con – Dem coalition cannot simply pretend nothing is happening. At least, during the march Mr. Cameron may have listen to all those people booing him when passing in front of Downing Street. No one has failed to do it. However, though the TUC march was a success, Labour has a much bigger job to do.

Ed Miliband cannot suppose that he will be the lasting beneficiary until he is able to create a convincing alternative involving the undecided, as well as those who think of themselves. Besides, the campaign remains confined in the public sector union’s environment. But it seems this is only the beginning and longer marches are expected. Figures show that the deficit grew because the income tax fell and the UK has a debt much lower than other countries. However, the odd couple of Con- Dem coalition responds that there are a lot of people doing nothing and persecute those on benefits as the major problem, claiming there is no money left, blaming Labour.

davcut_3“There are a lot of people that don’t want to work. And especially those foreigners” told me few weeks ago an old lady. So, benefits are stolen by foreigners. In the next months the government will halve the number of jobs in the UK open to non -EU migrants, from 500,000 it will drop to 230,000. That old lady will be happy but probably will not find a hairdresser anymore. And definitely, it seems benefits are a minor problem compared to tax avoidance.

Protesters fought against tax avoidance as well. Banks and shops in the West End area were targeted. At the beginning of the student protests in 2010 they occupied Top Shop, owned by Arcadia Group Ltd, but whose real holders are Sir Philip Green and his wife Tina, resident in the tax haven of Monaco that in 2005 avoided for a sum that is calculated around £1.2 billion. Now, was it a bad mistake for Mr. Cameron to ask to Sir Green to be part of this government? Luckily, Sir Green did not accept or else, instead of his shop chains – Topshop, BHS, Burton, Evans’ and Dorothy Perkins – we could see Whitehall attacked. In these days UK people are happy to see that an influential group of MPs is to investigate corporate tax avoidance.

The committee will raise the political debate around the issue, already under examination after questions over the tax bills of multinationals such as Vodafone £6 billion and Barclays which paid 113 million in corporation tax after making profits of almost £12bn. Some protestors even broke into Fortnum & Mason, later arrested by the police and then charged. But campaigners have claimed senior police officers “tricked” them into a mass arrest after a peaceful protest.

bancacutHowever, when protesters left the luxury Piccadilly store on police instruction, they were kettled, handcuffed and taken into custody. It seems activists claims are backed up by footage shot by observers for the legal volunteer group Green & Black Cross. What is the future scenario? Today, Portugal and Greece were cut from Standards and Poor’s rating with the probability that Portugal would have to follow Greece and Ireland into a bailout, the latter heading to its second one.

The Met introduces new powers to protect the Royal Wedding against the possibility of demos. Opening any newspaper you can read that in February economy shrank; inflation reached 4.4%, retail felt. Family incomes after tax felt by 0.8 per cent during 2010, the biggest fall since 1977 and the first reduction for 30 years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported yesterday.We should, sarcastically, say ‘well done’ if it was not such a gloomy moment. Cuts were appreciated on the canvas of famous Italian artist Fontana, not by people struggling and everyday hardly working to make a living. Betting on the cruel deflationary policies imposed by international lenders, try to flatter rating agencies, just dries up resources of already weak economies.

IMF policies were ineffective many times, can be cited the Zambia case (1980), the Argentina case (1998), the South American Economic Crises (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay -2002), just to name a few. The Con -Dem government should found others way to recover from the worst crises of the last 70 years. It seems clear betting on these remedies is not working. Protests, instead, reached at least the constitution of a committee against tax avoidance.

[photo : David Franchi italoeuropeo]

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/-news/-ue-citizens/london-no-hits,-no-cuts,-no-demonstration-juts./

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Written by davidfranchi

April 3, 2011 at 12:59 am

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