This week we participated in a two-stage protest, starting at the Council Chambers on the Royal Mile, where Edinburgh Uncut gathered to support families and teachers campaigning against the closure of two local nursery schools. If these closures go ahead, then Edinburgh will be left with only 14 council-run nurseries to serve the high demand for places, which already sees many families forced into expensive private sector provision. This is just one example of how government cuts are damaging front-line services in our local area – and in this case it’s working parents with young children who suffer.
As the nursery protest drew to a close, we used our shiny new megaphone to lead a march to Princes Street, where we had heard that Big Society Revenue and Customs’ repossession officers would be paying a visit to Topshop – owned by tax-dodging government advisor Philip Green – to make some stern enquiries about the monies owed. Armed only with clipboards, high-visibility vests, and a roll of red and white tape, BSRC efficiently set about their task of seizing the store, but sadly they were obstructed from their official duties by Topshop managers and the Police. They claimed that the tax-collecting activities were a nuisance, and could be considered a breach of the peace. BSRC officers responded to these allegations with complaints that they were “alarmed and distressed” by Philip Green’s behaviour, and suggested that he should be investigated instead.
Meanwhile, outside on Princes Street, more volunteers unfurled banners and started providing information to the general public. As usual, our actions got quite a bit of attention, as shoppers stopped to watch this group of concerned citizens giving up their spare time for the benefit of the community.
BSRC officers were ejected from Topshop, but, undeterred by this brief setback, moved on to Vodafone in Princes Mall. This previously undiscovered tax dodger had been lurking in a shopping centre basement, but our diligent volunteer tax inspectors found them out!
After a few hours of hard work, scouring Edinburgh’s streets for tax avoiding companies, we decided to call it a day and get some lunch. But our friendly local police force weren’t content to stop there, and escorted us all the way across town, then kept us company from the next table while we all had some curry. They seem like a decent bunch, and eventually we struck up a conversation with them, discussing such topics as the possibility of their union holding a protest (which we support), and the basic principles of anarchism (which they thought sounded pretty sensible). While the police have to remain neutral on the protest actions themselves, they were very appreciative of our post-protest activities, and have requested that we go back to the Mosque Kitchen again the next time their boss tells them to follow us around for the rest of the day.