The Norfolk People’s Assembly staged a mobile protest throughout the city of Norwich on Saturday afternoon (June 14th). The demonstration, which came as part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut, targeted Vodafone stores in particular, after the communications giant admitted it paid “little to no income tax” in the UK.
At a time when many ordinary people are scared and angered by spending cuts to public services, education and the NHS, the event in Norwich seemed to capture the mood of the public. Some passers-by commented that were they to behave in the manner of Vodafone they would be “locked up”, whilst others congratulated the local anti-cuts activists for taking a stand. However, the welcome was not all friendly.
One protestor found herself targeted by in-store security before the People’s Assembly even arrived – and was led by both arms from the shopping centre after being told “we want you out now.” One elderly woman who witnessed the events said it was “disgusting what they did,” before thanking the activist for her efforts.
The city centre was quickly buzzing with discussions on taxation and spending cuts
She and the rest of the group were undeterred though, and what followed was a spirited display of resistance, as students, workers, children and pensioners collectively toured the Vodafone stores of the Castle and Chapelfield malls. The city centre was quickly buzzing with discussions on taxation and spending cuts and with Vodafone’s national AGM approaching, those present promised there was more to come, vowing the company “haven’t heard the last of this.”
Jan McLachlan, the Norfolk People’s Assembly Secretary was quoted as saying it was “unacceptable that huge companies are allowed to evade paying billions in tax whilst the welfare system society’s most vulnerable is facing billions of pounds of cuts.” Meanwhile, Liam McCafferty, the post-graduate academic officer at the University of East Anglia’s student union, said it was “a great illustration of how the present government’s cuts are ideologically driven. There are plenty of companies avoiding billions in tax, and yet we’re told there’s no money for education or healthcare.”