UKUNCUT: Big Society Bail-In: Barclays 7+ Actions
February 19, 2011 11:00Tagged as: anticuts banks barclays cuts libraries library social_struggles tax ukuncut vat workers_struggles
On Saturday 19th February, the Big Society Bail-In will be targeting branches of Barclays bank in Central London, turning them into libraries for the day. We’ll be having poetry readings, story time (like the story of Bob, the fat cat CEO of Barclays who is getting an £8m bonus this year on top of his £1.35m salary) and educating people on the actions of the banks and the ways in which they can and should contribute more to repairing the damage caused by their negligence and greed.
So bring a good book, signs, banners and flyers, balloons, cakes and sweeties, a loud voice and as many people as possible. Make yourself heard, engage with the public, stay safe and have fun.
The meeting place is the middle of Soho Square, just off Oxford St. It's just round the corner from Tottenham Court Road tube station on the Central and Northern lines (or ten minutes walk from Oxford Circus or Leicester Square stations)
We’ll be meeting at 11am, then moving onto a nearby branch of Barclays. Once there we’ll be turning the bank into a library, showing the government what the ‘Big Society’ really means.
For details of other london actions scroll down...
The Big Society Bail-In: Barclays Turning banks into libraries for the day
In 2007, years of irresponsible lending, rash and reckless speculation and a lack of regulation in the banking sector came to a head, causing a global financial crisis and subsequent recession that led directly to the current program of massive cuts.
Several banks were saved from collapse by the government; the National Audit Office reported that the amount of public money used to bail them out reached almost £1tn at its peak. Yet the City continues to reward itself. Last year Barclays alone paid its bankers £2.7bn in bonuses, whilst other British banks brought the total amount of bonuses to over £7.3bn. This week Barclays is to post record annual profits of more than £11bn.
Meanwhile the country is undergoing the harshest cuts to public services in generations. Local council and government department budgets have been slashed, thousands and thousands are losing their jobs, community centres and libraries are closing, VAT, university tuition fees and living costs have risen. Vital benefits such as Disability Living Allowance and the Educational Maintenance Allowance are being reduced, restricted or abolished, leaving the most vulnerable parts of society to bear the brunt of the crisis.
The government, led by a Conservative party that receives half of its funding from the City, is doing nothing to reform the problems with the banking system that created a financial crisis in the first place. By lowering corporation tax, they are not only failing to ensure that the banks pay their fair share, but are actually creating a situation where some banks will be paying less than they were before the bail outs! The Coalition say that we are all in it together and that there is no option other than to make society pay for the mistakes of a small minority determined on further enriching themselves at the expensive of the country as a whole.
But there are alternatives. A one-off 50% levy on bonuses over £25,000 last year raised over £2bn for the treasury, yet the government has no plans to repeat this. A ‘Robin Hood’ tax of approximately 0.05% on international transactions would raise billions and discourage the kind of excessive speculation and risk-taking that led to the recent crisis and subsequent recession. Without proper reform and regulation of the banking sector nothing will change, lessons will not have been learnt and this will all happen again.
What the banks are doing may be legal, but that does not make it moral. This is not right, it is not fair and we will not stand for it.
Next Saturday, 19th of February, sees the start of something rather special: the second public takeover of Britain’s banks. The first takeover, or “bail-out” was astonishingly expensive and not much fun. The public was left billions lighter in the pocket, with little more to show for it than their names in the fine print. What did we get for our money? Greater regulation to ensure the crash didn't happen again? No. A reformed banking system that serves us rather than the city? No. How about penitent bankers showing restraint with their pay packets? Um, also no.
Luckily, the start of the second takeover is just days away. The Big Society Bail-In will be much cheaper, more effective and, crucially, much more fun. Adam Ramsay has already done an excellent job chronicling how the bail-out of deadbeat banks led to the deficit and the resulting rationale for swingeing cuts. Now, for the antidote – the Bail-In. From next Saturday onwards, intrepid UK Uncut volunteers up and down the land will be bailing into the banks and setting up libraries, forests, hospitals, schools, playgrounds, leisure centres and everything else that needs saving. After all, as Osborne’s valiant defense of city bonuses against common sense shows, the banks have nothing to fear from the austerity agenda. What better place to keep our services safe from the Treasury axe?
Since October, the campaign against tax dodgers, the Big Society Revenue and Customs consistently found spectacular and imaginative ways to make tax avoiding corporations pay. In Brighton, Santa Clause glued himself to a BHS. In Oxford, the tax dodger’s grand prix whizzed round the avoiders dotting their high street. In London, volunteers set up a library inside Vodafone, a Sports Day inside Topshop and a NHS field hospital in Boots.
Our next wave of actions will be even more exciting. A Bail-In means marching into our broken banks and building something better. Make your silent, sterile Barclays branch sing, dance, explode with life! Reclaim the space and make it into something thrilling, something that shows how much creativity the anti-cuts movement has. Let’s smash austerity with a smile on our faces. We are Cameron’s nightmare, a real big society with the vision and bravery to transform the institutions at the rotten heart of our system.
UK Uncut is your movement. There are no centrally planned actions. If you have an idea for an action, or want one on your high street, it's up to you to make it happen. First step is to visit our action centre and check whether there is an action listed near you. If there isn't, why not take on organising and listing one yourself? Second, visit our targets section for all the information and resources you'll need. Third, and most importantly, call text tweet facebook email everyone you've ever met asking them to come along. More details on how to organise an action are here.
This is bonus season: traditionally the time of year when the people who drove the global economy into the ground shamelessly reward themselves for their efforts. Traditionally, we are outraged. Traditionally, our outrage doesn't turn into action and so, traditionally, they get away with it. This year, as our public services are being torn to pieces by a government that has done nothing but indulge the banks, we want things to be a little different. It's up to you. Get creative, get organised and take action.
This is the Big Society Bail-In - we will not pay for their crisis.
See you on the high streets.