UK Uncut protests in Manchester

Up to 100 protesters targeted stores on Market Street in Manchester today as part of a national day of action against companies linked with tax avoidance.

Protesters outside Top Man

Protesters outside Top Man

The protests, part of the grassroots UK Uncut movement which aims to put pressure on the Government to tighten up on corporation tax collection instead of cutting jobs and public services, were held in turn outside Barclays Bank, Vodafone, Boots and Top Man. To read why they chose these targets, click here.

While arrests were made at demonstrations in other parts of the country, the action in Manchester remained good-natured, with some banter between police officers and the protesters, who were mainly young but with a sprinkling of pensioners as well as celebrity DJ Dave Haslam. The reaction from passers-by was generally positive too, with few of the protesters’ leaflets being thrown on the floor.

None of the stores needed to close their doors over the two-hour period, with activists seemingly happy to make their point through chants and home-made placards rather than risk having their collars felt, though only the most determined Christmas shoppers were weaving their way past the swarms of protesters. That must have affected trade to an extent, while most of the firms seemed to have hired extra private security to keep a watchful eye on proceedings.

Media-wise, a BBC cameraman attended the Vodafone leg of the protest but only filmed around 30 seconds of footage, while Nigel Barlow of local news website Inside The M60 posted live updates on Twitter when the Orange 3G connection allowed.

When I arrived home, I checked how the protests across the country local newspaper websites for their reports. Full marks must go to the Brighton Argus, the only ones I could find who covered their local protest online.

Not only that, but they did so via a rolling live blog, keeping readers informed of the protests and arrests, while also answering their questions about when the coast was clear to resume shopping. In one fell swoop the Argus became the go-to place for breaking news, essential information and lively local debate.

It’s unclear whether any of the other activities around the country were as newsworthy as Brighton’s – if they were, the local press have missed a trick. The Argus’ blog attracted dozens of comments and even usurped the weather from the ‘most read’ chart. Even minor demonstrations, however, would have been seen by thousands of curious shoppers and required police officers’ time, so it would seem worth recording online at least.

The UK Uncut campaign itself doesn’t seem to need mainstream news coverage to gather momentum, however. Twitter, Facebook and blogs appear to be the way the message is being disseminated and the next activity co-ordinated.

One final thought occurred to me as I scanned Twitter for ‘#ukuncut’ updates and saw dozens of photos and first-person observations from the protesters’ point of view: I wonder how long it will be before the press offices of the targeted firms use that hashtag to post their rebuttals?

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1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Cockerton, Paul Cockerton. Paul Cockerton said: @jowadsworth Argus live blog on protests on the Argus today was great, well done. I mentioned it in a blog post http://bit.ly/fHzgel […]

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