As part of a national day of action against tax avoidance, around 25 students from the Cambridge occupation protested today at Topshop. The action, which took place at the Topshop in Grand Arcade, highlighted the hypocrisy of Topshop CEO Philip Green, who is avoiding millions of pounds of taxes while advising the Tory government to cut public services.
Protesters donned Philip Green masks, and were chased through the store by “tax collectors,” who called on the CEO to pay his fair share.
Today’s action in Cambridge is one of many anti-cuts actions across the country, including the shutting down of the Oxford Street Topshop, the world’s largest fashion store. The day of action was called by UK Uncut, who are targeting corporations accused of high levels of tax avoidance including Boots, HSBC, Barclays and Vodafone.
Cambridge students have been in occupation since Friday, as part of a wave of student occupations this month against cuts to education and public services. In addition to calling for a free education, the occupiers demanded that the University “use its influence to oppose the spending review’s threat to education, welfare, health, and other public services.” The action on Topshop, students said, is part of the broader aims of the occupation, beyond pressuring University management. Yesterday, students occupied the Cambridge town council Guildhall in order to target the political mechanisms which are producing the cuts. The occupiers are also planning a broad public assembly with trade unionists, town people, students, and academics to be held at 1pm on Sunday.
Rebecca Graham, one of the protesters, said: “The Tories and Lib Dems are saying that we need to treble tuition fees and make draconian cuts to public services to balance the budget. But Philip Green’s avoided tax would pay for 32,000 students to go to university at £9,000 a year. It’s clear that these cuts are ideological, and that there is an alternative: making the rich pay what they owe.”
Jeremy Davies, another protester, said: “People like Philip Green are getting away without paying their fair share while the students, the poor, the unemployed, and public service workers face the brunt of these cuts. We’re joining in this national day of action against tax avoidance because we’re committed to fighting all these cuts and building with all the people affected. These cuts concern everyone, and so everyone must join together in resisting them.”