I do not really understand the ‘art’ of protesting as I have never felt the urge to live up a tree on the site of a proposed bypass nor been compelled to ‘custard pie’ a politician while dressed as Batman.
It is not that I do not feel passionately about issues, it is just I don’t have the time to paint horns on to a picture of David Cameron and hold it aloft for eight hours outside a municipal building when I could be doing something useful like colour co-ordinating my underpants drawer. On any given weekend in most towns or cities you will find protestors of all shapes and sizes having their say about all number of causes, from the dwindling rain forests of Borneo to the lack of butter in a Butter Pie (that last one was made up, but you get my point?) While not agreeing with many of the arguments raised by the angry man with the loud hailer and the high-vis tabard I, with the risk of sounding like that old campaigning warhorse Tony Benn, defend their right to air their views, which is still one of the great things about being British.
Try handing out your Stop The War leaflets in Beijing or Moscow and see how far you get. Of course the one thing currently occupying the thoughts of any self respecting anti-capitalist has to be the tax avoidance row which has engulfed some of the world’s largest brands: Starbucks, Amazon and Google.Being totally honest, the news this immoral trio of multinationals has employed the best accountants money can buy to find clever ways to get them out of paying taxes is the least surprising news since it emerged Jimmy Savile was not just a DJ. But, in a week the nation was glumly informed by a rich, posh man with no chin, that we would all be feeling the pinch for at least another half a decade, the inevitable news that super rich corporations are avoiding paying what they can easily afford is enough to make anyone choke on their latte.
It appears the protestors’ voices have been heard because Starbucks has announced it will pay a relatively piffling £10m of taxes, even though they don’t really have to, and have taken out a series of sanctimonious newspaper adverts telling us they are not really ogres and asking us, very nicely, to start buying coffee again. Starbucks is not compelled to release figures which show the impact on profits but it has clearly made a dent. Will it have a long term effect? I am not sure as while I don’t often shell out the price of a pint for something I can make at home for the fraction of the cost I cannot promise not to pop in for a shot or two of caffeine next time there is a desperation for some respite from the tedium of shopping with The Boss.
It is fair to say the majority of us are of the same opinion when it comes to protesting - it is something done by other folk. And sadly this apathy will continue to allow the big boys to do precisely as they please.