A guest blog today from Nick Jackson, one of our Community Campaigners from Norwich. Last week, he and fellow Community Campaigner Mark Lewin had some interesting conversations with festival-goers as they took the 'close tax loopholes' message to the Magdalen Street festival. They even managed to snag a new and important local supporter in MP Simon Wright.
"After shivering in the shade of the Magdalen Street flyover for an hour and getting no signatures, we were starting to think we’d made a poor choice of pitch. The tombola for the local community centre was doing great guns next to us and our stall looked a little dull by comparison. Then we thought we’d try a slightly more proactive approach.
"Simply asking passers-by if they’d heard of the ‘Tax Justice Campaign’ seemed to get people asking questions. Soon we had our first few names on the petition. It seems tax dodging is in everyone’s mind at the moment. People are acutely aware that, as their own pockets are squeezed, the bankers and multinationals are getting bigger bonuses and fatter profits.
"Using the case study of Zambia was helpful too. Mark was great at explaining how, in Zambia, more money is lost to tax dodging than they recieve in international aid each year. Everyone could identify with the story of Katherine Mwapa who stands at her fruit and veg stall in front of the Glencore Mining company factory complex. The caption tells how she pays more income tax annually than Glencore does!
"We also managed to get local MP Simon Wright to lend his support to the cause. He took the time to chat with us and we even managed to get a shot of him with the 'Close Tax Loopholes' board.
"In the end we had a busy day, getting 71 names for the petition and speaking to scores of ordinary people, young and old. One man was anxious to let us know that we shouldn’t try and close all the tax loopholes. He then took pleasure in telling us how he’d built his business up by exploiting tax loopholes opened up by Margaret Thatcher’s government. Funnily enough we couldn’t persuade him to put his name on the petition.