My name is Jo and I am the ActionAid Local Organiser for Wimbledon. For the last couple of days I have been at the Conservative Party conference to take the message of our Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign to attendees.
Having never been to a party conference before, I had a mixed bag of expectations for the conference. I knew there was going to be a lot of issues competing for the interest of party members but I expected to be able to engage and lobby a few of them on tackling tax dodging. I was also looking forward to meeting and learning from ActionAid’s team at the conference.
When I arrived at the conference, as expected there was a lot going on, with members seemingly always rushed off their feet. Often I got very small windows of opportunity to engage and hand out leaflets. We had a big map showing the support for the Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign across the country which was great at attracting attention. This gave me the opportunity to lobby party members, helping them to buy into the campaign. We also got councillors and MPs to take pictures with the map to show their support, including Minister for International Development, Desmond Swayne.
Through ActionAid I invited my local MP Stephen Hammond to come see the Towns Against Tax Dodging map and hear about the campaign but unfortunately he was busy. I hope to arrange a meeting with him after the conference.
I also attended the Tackling Tax Avoidance fringe event that was organised by ActionAid and others such as Christian Aid and Oxfam. It was great to see a packed room of people who really care about this issue and very interesting to hear from the speakers Jim Waterson, Deputy Editor at Buzzfeed, Michael Izza, Chief Executive of ICAEW (a membership organisation for accountants), Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford and Mark Goldring, CEO of Oxfam.
From the conference I will be taking increased momentum, knowledge and skills to campaign against tax dodging which continues to be detrimental to UK citizens and small businesses as well as damaging for international development. I will put this energy into organising the event I am putting on in my local area of Wimbledon to discuss further the campaign to tackle tax dodging. Please do come along.