In Spain they sit in public squares, ban alcohol, and have meetings which last for months. In America they assert their presence – repeating and repeating that “we are the 99%”. In Britain, we had a comedy gig. In the middle of Westminster Bridge.

Mark Thomas performs on a blockaded Westminster Bridge

The last time UK Uncut organised a mass action, it was no escalation from previous tactics. Like often before, we went into a shop – Fortnum & Mason’s – and asked them to pay their taxes. Today, a major road in central London was shut down for about four hours. No one was arrested. The sun shone. We had fun.

 

When UK Uncut first launched, it was a direct action movement which people could get involved in. It was cheeky rather than shouty, encouraging is to remember that very British political tradition – civil disobedience.

When the police lied to 145 of us on the 26th of March, many journalists wrote the organisation off. Although the tactic used on that day was no different from those used before, the mass arrest gave hacks the impression that no one would take part any more. The court case would drain those who were involved, and discourage those who weren’t.

And so today was about standing together to defend the NHS. But it was also a key moment for UK Uncut. And today, around two thousand ordinary British people blocked Westminster Bridge, laughed together to Mark Thomas, Josie Long and Chris Coltrane, demanded together that our NHS must not be sold off, and said that UK Uncut is not over. We will continue. And by asserting that civil disobedience is a valid and a useful tactic, hopefully we can encourage others to use it too.

And this movement isn’t going anywhere. As Josie Long said today: “I don’t give a fuck what the result of this bill is. I will never stop fighting this”.

Josie Long

 

Adam Ramsay

About Adam Ramsay

Adam is Co-Editor of Open Democracy UK and a green activist based in Edinburgh. He co-founded Bright Green in 2010.