Yes I usually do. But there’s a fine line between principles and stubbornness.
“Screw you capitalist swine!” I shouted, with my middle finger raised at the woman behind the till in Starbucks.
This was in my mind of course. It was probably a bit harsh to take it out on her. She just wants a job like the rest of us. Probably a nice person, with bills to pay, dreams and aspirations of escapism towards a fulfilling and meaningful existence. She might even be more of a tea drinker.
I had purchased my last Starbucks coffee. I had made the decision and that was that. My line in the sand was drawn damn it. The reason? Simply, I refuse to part with my money to a company that doesn’t pay tax back into the UK economy. Using this legal loophole is crafty, but fundamentally and morally wrong. We’re undergoing severe austerity cuts here in this country and our National Health Service, which we should be proud of, is struggling and falling into disrepute because of financial difficulties, even resorting to putting parts of the service out to tender to large corporations, which will run put profit ahead of quality care.
Anyway, I made the decision that Starbucks would no longer get my hard earned spondoolies.
I tweeted, ‘That’s it. My last @StarbucksUK coffee. Not fair to spend my money when they don’t pay tax. @TaxAvoidance_UK Power to the small independents.’ Yes, I copied in Tax Avoidance UK. I don’t mess about. My tweets automatically link to my Facebook too, so all my family, friends and 48 followers on Twitter were going to hear about this. I knew that this ripple would escalate through social media and send a shockwaves around the world.
I was right. Within a matter of days, I had gained 7 likes on the Facebook post. No response on Twitter. I always preferred Facebook anyway.
Must be a slow burner.
A few days later, I walked past a Starbucks and raised my fist saying, “Ooh pay your taxes you bloody tax evading bastards!” My friend looked at me and asked whether I was turning into Alan Partridge intentionally. It’s not a conscious decision.
I decided to Google companies which do not pay tax in the UK.
1. Starbucks – I will miss the Caramel Machiatto and shortbread cookie that I see as an odd treat. I shall also miss sitting in a certain Starbucks in Birmingham City centre. Oh well, I am a man of principle. I will not falter and change my mind now. Especially as I’ve told the world and the world has listened!
2. Amazon – I do a lot of online shopping and Amazon is my usual first port of call. My regular purchase consists of nasal strips to minimise my snoring and the resultant bruises from the good lady. Blue is usually my colour, but not when it’s skin tone. Oh well, at least there’s always eBay.
3. eBay – Bollocks!
4. Facebook – So much for social media campaigns then. My seven supporters will have to get on Twitter. I err, always preferred Twitter anyway…. honest.
5. Google – There’s an irony that I found out that Google don’t pay UK tax through a Google search. Oh well, I’ll have to find a new search engine. Is Ask Jeeves any good?
6. Apple – Well that’s me completely f****d! My Mac, my iPhone and iPad need to be binned. I can also forget about all my music on iTunes and on my iPod. I’ll have no means of surfing the web, using a different search engine, for other online retailers or alternative independent coffee shops!
I am a man of principle, stubborn, easily agitated and distracted by balloons. Much of that sentence is irrelevant. But if I stick to that principle and apply the whole boycotting of non-tax paying companies, it is going to prove very awkward and expensive for me.
So I’m sitting here, enjoying a shortbread cookie and a grande caramel macchiato, but not tweeting about it. I don’t need seven friends on Facebook, including my aunty Doris to boo and hiss at me with placards calling me a Judas!
Happy New Year to you all!