Dear UK Uncut,
Further education is hardly worth the Government investing in, if the standard of research behind Saturday’s student demo against spending cuts is anything to go by.
The breakaway group that headed for Piccadilly had evidently chosen their target, or “secret location”, well in advance: the grocers to Her Majesty, Fortnum & Mason. This target presumably represented to you, the inheritors of the finest traditions of direct action everything that was Cameronesque, fat-cat, exploitative and privileged.
To which the only reasonable response is the one that students might most readily recognise: “Duh!”
Fortnums is owned by the Weston family, which probably ranks third behind the Wellcome Foundation and all the Sainsbury trusts added together in the amount of money it gives away – yes, gives away in addition to the tax it pays – to exactly the causes that are close to the heart of UKUncut and the services that it was supposedly marching to maintain.
Now, pay attention at the back, especially the youth that I spotted in the Fortnums atrium holding a sign saying “Share the Wealth” without any apparent sense of irony. The Garfield Weston Foundation owns nearly 80 per cent of Wittington Investments, a company registered in the UK, which is the ultimate holding company of Associated British Foods, Fortnum & Mason and interior stylist Heal’s. Dividends flow upwards to the Foundation, principally from ABF given that retail is having a tough time and Fortnums has just been through a major investment programme, which then distributes grants (a word students may still be familiar with).
Typically, the Foundation distributes about £40 million a year, though in good times much more. A glance at the trustees’ report – I presume UKUncut’s organisers know how to use the internet – would reveal that the Foundation gives grants to schools and universities, as well as to hospitals and housing associations. The Weston Foundation gave £25 million, for instance, to Oxford University last year alone for the development of the Bodleian Library, so I hope any Oxford students who “occupied” Fortnums will honourably refrain out of shame from using that facility for the remainder of their studies, out of respect for the Westons.
There is barely a new college benefactors’ plaque in the country that doesn’t bear the Weston name. So much for “Share the Wealth” (you muppet). And it’s difficult to think of an institution more likely to step in to the gap left by Government funding. The trustees’ in their latest report explicitly say that they have prudently made some reserves because they “have also been mindful of the possibility of requests for urgent funding being made by charities which have had their funding from other sources cut due to the difficult economic conditions”.
So well done, you students. Of all the locations you could have picked, you’ve actually chosen to bite one of the hands that promises to feed you – and one of the most generous hands at that.
Not that these were particularly hungry protesters. Not exactly in the Jarrow tradition. I hear these sons and daughters of our bourgoisie made their way through the food halls to loot the fine wines and Champagne. Clearly close to the the harsh realities of the 21st-century.
Incidentally, I also hear that afternoon tea was served throughout on the fourth floor, with André undisturbed at the piano. Which I suppose means that it really was a thoroughly middle-class riot throughout – while the children played downstairs, their mummies and daddies were properly “kettled” upstairs.
So all I can say is 'thank you' for having comprehensibly pulled off one of the dumbest protests ever, and I must say I do not think I have ever seen such a pathetic spokesperson as was on BBC tonight – she was even more evasive than a real politician and that is saying something. You never even got a flying start, shame really, perhaps next time when you have learnt a thing or two about economics your impact might be more sustainable.
PS. Again I must just marvel at the sheer incompetence of the whole operation. I do not think I have ever seen anything quite so stupid.
Email Nr 2
UK Uncut Reply (who would have thunk it)
Further I just noticed that you have put up a blog post titled 'Why Fortnum & Mason' http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/blog-why-we-sat-in-fortnum—mason
Presumably you did this to screen yourselves from the incompetence you have shown in not doing ANY target research, seeing as the date of the blog is dated the 28th. It would have increased your credibility if you had posted it during the protest rather than after; retrospective defence is rather vacuous (google that word if you do not understand it, and I trust you understand how to use google), particularly since people like me and others have since the protest informed about the actual roots of F&M.
But again, thank you so much for the comedy it's been pleasure, truly.
Listen XXXX, it is a little hard to post up blogs during a protest, and after it everyone got arrested and was in jail for over 24 hours. We did it as soon as we could.We released a press released on the day, and there were also speeches inside F &M which explained our prior research with tax experts.D
You see UK Uncut is such an organised gathering of intelligentsia (read: rag-tag random gathering of wannabe marxists on benefits with private education) that even its press officers get arrested. It is mighty funny that they did not ask their "experts" how to not get arrested in the first place. This of course being the same experts who told them to attack a charity...
I think I will have to extend them a big fat wet kiss if I ever see them, this really is priceless comedy.
(back to applying to banks.)