By Patrice Winn and Charlotte Creighton
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Downing Street on Saturday afternoon calling for David Cameron to resign after the leaking of the Panama Papers.
Following confirmation that the Prime Minister benefited from his late father’s offshore tax haven account, protesters took to the streets of Westminster to express their anger. Mr Cameron and his wife, Samantha, sold the shares in Ian Cameron’s offshore company, Blairmore Holdings, for £31,500 before he became Prime Minister in 2010.
After Iceland’s history-making protest resulting in the Prime Minister’s resignation last week, the “Resign! A gathering at Downing Street” event, which was organised through social media, drew mass attention prior to it taking place.
The hashtag #ResignCameron was used to promote it across social media networks, whilst a Facebook event page was created with the official details of the demo. An estimated 13,000 people were on the “interested” list of the event page, whilst 5,000 were on the attending. Famous faces like Lily Allen, Jarvis Cocker and Joel Fry were present at the police-heavy protest, whilst Edward Snowden, with a series of live tweets, voiced his opinions on closing the tax loopholes.
Whilst the crowd chanted “tax evasion is a crime, David Cameron must resign”, the event organisers called for motivating speeches. “Tax avoidance allows big companies to break their social contact with you and me, services are the backbone of the country,” Jolyon Rubinstein of the Bafta-winning BBC political satire show The Revolution Will Be Televised, told the crowd
The Prime Minister’s tax affairs brought people together on Saturday, while austerity was also an issue for the angry congregation. A man identified only as Alan from North Shields shouted into a microphone: “The northeast has one of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment. Why is it in this country that we have people living on food banks, it’s not right, it’s not normal!”
One of the event co-ordinators “Phoenix” of Occupy London, said: “It’s the corporate monsters and that monster in there that is destroying our children’s futures. Everyone has gathered today because of the tax havens and the austerity robbery programme, what is really going on?
“They are saying we need £850 billion for austerity. £850 billion is something like all the money the big corporations haven’t paid in tax. David Cameron and his Tory mates are hiding away their money in tax havens, and they are closing down our schools, libraries and hospitals.”
The day after the demonstration David Cameron released his tax papers, providing tax details since he took office as Prime Minister. In an interview with ITV last week, Mr Cameron said he had paid full UK tax and done nothing illegal. However, it also emerged on Sunday that the PM had received two separate payments totalling £200,000 from his mother in 2011, which suggests this method was used to avoid paying a substantial inheritance tax sum.
Some argued that what the Prime Minister has done, although legal, was morally wrong. In the House Of Commons yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn said: “We’ve gone through six years of crushing austerity” and “ordinary people in the country simply won’t stand for this anymore, they want real justice, they want the wealthy to pay their share of tax, like they pay when they work hard all the time”.
The People’s Assembly were successful for bringing London to a standstill with their End Austerity Now Demonstration with 250,000 protesters in June 2015 following the general election. This weekend, they join forces with “Resign! A gathering at Downing Street” for another mass demonstration, hoping to recreate and double the viral energy of last weekend’s gathering.
Members of the demo will march from Euston Gower Street to Trafalgar Square, eventually gathering outside Downing Street.