38 Degrees Logo38 Degrees Logo 38 Degrees Logo

Posts Tagged ‘Campaign Success’

Great News: Friern Barnet Library has been saved!

February 4th, 2013 by

We’ve just heard that 38 Degrees members have helped save Friern Barnet Library from closure!

Last April, Barnet Council closed the library because of cuts to their budget. Barnet Council had planned to sell off the library in order to try and create funds, but because of the huge public opposition they faced that won’t be happening!

After Barnet Council closed the library, Occupy London activists occupied it in early September and, with thousands of book donations, re-opened it for the community. In response to this, Barnet Council started eviction proceedings against the Occupy activists, which encouraged 38 Degrees member Rosie to start her petition on Campaigns By You to re-open Friern Barnet library.

The library has been a vital hub for the community since 1934 – providing everything from personal finance advice and pilates classes to computer access for those who can’t afford their own. Offering warmth for the elderly who are struggling with heating bills and providing a safe quiet place for local children to do their homework, it was essential to try and keep the library open.

Thanks to Barnet council’s own rules, they had to hold a debate on the library’s future if the petition reached over 4,000 signatures, which it did!

The control of the library has now been handed over to the newly formed Friern Barnet Community Library, whose board of nine trustees comprises members of the local community who have involved with the project from the start!

38 Degrees member and petition starter Roise has this to say:

“This is a fantastic victory for the residents of Friern Barnet. They can at last be assured that the lovely Friern Barnet Community Library is saved. Local residents were very surprised by the councils u-turn from wanting to bulldoze the library into giving local residents a two-year licence.

This is also a major victory for Occupy who initially negotiated with the London Borough of Barnet to get locals a licence and who as well as campaigning to get the library re-opened were also protesting over the recent change in law that prevented people from squatting in residential buildings.

We are still hoping that the council will give enough money for a paid librarian and look forward to a grand opening when all the children from local schools will be invited to re-join the library.

Our win is not just about a local library but about the national campaign to save libraries throughout the UK. We’d like to thank 38 Degrees for their fantastic support.”

This is another great example of people getting together to create positive change!

The petition that helped to keep Friern Barnet Library open was started by 38 Degrees member Rosie on the new ‘Campaigns by You’ part of the 38 Degrees site. ‘Campaigns by You’ lets anyone set up and run their own campaigns on any issue they want – big or small, local or national. Click here to find out more or start a petition: http://you.38degrees.org.uk

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

Great news: government agree to protect our forests

February 1st, 2013 by

Forest Victory Story

Yesterday, after months of deliberations – we have the final, official word from the government that they will do what more than half a million of us asked them to – and protect our nation’s forests for good.

Congratulations! We’ve really, truly, won.

It was a political defeat, and victory for people power they never saw coming.

Click here to see how we made it happen, and then share this image on Facebook.

In late 2010, the government announced a plan to introduce a new law to allow all publicly owned woodlands to be sold off in the future.

The government might have expected a few predictable protests, but there was nothing predictable about what happened next.

  • 538,107 people signed the 38 Degrees petition
  •  More than 100,000 of us contacted our MPs
  •  We funded an independent poll, which found 84% of the public wanted our forests in public hands
  •  Thousands raised nearly £60,000 to pay for ads in national newspapers
  •  More than 30 local campaigning groups sprung into action around the country
  • Over 220,000 of us helped spread the word on social media

When the government finally did admit they got it wrong, they promised to set up an independent forestry panel to advise them on what should be done next.

Again, 38 Degrees members sprang into action:

  • 34,000 of us wrote to the panel to tell them what we wanted for our woodlands’ future – more that 80% of all the responses they received
  •  We gathered in places all over the England, to take pictures and discuss our ideas
  • A big group of 38 Degrees members brought all our ideas, as well as our top three priorities, to a public meeting with the panel in September 2011

And the Independent Panel on Forestry was critical.

They found the government had “greatly undervalued” the benefits woodlands provide for people, nature and the economy. They then called for forest policy to be held in public trust for the entire nation, shielded from political interference – with one member saying, “the tree cycle is wholly different to the electoral cycle.”

So here we are today, more than two years after our campaign began – and the government has at last, quietly issued an official announcement confirming that they won’t try selling off England’s forests again.

That means we’ve done it. Our forests are safe, for good.

It’s thanks to all the people who fought so hard – including over half a million 38 Degrees members – that our beautiful forests and woodlands are now safe for generations to come.

Click here to share the good news, and tell others how people power saved our forests.

Together we should all feel incredibly proud about the part we played in saving England’s wonderful forests and woodlands. Please forgive the long email – but moments like these don’t happen every day. Again, thank you.


Share the “How We Won” image on Facebook

How We Won


Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

Lib Dems vote for tougher climate action!

September 25th, 2012 by

Great news! After hand delivering hundreds of copies of our climate change petition on Monday morning, the Lib Dems voted strongly in favour of tougher climate action, including backing a 2030 target for carbon-free electricity. It’s a great start, but together we need to keep up the pressure to make sure that George Osborne doesn’t block these new targets.

See below to read more about our petition hand-in at the Lib Dem conference!

On Sunday evening the 38 Degrees team boxed up the 32,000-strong climate change petition and travelled down to ‘sunny’ Brighton to hand in our people powered message to the Lib Dem party.

We hand delivered our huge petition straight to the Climate Secretary Ed Davey, calling on the Lib Dems to take a stand on a climate change and back the motion to get carbon emissions under control by 2030.

David delivering over 32,000 signatures to Climate Secretary Ed Davey

He responded positively to the vast number of signatures supporting tougher climate action. The same day he called on the members of his party to back the vote the next morning and support the 2030 target!

On the day of the climate vote we teamed up with local 38 Degrees members to deliver our people powered  message to the rest of the Lib Dem party.

We were up bright and early in the pouring rain to try and catch voting Lib Dems before they went in to the conference. Due to tough security there was only one main entrance to the conference centre – so we made sure that the 38 Degrees message was the last thing Lib Dems heard before they went in to make their decision.

Armed with our ‘Vote Yes’ flyers we delivered the 38 Degrees message to hundreds of Lib Dem members who passed through our climate change gateway to get inside the conference.

Many Lib Dems responded encouragingly to the thousands who signed the petition urging them to get serious on tackling climate change.

Despite the soggy leaflets and broken umbrellas the team felt confident that our huge climate petition could spur the Lib Dems to vote the right way!

Local 38 Degrees members brave the weather to deliver our climate message to Lib Dems in Brighton

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

That Olympic tax wheeze

July 30th, 2012 by

Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and economist, has written a blog about the Daily Mail’s comments on the effect of our Olympics tax-dodging campaign: 

The Daily Mail has published an article today saying:

Tax campaigners hailed it as an extraordinary victory for public pressure and a rare act of conscience from the corporate world. But an announcement from Olympic sponsors McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and GE that they would ‘waive’ 2012 tax breaks, garnering positive publicity, was not all it seemed because they were not entitled to the tax breaks in the first place.

They continue:

The pressure group 38 Degrees has mounted a huge campaign against the supposed tax breaks, getting almost 200,000 people to sign a petition calling for the sponsors to give them up. But Revenue & Customs told Financial Mail last week that Olympic sponsors did not qualify for corporation tax exemptions at the Games. ‘All sponsors that are UK resident companies will be liable to corporation tax in the normal way,’ it said.

And as example they noted:

McDonald’s UK, the burger giant’s British company, will be operating restaurants on the Olympic site. Because it is resident in the UK it cannot get the tax exemption. The same is true for Visa, Coca-Cola and GE.

Then they added, rather oddly:

Tax advisers warned that Revenue was already starting to clamp down on abuse. ‘People have misunderstood the potential of the exemption,’ said Bill Dodwell, tax adviser at Deloitte.

So what’s the true story? Well, as someone quite involved in this whole issue – having advised both 38 Degrees and Ethical Consumer on it – I’m going to suggest that the Mail have been sold a pile of tax PR by some of the Olympic sponsors and have chosen to accept it at face value. Indeed, since they called me about the story and I explained to Alex Hawkes who wrote the Mail piece exactly how I thought the exemption could be abused and he chose to ignore my comments in the piece, I am sure that is the case.

So let’s go back to basics: the Mail story is right to the extent that UK resident companies trading on the Olympic site will pay tax on their profits arising there. So of course McDonalds, Visa and Coke who will be selling on ste will be paying tax on the profits arising.

But let’s for a moment remember that profit arising is a pretty nebulous concept in these cases. For example, the profit on a burger is if you’re running a burger van the sale price less the cost of the ingredients, the cost of the labour of the person cooking it and the shop overheads. But in the case of a complex multinational things are somewhat different – as we now know from having seen the tax affairs of many US multinationals in the UK – and because the same journalist who wrote this Mail 38 Degrees story also wrote this one for the Mail in April, proving how little tax multinationals pay here in the UK. And that low rate of tax does not happen by chance: it happens because of the structuring those companies use. So things like advertising, branding rights, copyrights, intellectual property and so on are all used to shift profits around, legitimately maybe, but with little or no tax being due none the less as somehow or other those rights always seem to end up being owned in tax havens where the fees charged are not taxed.

And could the same shenanigans have been done by a multinational that set up a tax haven subsidiary which then signed a deal to sponsor the Olympics and which company then managed the resulting rights to use the Olympic endorsement world-wide from a tax free branch located in London for the duration of the games using the known UK tax exemption? Well, I think so. In fact I think the combination of having an offshore subsidiary of a multinational with a tax free branch in london for a period to exploit Olympics related activity could have been just the sort of thing many a tax department would have looked at to get a a payback on their investment in the Olympic brand. They could have even have charged for the use of the Olympic related branding to the UK based subsidiary that was taxable on sales in the Olympic park, so reducing its profits, Daily Mail, please note.

And that’s why the requests of the Olympic sponsors was to say that they would not be aplying for the exemption as a group. Some were emphatic on that and I think it fair to say others less so. I applaud those were clear.

But to say that because sales in Stratford to the public are taxed that we’ve misunderstood the Olympic tax deal is the usual, candidly patronising sort of comment that comes out on tax from multinational corporations and their advisers with the hope that the complexity of the issue will mean that the real opportunities for abuse through complex structuring of deals will be ignored. Well, I didn’t ignore that possibility and I think I was right to not do so. As a result if now  those sponsors have said they won’t abuse UK tax laws  then I think that is a definite win for 38 Degrees.

It’s a wider win too. What it shows is that decisions on tax are available to large corporates – and they can choose to abuse, or not. That’s a moral choice. It is one where those companies can be guided by ethics, not lowest common denominator excuse making linked to a mythical duty to profit maximise that does not exist in UK law, and is one where we are now demanding they make the right choices, not just on the Olympics, but regularly. And as they’ve now proven they can and will respond to that pressure let’s also be quite clear: our aim is now to keep the pressure on them to do the right thing, time after time after time.

Having said which, perhaps the Mail might like to take a consistent line next time – and not sell big corporate tax PR when it suits them to do so.

Richard also posted this blog on his website, Tax Research UK, here

What do you think about the fact that large corporates are able to abuse tax? Do you want to see more campaigning against tax dodging by big business? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

Hurray! Now what next?

July 26th, 2012 by

Asda, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Adidas, VISA… In the last couple of weeks we’ve taken on some of the most powerful companies in the world – and won! Our petition to Asda helped pressure them to increase the price they pay farmers for their milk. And together, we’ve forced them to pay their fair share of tax during the Olympics. All of the companies we targeted have now said they won’t be using the tax break open to Olympic sponsors. Read the 14 statements here.

This campaign was something new. 38 Degrees members are used to taking on the government. But this was the first time we’ve targeted big global companies. We knocked them over one by one, gaining strength with each fresh victory.

This win is more proof that when we work together, we get results. That’s why as 38 Degrees members we choose what we campaign on together. Member polls are an important part of deciding what we should focus on next. Should we concentrate on protecting the NHS and the environment? Should we be cracking down on bankers? Perhaps you have an idea of your own?

Can you take the two minute survey and help set the direction of 38 Degrees?

When 38 Degrees members first saw the tax breaks for Olympic sponsors, exposed in a piece by the magazine Ethical Consumer, it may have seemed unlikely that these heavyweight multinationals could be forced to back down. But we were successful because we used our power as customers. The same strategy worked on Asda.

The sponsors were hoping to get a big boost from their involvement with the Games. But our huge petition and the flood of activity on Facebook and Twitter had them worried. They could see it was safer to back down on the tax break than to risk a PR disaster with the very people who buy their products.

Fixing this particular tax dodge is a step in the right direction and a glimpse of what we can do – but there’s so much more to do. Recent reports suggest that the UK could be losing trillions of pounds in dodged tax every year. Should we follow up our Olympic success by keeping the focus on tax-dodging or should we be prioritising other campaigns? Perhaps we should be concentrating on tackling climate change, stopping the privatisation of the police, or protecting the BBC. Or is there something else you’d like to suggest?

Take the quick survey and help decide what we should work on next together.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , , , ,

Victory – Murdoch withdraws BSkyB bid

July 13th, 2011 by

The BBC is reporting that “Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has announced that it is dropping its planned bid to take full ownership of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.”

38 Degrees members started campaigning against Murdoch’s BSkyB powergrab back in July last year. Along with our friends at Avaaz, some great campaigning journalism from the Guardian and lots of other groups we’ve shown that people power works.

We’ll update this blog with the latest news and more details soon. You can read how the campaign unfolded here.

Here are some pictures of how the campaign unfolded:

Update 2 – here are some comments from Twitter:

RT @38_degrees: BREAKING NEWS! Murdoch has withdrawn his bid for BSkyB! Well done everyone! We did it! We did it!less than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet Reply

Who said campaigners never achieve anything? #bskyb #murdoch #peoplepower Hats off to #Hacked off @avaaz @38_degrees and @Ed_Milibandless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

What a day for British democracy! Well done @Guardian, Nick Davies, @Tom_Watson and @38_degrees amongst othersless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Congratulations to two organisations too that have campaigned tirelessly @38_degrees & @avaaz – excellent campaign !! #Murdochless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Update 3:
We didn’t do it alone. As well as hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members there were lots of other groups working hard to stop Murdoch’s BSKyB powergrab. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- Our friends at Avaaz and Hacked Off
- The press. Some journalists worked tirelessly to expose the phone hacking scandal including The Guardian and the New York Times
- Some MPs have been speaking about this for some time including Tom Watson MP and Chris Bryant MP
- Celebrities, including Hugh Grant, also worked hard to stop Murdoch’s BskyB campaign and to expose the phone hacking scandal
- An incredible social media campaign

Update 4:
Some comments from Facebook:
- John: “this result shows that democracy and the will of the people can and does win,well done everyone.”
- Jo: “People 1 Murdoch 0″
- Stuart: “a landmark in people power through social networking & the web! … Use this victory to keep going – gather momentum and change the media landscape for the better and in turn make this a more democratic & free country”
- Christopher: “Brilliant job 38 degrees and Avaaz but especially The Guardian. Not giving up when it matters can pay off!”
- Gideon: “YES!”

And from the blog comments, Stephen: “I thought we were going to lose at many different points, but after the NOTW it seems politicians are standing up to Murdoch and his grip is loosening”

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , ,

Victory! MPs vote to ban circus cruelty

June 23rd, 2011 by


Photograph by Robin Ducker

We won! A few minutes ago MPs voted to ban the use of wild animals in circuses from July next year.

The BBC is reporting: “MPs defy ministers and back ban on wild circus animals“. This doesn’t mean the ban is law, but the BBC reports that this “will increase pressure on the government to act.”

This is a huge victory for people power! Congratulations to everyone who helped make this happen, including the following:

Update: here’s some tweets celebrating the win:

“#circusban vote in: MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on wild animals in circuses!” – Animal Defenders International (ADI)

“A huge thank you to all those who contacted their MPs! This vote will force the government to rethink its position on a #circusban” – RSPCA

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: ,

What should we campaign on next?

June 3rd, 2011 by

38 Degrees members help save our forests

38 Degrees members help save our forests

38 Degrees is on a roll! There are now over 800,000 of us and together we’ve won some huge, people-powered victories on the forests sell-off, new rules to help prevent human trafficking and stopping the massive cow factory farm in Lincolnshire.

We make change happen by working together. That includes deciding together what we should campaign on and how we should do it.

Now, we need to decide what we should campaign on next. The first step is to share ideas about issues that we care about that we could work on together. It could be about something local, national or international. Our campaign target could be a politician, a big company or someone else with the power to change the way things work.

Share your ideas in the comments below and then next week volunteers in the 38 Degrees office will go through all the comments here, and on Facebook, to see which ones are most popular. Then, next week, there’ll be a chance to vote on our top priorities.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,

Success! Government Agrees to EU Directive on Human Trafficking

April 5th, 2011 by

Brilliant news! After many months of campaigning by tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members, the Independent on Sunday and our friends at Anti-Slavery International, the government has said it’s going to sign up to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking.

On the 19th March, we went along to 10 Downing Street with Anti-slavery International and the Independent on Sunday to hand in a petition of over 45,000 signatures.  The petition was handed in by Oxana, who is a survivor of human trafficking from the Ukraine to the UK.

We were asking the government to sign up to the new EU Directive on Human Trafficking, so that there is more co-operation across Europe to protect victims of human trafficking. And it worked, the government has agreed to the Directive.

When we first heard that the government was refusing to take action on trafficking, we teamed up with specialist groups Anti-Slavery International and ECPAT.  Nearly 50,000 of us signed the petition and thousands of us emailed our MPs to make sure the government took action on this issue.

Now, the victims of trafficking will have better protection provided by the EU Directive, with countries across Europe working together to target the criminal gangs and traffickers that are exploiting people. This decision is important, but won’t stop human trafficking altogether. It is a big step in the right direction towards justice and protection for victims of human trafficking.

You can find out more about the campaign on Anti-Slavery International’s website here.

Click here to find out more about Human Trafficking.

Human Trafficking petition hand in

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Here are a few photos from the hand-in:

Human Trafficking petition hand in

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Human Trafficking petition hand in

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Artful Dodger in Westminster: Media Coverage

March 24th, 2011 by

Artful Dodgers in the Telegraph

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Yesterday, 38 Degrees members paid for the Artful Dodger ads to appear in national newspapers, highlighting the issue of tax dodging on the day George Osborne announced his Budget. As the attention of the national media was focused on Westminster and the Budget announcement, a group of 38 Degrees volunteers made sure that tax dodging remained high on the agenda by dressing up as George the Artful Dodger and posing for reporters outside parliament.

It worked – we got our message about tax dodging into the media. The gang of Artful Dodgers were featured in live TV news broadcasts including BBC News, this video on the Telegraph website, and today in a huge photo in the Telegraph’s Budget supplement, shown here.

A short film following the Artful Dodgers’ progress around Westminster and explaining why 38 Degrees members are so concerned about the issue of tax dodging in the UK will be available on the website soon.


Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Tax dodging

Tags: , , , , ,