Anyone that has ever tried to cancel a phone contract will know how arduous a task it can be. One needs to be determined, one needs a certain mental strength and even then it’s not unlikely that one will come off the call tied into a new two year contract with a Skype bolt-on to boot, whatever that is. 

So on one level Patrick Harvie’s proposal to cancel the Scottish Parliament’s contract with Vodafone should be treated with caution. Even Mike Rumbles could botch the job by not being headstrong enough. These call centre commandos can break the toughest among us. 

Patrick’s central argument that politicians (of all people) shouldn’t stand idly by while large companies seemingly avoid paying their fair share of tax is perfectly fair and a convincing proposal. I haven’t bought a blouse in Top Shop since UKUncut got going so I like to think I’m doing my bit. 

Of course, the other side of this £6bn tax avoidance story was the weak contribution from Revenue & Customs. Discussions between the tax body and Vodafone ended surprisingly early and with R&C ‘caving in’ on its belief that more money was due from the phone giant. However much we don’t like it, private companies are not in the business of voluntarily handing over cash to the Treasury so it is no wonder that it’s Governments that end up getting tapped for extra cash if Corporation Tax receipts are not as high as they could and perhaps should be. 

But ripping up a phone contract two months shy of an election, incurring unnecessary charges and all for a symbolic point that realistically not many will heed? I’m not so sure. If this is not the only driving factor and BT or O2 can undercut Vodafone then I say crack on. 

But surely lobbying the UK Parliament directly and urging MPs to intervene at the core of the issue is better than any well-meaning but ultimately ineffective stunt? Didn’t someone once say it’s good to talk? Maybe that should include legal arbitration of some sort. 

The above is not too say that the Scottish Green Party’s calls are not a smart move. It is quite understandably attempting to capture the zeitgeist of the moment, to align itself with the protesters and the complainants that see the coalition as taking the country down the wrong path and the official Opposition, be it Labour in London or SNP in Edinburgh, as not doing enough to argue the other way. Who is the party of the Twitter-driven, student-heavy apolitical protest? There’s no reason to not expect the radical Greens to win through there. 

When you are the plucky outsider in the Parliament, not even getting invited to election debates etc, it makes sense to use that to your advantage. 

Shopping around for a better deal can be tiresome, but it can be worth it just as much for clapped-out phone contracts as it can be for clapped-out political parties.