Britain is the fifth richest country in the world. Yet one in three children in Britain is growing up in poverty – and their numbers are growing.
That’s why thousands of people marched through London last Saturday as part of a campaign to end child poverty. People travelled from Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, Manchester and Oxford to be part of the demonstration.
Charity workers, volunteers, trade unionists, parents and young people joined the noisy march. They demanded that Gordon Brown stick by his promise to end child poverty by 2020.
Some media reports of the demonstration presented it as being pro-government. But that feeling was not shared by most people on march. They were angry that child poverty exists at all – and felt that the government should be doing more to tackle it.
Geoffrey from the Campaign to End Child Poverty in Oxford told Socialist Worker, “This government has changed the face of poverty. Under Margaret Thatcher, poverty affected people who were out of work. Today poverty affects people in work.
“I have campaigned for 20 years against poverty and never imagined that it would be tackled by doing anything other than redistributing wealth. The money has to come from the pockets of the rich.”
“It’s a disgrace that child poverty is such a problem today,” said Elaine from south London. “I hope this protest will open people’s eyes to what’s going on.”
Steve from London helped to steward the march. He told Socialist Worker, “The statistics on how many children are growing up in poverty are frightening.
“Children are the future. They will be providing for my generation when I’m retired. Investing in children will pay for itself many times over.”
People from teaching unions were prominent on the march. “Teachers are often at the sharp end in terms of dealing with the effects of child poverty,” Amanda Haehner, president of the NASUWT union, told Socialist Worker.
“We’re here today to remind the politicians about their promises on poverty. Today’s protest shows that the government won’t be allowed to forget them.”
As recession hits Britain, the government has made it clear that that has billions of pounds for bailing out the bankers. So the money to end child poverty is certainly there. As one banner on the march put it, “Mr Brown – why 2020? Why not now?”