Socialist Worker

Organising to fight the effects of recession

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2122

While Gordon Brown rushed to guarantee the savings of the tiny minority who have over £35,000 stashed in a bank, millions of us were lying awake worrying about our jobs, homes, pensions and how we can afford to put food on the table.

That is why campaigners across Britain have been out on the streets explaining who the real victims of the economic crisis are.

One such protester is 72 year old pensioner Mary Phillips. Wrapped in a blanket and sat on a sofa, she parked herself outside the Royal Courts of Justice as part of a Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged campaign against government inaction on fuel poverty.

Mary, who appeared on scores of radio and TV news bulletins, told Socialist Worker, “I told the media that the government should renationalise the energy giants, impose a windfall tax, cut prices and increase pensions. And for saying that, I got loads of support.”

A few days earlier in Glasgow, apprentice joiner Riou Lidderdale decided to use the People Not Profit Charter as the basis for a picket of the headquarters of Scottish Power.

Trouble

Around 40 people – including local pensioners, carers, students and trade unionists – gathered to show their anger at the way big corporations have been profiting from people’s needs.

“It was the first time I’ve organised anything like this,” Riou told Socialist Worker.

“I wanted to get students and pensioners together, so I contacted members of the NUS Scotland executive and local older people’s groups.

“Neither had any trouble making the links between the profits of the fuel firms and the growing levels of poverty.”

Meanwhile in Portsmouth students demonstrated outside the city centre’s banks demanding, “No bailout for the bankers.” There are now plans for similar protests in Bristol, Birmingham and Bradford.

Ideas for action include organising sit-ins at local banks to demand a halt to house repossessions for those who fall behind on their mortgages. Campaigners are also planning to occupy city centre flats to demand the nationalisation of vacant properties.

They hope that by arranging viewing appointments they can gain access to the flats and hang banners from the windows – while ensuring a friendly journalist has been primed with the story.

These small steps are only the beginnings of a fightback – but they are crucial and should be spread nationwide.


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Tue 7 Oct 2008, 18:07 BST
Issue No. 2122
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