World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke to workers and students attending nationwide protests on October 1, organised by the Enough is Enough pressure group. Enough is Enough was founded in August by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, the Communication Workers Union and Labour MPs allied to former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The demonstrations were held to coincide with joint strike action by rail workers, postal staff and port workers in Liverpool and Felixstowe. At the rallies, the Socialist Equality Party distributed the statement: “As UK strike wave grows: Break the grip of the trade union bureaucracy! For rank-and-file committees in every workplace!”
Kyle, a swimming teacher, attended the demonstration outside London Kings Cross station.
Speaking about the cost-of-living crisis worsened by the Tory government, he said, “Everything they are doing with the ridiculous energy bills, the profiteering they allow to continue, is about transferring as much wealth as they can to the people who have already got it.
“The minute enough people stand up, there is nothing they can do. People have had enough. It is like terms and conditions, they come up so fast and then we all wise up to them. It is only so long before people pay enough attention; you can’t keep pulling the wool over our eyes.”
Referring to deepening cuts in public services Kyle said, “If you gut the public services, you can say it is not working and you can bring in your privatisation, and then who cares if it is not working because you are making a buck if you are one of these guys. There is a revolving door; if you quit politics you can go off and speak somewhere. No-one wants to hear you speak but you have got a name so people will pay you millions to chat for 20 minutes about absolutely nothing.”
Lauren is a civil servant and was attending her first demonstration. She said, “I have never done anything like this before. This is the worst things have been for everybody. I will get by but everything is being affected. Everything is falling apart and you have to do something. It is so easy to feel helpless, so it is good to be here and feel like you are doing something useful. With high electricity bills, people are going to die at home, they are going to lose their houses.”
She explained that her friend, who has lived in the city for 40 years, “can’t afford to live in London anymore. His rent has gone up by £500 a month.”
Alexander, an actor, told our reporter, “I have come here today to show solidarity with all the unions… all the workers across the country. People have had enough and are angry.”
Asked what he thought about billions of pounds going to support the war in Ukraine while food and energy prices soar Alexander explained, “Twelve years of Tory government: it has been one thing after another. People have been let down at every turn at every crisis. We have been handed a crap hand. I think it is time that people rose up and spoke against it. What else can we do at this point?”
Asked about the suppression of the class struggle by the trade unions and their refusal to carry out unified action, Alexander responded, “Over the past 40 years that has been the case, but I hope that today and the last few weeks that is going to change. There has been a real rise in positivity and solidarity not just in London but across the UK; people are waking up and saying enough is enough, people have had too much.”
Meghna, who works as a customer operator in fashion, said she attended the Enough is Enough rally in Manchester as “The cost of living crisis is affecting everything, from food to transport. I'm not in the worst position, but I came here to show solidarity.
“In London where I work, the council estates are the worst accommodation, the conditions are squalid. You’re not even able to afford a mortgage, with the interest rates going up. But they make it super easy for those with wealth.
“I would like the Tories out. I believe in taxing the rich, nationalising things, taxing more people and distributing the wealth out properly. Capitalism is like a skyscraper, you can’t renovate it, the whole thing needs tearing down.
“Manchester is the home of so many millionaires, it’s the hub of multi-millionaires like the Kamani family. They live in Wilmslow, they own all the properties, everything.”
Cian and Lewis are students. They attended the Enough is Enough rally in Leeds. They both said they feared graduating and having to take just any job while being saddled with debt from student loans.
Cian explained, “They are increasing the interest rate on student debt. Once you earn more than £20,000 a year, a newly graduated student would be paying more in tax than a billionaire, that’s interesting.”
Asked by the WSWS what they thought about the Truss government massively increasing defence spending Lewis said, “All this government seems bothered about is war, at a time when people are starving. This country cares more about hiding behind this idea of sovereignty and that we have to fight these pointless wars.”
Regarding the government’s propaganda that Russia was the cause of the cost-of-living surge in Britain, Lewis said, “Truss is saying the rise in energy bills and the fact that the pound has crashed is the fault of Putin and is taking no accountability for what she is doing to the country.”
Cian said Truss was using the war in Ukraine war, “as a scapegoat, and there is no addressing of the problems in our country because all she wants to do is talk about the war when she has a lot of control of things that she could quite easily resolve. There has been a transfer of wealth from the poorest people to the richest people, meanwhile wages for workers have been held down. All the poor people, young people have no prospects nothing to look forward to. You work harder for less and most of the money goes to those that have got more than enough.”
Tara, an adult social worker, said, “Life’s getting tougher and tougher. Now we’ve got the cost-of-living crisis and the energy price rises, I’m actually terrified of what’s going to happen over the next few months.” Asked if she supported a general strike, Tara said, “Yes, definitely. Life has to be fairer; we just can’t go on like this.”
Tracy attended the Enough is Enough rally in Liverpool with her daughter. She said, “I’m terrified of Christmas. I’m terrified of the bills that are going to come in, and I want to know when it’s going to stop. They are not going to take the food out of my child’s mouth, they are not going to take our future away!”
She supported the joint strike action being taken by workers in key sectors of the economy and supported a general strike. “Absolutely, whatever it takes. Because they are stealing our children’s and the next generations’ future from right under our noses.”
Barbara Hardcastle is the co-chair of Merseyside Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Asked her thoughts on a general strike to bring down the government she replied, “Even though I’m not a worker, I would support it”.
Speaking about the right-wing character of the Labour Party, she said, “I was down at the Liverpool Labour conference and I said to some of the delegates, ‘you look like Tories but you’re pretending to be Labour.’”
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