Storm of protests against rising cost of living sweeps Britain

By Peter Lazenby

STORM of protest swept Britain at the weekend when thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to vent anger at a cost-of-living crisis driving millions of working people deeper into poverty.

From Edinburgh to London, Manchester to Birmingham and Sheffield to Southampton, demonstrations took place in more than 40 towns and cities on Saturday.

Participants carried banners and waved placards demanding: “Cap energy bills,” “Tax the rich” and “We won’t pay for the crisis.”

In London, a baby just a few months old clutched a placard reading: “I can do a better job than Boris.”

The protests, organised by the People’s Assembly, took place as inflation edged towards 6 per cent, with warnings that it could exceed 7 per cent in April.

Energy customers have been told to expect price rises of more than 50 per cent, while oil giants BP and Shell have declared profits of £9.5 billion and £14.2bn respectively.

In Manchester, where thousands marched, Manchester People’s Assembly chairman Chris Neville said: “What we are really seeing now is unprecedented, a perfect storm of effects on working people, massive inflation.

“We are being told energy prices are going up by 50 per cent plus after they have already gone up and wages have fallen for over a decade since the Tories were elected.

“We want to be the start of a movement against all this, saying: ‘Enough is enough’.”

Ian Allinson of Manchester Trades Union Council said: “In a way, it’s a very unifying crisis, in that some people were already struggling to choose between heating and eating and more people are going to be pushed into that situation unless we win change from this government and the energy companies.

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“The reality is that you have the governor of the Bank of England, a man on half a million pounds a year, telling workers to accept low pay rises.

“Why is he not demanding Shell and BP accept lower profits and keep prices down? That would do more to help inflation than demanding we pay the price for it.”

In Glasgow, Labour MSP Paul Sweeney said: “When wages are stagnating, we’re seeing costs spiking and the governments are missing in action when people are crying out for help both at a Scottish and a UK level.”

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