Dalton Square, Lancaster, 1st February 2023
The 1st of February 2023 was dubbed “Walkout Wednesday”[i] – yet remotely fair or effective government walked out on us far more than a decade ago. These days we are down to the lees and scum of politically dubious types. Figureheads who only care for themselves and their ilk. Backward thinking chancers with nothing but escape on their minds . . .
Cycling into Lancaster the weather was distinctly murky but this had no effect upon the enthusiasm of the amiable groups of demonstrators and strikers, children and parents, heading towards Dalton Square. The square filled quickly and the electricity was palpable – for underlying the enthusiasm is a justifiable rage, rage at the mess into which the Tories have plunged this country, disbelief that such a corrupt, elitist government – with its chain of inept prime ministers and hapless theoretical bureaucrats – can still be stumbling on, making things worse by the hour.
Leaving Dalton Square
Barely bothering to conceal their connections with profiteering allies; squirreling money away; back-slapping overpaid managers, the Tory government clearly view the rest of the UK population as Morlocks[ii]. Regular communications from Tax Justice UK[iii], Greenpeace[iv], Extinction Rebellion[v] and others, stresses the widening chasm between rich and poor as well as the environmental implications of this. As Shell announce their highest profits in 115 years[vi], the futility and destruction embedded in such figures is hard to bear. Enough has been enough[vii] for far too long. Use this link to demand a windfall tax now: https://act.350.org/sign/windfall-tax-uk
Marching up Thurnham Street (A6), 1st February 2023
All over the country, from every walk of life, opposition is growing to the casual criminality of the people at the top. If the government get their totalitarian anti-strike laws through parliament, do they seriously think that the downtrodden (most of us) are going to take any notice; that they can rewrite legislation for their own benefit, forever? Egotistically they continue to trash our planet, as if they have another in mind, as if that is why they allow their pals to keep all their riches: downpayment on a fleet of spaceships!
Steve Metcalf speaking on behalf of the RMT[viii]
Other statistics only emphasise the urgent need for nationalisation. For example, the railways: During Covid-19, the track repairing, train operating, and train owning companies made 1484 million pounds profit – most going to wealthy owners abroad. Even now, on average, the railway companies make £500 million a year, yet won’t give their staff a fair wage.
Market Square, Lancaster, 1st February 2023
Two of the groups most in evidence on Wednesday were the NEU (National Education Union) and the UCU (University and College Union). The pay of UCU[ix] members has dropped 25% in real terms since 2009 and their pensions been cut by 35%. Parents, students and schoolchildren were all very vocal or visual in their support:
Market Square, Lancaster, February 1st 2023
There is nothing controversial about these strikes – despite the inevitable inconvenience, everyone supports them. Those less desperately in need, are beginning to understand that if we don’t take a stand and build solidarity towards a widening of strike action, they will be in the firing line next.
As we passed the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on Ashton Road, the column of marcher’s and the nurses outside, applauded each other. Meanwhile back on the A6 and all around the one-way system of the city centre, almost every held-up or passing vehicle, tooted and waved or gave a thumbs up in support – including one driver cheerily sounding the klaxon from his thundering cement mixer.
© Lawrence Freiesleben,
Lancaster, February 2023
[ii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eloi Hard to believe that Wells’ novel was first published 128 years ago