By all accounts, we’re overdue for a fightback in the UK as well. With over half of UK households predicted to fall into fuel poverty this winter, the Tories have responded by doubling down on the tried-tested-and-failed doctrine of tax cuts for the rich.
Meanwhile, national media have attempted to suppress dissent against the state of things by drowning us in coverage of the Queen’s death. The morbid spectacle peaked when BBC presenter Clive Myrie described the cost of living crisis as “insignificant” in the face of Elizabeth’s demise.
Undoubtedly people are mad about how the country is being run, and insurrection is in the air.
Leading the charge are national campaigns like Enough is Enough and Don’t Pay UK, both of which have drawn huge followings with their simple messaging, that ordinary people should not have to bear the costs of a crisis that is not of our making.
This month both campaigns made their Bristol debuts, drawing large crowds keen to do something to fight back.
On Tuesday 20, Enough is Enough brought its travelling stage show to St George’s Bristol, where figures like Nick Ballard of Acorn, Carla Denyer or the Green party, and Brendan Kelly of the RMT railed against the injustice of the present moment and called for unified action to resist.
The crowd seemed fired up throughout the evening, but there was also a hesitation in the air.
Maybe it’s that people are simply brow-beaten after so many years without a win. Or maybe it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy. We all remember the anger and disappointment felt as the movement for Jeremy Corbyn was so cynically and so cruelly destroyed by the media, the political establishment, and even Corbyn’s own party.
What Enough is Enough understand is that to meaningfully fight our current crises we need organised movements. Your average person on the street is not going to start marching on the seats of power unless a lot of others do the same.
Strength in numbers is the motivating idea of Don’t Pay UK, a campaign for a fuel bill strike in which millions of people simultaneously refuse to pay their energy bills. The strike will not begin until one million people have pledged to do so, reducing the risk to any one person.
A public meeting on September 23 was packed with people keen to learn more about the campaign, which has the support of Enough is Enough, Bristol Energy Network and the Bristol Disability Equality Forum.
An originally predicted start date of October 1 has now been pushed back as to date only around 190,000 people have pledged to strike, although organisers remain confident the target will be reached by late November.
For now we will have to simply wait and see what happens in the next few weeks as a renewed period of strikes begins.
The UCU are on strike as this goes to press, the CWU follow soon after, and the RMT return to the picket lines from October 1.
To coincide with this, Enough is Enough promises a day of action across the country on October 1, although details of this have not (at time of writing) been revealed. The Don’t Pay Bristol group will also hold outreach events for anyone interested in learning more about the campaign.
Will it work? Who knows. But if, like many of us, you’re sick of this shit and looking for something to do about it, you could do worse than to join a picket line this October.
All images © James Ward.