Hundreds of protesters rallied in the city centre to call on the government to “tax the rich”, as the rise in energy costs is expected to hit low-income families the hardest.
A large group of demonstrators gathered in the rain at George Square on Saturday 12 February to protest against the cost of living crisis, as the price of gas, electricity and food is rising at the fastest rate in 30 years. Coordinated by the People’s Assembly, similar protests were held in at least 25 cities across the UK that day.
The protests were organised in the wake of a recent Ofgem announcement which sees the largest-ever increase in the UK’s energy price cap by 54 percent. Moreover, inflation has soared to 5.4% under the CPI measure, while the Bank of England estimates that real wages will fall by £50 a month in 2022. According to research by the New Economics Foundation, the poorest 10% of families will experience an increase in energy bills by £724 – a rise which is almost 8 times larger than that of the wealthiest 10% of families.
The rally featured many speakers, including Roz Foyer, the general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), who declared that “enough is enough”. Another speaker performed a self-composed song and exclaimed to the crowd: “I can assure you, this present government is pissing down our backs and telling us it’s bloody raining.” Additionally, Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba took to the microphone to express that “people are suffering now. People are freezing now. We can’t wait. We must act now.”
This urgent call for action was echoed by a number of young people who were present at the demonstration. The Glasgow Guardian spoke to two students from the Stirling University Socialist Society who travelled to Glasgow for the protest. They commented: “People are making millions and millions off of us, like Shell. Why do our bills need to go up for companies that are already making record-numbers?”
Another Stirling University student remarked: “It shouldn’t be a choice whether you can heat your home or not.” They added: “Cold homes are dangerous for everybody, especially during winters.” This sentiment was further echoed by Paola, who recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh. Paola told The Glasgow Guardian: “I’m here because I’m angry” and encouraged fellow young people to “get involved in politics, join a union, try to collectivise – don’t just complain about it to your friends”.
Throughout the rally, campaigners spoke about the power of solidarity and demanded an immediate freeze on energy bills, which would be funded by taxing the excessively rich. Furthermore, speakers called for an end to the “endemic poverty pay” and insisted that essential services, including transport, energy, and care, should become publicly owned and controlled.
The rally’s speakers discussed a wide range of other current political topics, such as the Conservative party’s handling of the pandemic and the recent resignation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, becoming a protest of general frustration and mistrust in the UK government, with calls for more protests to be held in the weeks and months ahead. One campaigner exclaimed onstage: “Boris Johnston has turned 10 Downing Street into a 1920s gangster speakeasy with parties and piss-ups!”