The government's energy price hike is an outrageous assault on working people that the movement has to fight, argues Chris Nineham
The £700 hike in energy costs announced today spells disaster for millions of people. The choice for many will be heat or eat. Combined with tax hikes, interest rates rises and background inflation it is going to lead to what the Bank of England admits will be the biggest fall in disposable income in three decades.
It would be wrong, according to Sunak, for us to believe we don’t have to adjust to this new reality of desperation.
Sunak’s £350 cushion for some households doesn’t change the fact huge numbers of people already will be pushed over the edge by this rise. Worse, most of the subsidies will have to be repaid from next year.
Sunak talks as if the fuel cost rise affects everyone in remotely the same way. This from a man whose personal wealth is estimated at £200 million and whose wife Akshata Murthy allegedly owns shares in her father's firm Infosys worth £430 million.
This devastating attack on the poor takes place at a time when the UK is awash with wealth, and inequality has reached almost unimaginable levels. Last year the combined wealth of Britain’s 174 billionaires grew by more than one fifth.
The fuel hike itself signalled by the regulator is clearly itself utterly unnecessary. Energy giant Shell saw its profits last year rise from $4.85bn to nearly $20bn. This increase is in part due to strong earnings from shipping liquified natural gas on the international market amid the global squeeze on gas supplies.
It is crucial that the whole movement responds to this outrage with the strongest possible protests. Mobilisations have already been called in some places in the next few days. The People’s Assembly is supporting or organising protests in Manchester, Bristol, London, Newcastle, Lancaster, Nottingham and Glasgow next Saturday 12 February. Please do everything possible to promote these and organise your own protests wherever you can.
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Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
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