In the face of increasing economic hardship for ordinary British people, a progressive coalition of trade unions, advocacy groups and community activists is saying that enough is enough. Why aren't we saying the same thing in New Zealand?

THE BLEAKNESS of our economic times is only matched by the bleakness of winter. Finance Minister Grant Robertson's lofty claim that, post-pandemic, the country would 'build back better' has proved, predictably, to be further empty rhetoric. This is a Finance Minister who has presided over the biggest transfer of wealth to the already wealthy in the country's history. Meanwhile everyone else is expected  to carry the economic burden of an economic system in crisis.

While the pandemic has laid bare the extreme injustices and inequalities of our economic and social system, we're still faced with a situation where our so-called 'representative democracy' continues to represent the interests of the one percent at the expense of everyone else. Neither Labour or National are offering anything but more of the same. The enemies of the New Zealand working class do not all reside on the right of the political spectrum, our enemy is also a weak and opportunistic liberalism that has no other loyalty but to a right wing Labour Party.

In Britain they are faced with the same conditions of an economic crisis that confronts us in New Zealand. The difference, of course, is that the Conservative Party are in power. However this is also a country where its Labour Party, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, has lurched well to the right. These days you can be expelled from Starmer's Labour Party for being a socialist and sitting Labour MP's are reprimanded for standing in solidarity with striking workers. 

The British working class has effectively been left without a political voice. It has been abandoned by the political establishment. 

In response, a progressive coalition of trade unions, advocacy groups, and community activists launched a campaign last week to 'push back against the misery forced on millions by rising bills, low wages, food poverty, shoddy housing—and a society run only for a wealthy elite.'

'We can't rely on the establishment to solve our problems,' says the website for the campaign, which is backed by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), ACORN community union, Tribune magazine, Football Fans Supporting Foodbanks, the Right to Food Campaign, and Labour Party parliamentarians Zarah Sultana and Ian Byrne. 'It's up to us in every workplace and every community.'

The campaign revolves around five main demands: real pay rises, a slashing of energy bills, ending food poverty, decent housing for all, and taxing the rich. 

Just two hours after the Enough is Enough campaign was launched, the website crashed as it struggled to cope with the heavy traffic. By the end of the first day, 75,000 people had signed up. Some 250,000 people have now joined the campaign.

Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, says the campaign plans to hold rallies and  mobilise community groups.  It will be a grassroots campaign.

'We won’t let working people pay the price for yet another crisis' she told the media. 'There is incredible wealth in our society – with multinational corporations making record profits – but it’s hoarded by a privileged few. We’re saying enough is enough: put our need before their greed.'

Such a similar campaign could well work here as well. In the absence of any real representation in Parliament, a campaign like this would allow an expression of the real anger that is out there. The political parties of the establishment are not going to save us. We have to turn the tide back ourselves and build a movement campaigning for a set of popular demands. 

But with less than sixteen months to the next general election, its unlikely that such a campaign  would be supported either by trade unions or Labour Party activists. Their only objective is getting Labour re-elected and they have little real interest in defending the concerns of working people. They are only prepared to campaign, yet again, on the tired and uninspiring claim that Labour is 'preferable' to National. That's not going convince the folk lining up at the foodbanks, the more than 24,000 people sitting on the state housing waiting list. And its not going to convince the over 600,000 people who have simply given up voting - because nothing ever changes. But they might just be interested in a campaign that says enough is enough.


  1. Any type of grassroots protest in this country would be hijacked by "freedom" types, you know FARC, Voices For Freedom, anti 1080, anti 3 waters, the usual suspects.

  2. Not necessarily. This would be protest about present economic policies. Doing nothing however leaves a vacuum where the groups you list can dictate terms.

    1. FARCs last protest was about what again? Something about the cost of living? Looks like they have already hijacked the narrative...

    2. Oh well, we'll just do nothing shall we? Giving up isn't a strategy.


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