UK Uncut – the support is growing, and diversifying
All across the country today, UK Uncutters took to the high street. This time, our target was banks. This time, we were shouting about the health service. This time, our message was a new one – “restructure the banks, not the NHS” – “It’s the banks that caused this mess, don’t sell off the NHS”.
And once more this movement that launched only half a year ago flexed its muscle. From Plymouth to Aberdeen, people organised their own actions. More than 40 groups across the country turned out, and demanded that the government kills off the floundering Health and Social Care Bill, and focus instead on reforming the institutions who caused the crisis – the banks.
And all across the country, the public responded with support. In Oxford, where I was, customers shoppers gathered round the open windows of the closed HSBC to listen to our chants and to show their approval. When we moved on to Barclays, customers applauded. Outside Santander, passers by cheered. As tweets flooded in from across the country throughout the day, one thing was clear: huge numbers of people are on our side. Protesters from North, South, East and West found warmth and love from the people of their cities. Back in Oxford, one of the police officers told us how vital our protest was, how much he supported our cause.
And people are not just on our side in a passive ‘hurry on by’ way. They were gleeful, delighted to see that the fightback continues. I spent the morning asking people to sign a pledge to refuse to vote for any party that sells off the NHS. The response was overwhelming. People were passionate and angry, articulate about the gutting of an institution they know and love.
And this public anger was reflected in the people who joined the protest. UK Uncut has always been diverse. But this strength in breadth is growing. We were joined by disabled activists who see their services being lost. We were joined by an FE teacher who has lost his job because of cuts, and a youth worker who will soon. A network that was sparked by students and recent graduates has grown to a movement which includes all those hit by the assault on the institutions of civilisation.
And that is exciting.