‘Cost of greed crisis, not cost of living crisis’

Protestors outside MP McKinley's office
Cost-of-living protestors outside Thanet MP’s constituency office. Photo courtesy of Sarah Gleave, used with permission

On Saturday 21 May, protesters gathered outside the offices of Thanet South MP, Craig Mackinlay. Their purpose was to show that the cost of living crisis is deep and dangerous and that it is in fact a cost of greed crisis, caused by the huge bonuses and tax evasion of the big gas and oil corporations. Big Gas and Oil have registered record profits recently. Shell for example had a profit of 9.13 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2022, and BP recorded similar gains. Both registered huge profits while both have been failing to pay tax on their North Sea earnings. 

Big Energy holds sway over parliament

Such huge, untaxed profits enable Big Gas and Oil companies to lobby our UK government (and our MPs) generously, when they wish to do so. It enables them to mount public relations campaigns:

  • that argue governments shouldn’t bring in a windfall tax on energy companies (although polls suggest 76 percent of the public are in favour of such windfall taxes); 
  • that pretend it is too expensive for a government to reduce Britain’s energy needs and cut energy bills by investing in comprehensive mass home insulation; 
  • that pretend renewable energy is not the cheapest and fastest way of creating home-grown energy; 
  • that decry the cost and speed advantages of clean renewable energy which reduces the climate crisis; 
  • that deny the climate crisis threats to sea level rise in East Kent, and to harvests in Europe and Kent. 

Greens call for all-party summit

Opposition politicians, such as the Green co-leader, Adrian Ramsay, are calling for an all-party summit meeting to deal with the urgent issues of food and fuel security in 2022. 

The protesters in Broadstairs on 21 May included supporters of Kent Climate Action Coalition, local food charity volunteers, Save our NHS in Kent, Thanet Greens, SWP, Thanet Left, East Kent Against Fracking and East Kent Climate Action. The protestors chose the office of MP Mackinlay, because this year he has actively promoted the view that Britain needs to increase its reliance on gas and oil, instead of reducing it as fast as possible.

MP is Climate Change denier

He is a member of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, which decries the evidence of almost all scientists and the IPCC reports on climate change, and challenges the commitments made by Britain during COP26 in Glasgow claiming they cause price rises. However all logical reasoning shows the cheapest energy is the energy saved by those who can afford to insulate their homes.

Insulate now!

a demonstrator holds a placard declaring 14-year highs
A demonstrator in Broadstairs holds a placard declaring 14-year highs in corporate profits, photo used with permission

Alas, our low wage economy means 27 percent of children in the UK in 2020/21 live in poverty (higher in Thanet and Dover districts) and those most affected by hikes in energy bills are unable to invest to upgrade their homes. Price rises are due to failures to stand up to big gas and oil companies and government failures to insulate the UK’s poor housing stock at scale. Some of the calls by protesters that drew support from passers-by included, “Who pays Craig?” “Whose planet? Our Planet!” and “Insulate now!” 

Sharon Goodyer of Our Kitchen in Isle of Thanet, was one of six public speakers at the protest. She told the group of 50–60 protestors how the choice between eating and heating is hitting many in Thanet South and Thanet North very hard. She said “my non-profit has 3 500 families and individuals registered for food help. Some people still don’t understand that food support and foodbanks serve people who are registered as needing help.

Time for government to take over

The scale of the problem has become much too big for charities to solve. The government must act on the cost of living crisis. On Monday 23 May I will be at parliament talking to decision makers and presenting some practical ideas on how the government could help quickly to ease food poverty. For example, if government funded staff to work two extra hours a day in kitchens with school meals services and with non-profits and charities like ours, we could upscale fast to provide more locally-grown, healthy affordable food by this autumn.”

More protests are planned.