Hunger levels have doubled since January. Just last month, more people in the UK went hungry than during the first Covid lockdown when millions were laid off, and 25% of households with children were food insecure. Prices remain high and blackouts loom this winter. Workers on strike, not just for themselves, but all of us suffering from the cost-of-living crisis, are treated with utter contempt by the bosses and their lackeys in Westminster.
This was the context for 220 people turning out to the Enough is Enough meeting in Leytonstone on Tuesday, October 19. The Leyton and Wanstead Labour Party printed 30,000 leaflets for the meeting and hand-delivered 25,000 of them in doors across the borough. This is a model for how Enough is Enough meetings can be built for, and it paid off. The room was completely packed. Especially for the younger people in attendance, these leaflets are mainly how they learned of the meeting.
The meeting consisted of speeches by panelists, followed by contributions from members of PCS, NEU, the barristers, and a handful of community organisations supportive of Enough is Enough, a short time for questions from the audience, and finally closing remarks from the panel. Those on the panel were John McDonnell, Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer, the head of the Waltham Forest Trades Council, a member of the CWU negotiation team for the postal workers dispute, and a speaker from Unite Community.
The speeches from the top table all hit on similar points. Jarring statistics were given about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on working class families and young people, and the point was driven home that, indeed, enough is enough. Strikers were applauded for taking a stand. One crucial thing, however, was noticeably missing from all the speeches: concrete steps to fight back for the more than 200 people in attendance who came looking for just that.
Multiple people from the audience responded to this lack of direction in their contributions to the meeting and questions for the panel. A Socialist Alternative member spoke in the discussion along these lines as well, calling for the next local Enough is Enough meeting to have breakout groups for different action committees, such as door knocking, strike support, and strike/hardship fund fundraising.
We made the point that the 1 October day of action was fantastic, but the rallies could have been far bigger had details been announced weeks in advance, as opposed to days, and tens of thousands of the most energetic Enough is Enough supporters engaged in actively building for it. The grassroots activity that turned out over 200 people to this meeting shows the potential that exists with a serious movement-building approach. Multiple Socialist Alternative members have passed resolutions in their Unite branches to affiliate to Enough is Enough and more of this should be encouraged.
Our member finished by drawing attention to the various references made to a general strike, both in rally speeches over recent months by Mick Lynch and Dave Ward, as well as by both panelists and audience members in this meeting, but that general strikes don’t build themselves. If Enough is Enough were to begin explicitly campaigning for a 24-hour general strike it could have a serious impact on escalating the fight against the cost of living crisis and driving the new Tory Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, out of power.
The new blatantly anti-union Transport Strikes bill is just one of many signs that the bosses and the government have a clear plan to escalate their attacks on the working class. We need a clear plan to fight back.