“In the fifth richest country in the world that you’ve got a third of my city living in food poverty and that’s reflected right across the country. Well that’s terrifying, that to me says the system is completely broken”
Ian Byrne was speaking at the “Enough is Enough – Time to Demand Better” mobilising rally for the national TUC demo in London this Saturday. You can read an adapted version of his speech or watch it in full below:
I don’t think we can quantify how important the 18th (the TUC’s National “We Demand Better” Demonstration) is to show our anger collectively and just say the system us utterly broken.
I can sit here all day and quote statistics but one of the most damning ones for me is a third of my great city of Liverpool are food insecure. They’re living in food poverty and that was before the cost of living crisis and that’s before it gets even worse.
That situation is what I’m facing both as a constituency MP and what we’re facing right across the board, that’ll be right across the country and as Kim [Johnson MP] alluded to and I want to say this a lot: in the fifth richest country in the world that you’ve got a third of my city living in food poverty and that’s reflected right across the country.
Well that’s terrifying, that to me says the system is completely broken, it’s how we as a movement tap into the anger, it’s how we galvanise people to demand change because that’s what we need to be doing.
We need to be demanding change and we’ve all got to realise hunger is a political choice. Choices that are made in this place [parliament] are forcing millions into abject poverty and hunger, and not being able to put a meal on the table for themselves and their children.
Now the Chancellor knows this. The richest man in parliament knows exactly what he’s doing. When you go to ministers and you talk about being on a humanitarian mission not a sectarian mission – they need to listen to what we’re saying, reflect on what’s happening, and certainly in my constituency and my city and across the board, it falls on deaf ears.
The only way this changes is if people do rise and up and demand change. Obviously as politicians we can try and make that vocal within the chamber but it’s got to be on the streets and that’s why this rally is so important.
At the moment in this time in history, we have one of the worst government’s we’ve ever seen. One of the most right wing governments we’ve ever seen, who are trying to stop any sort of protest or any sort of rising up. They’re shutting down every avenue of dissent.
That’s why it’s so important on the 18th that we get out, that we show our anger. But also it can’t just be, that’s the 18th done. What happens after the 18th? How do we galvanise the anger? How do we keep the collectivity going?
It’s really important that we fight back, we create a really strong movement, not tinkering round the edges but demanding reform.
Personally, we’ve had so much support from the trade union movement for the Right to Food campaign it’s been absolutely magnificent, Dave’s [Ward, CWU General Secretary] on here, there’s many other good comrades as well.
The trade union movement have stepped up to the plate and backed the right to food and that will continue over the coming months as we demand change collectively – both politically from a trade union perspective, but also in our communities that we haven’t yet reached.
The future of this country is not twelve million people unable to put a meal on the table. The future of this country must not be four and a half million kids going to school hungry and not reaching their educational attainment.
That’s an attack on the working class. That is class war what we’re facing now. We’ve got to demand better and for me the 18th is the start of it, how to shape our demands moving forward.
We’ve got to come together and we’ve got to keep pushing and pushing, and elements of this will be the trade union movement going into struggle. Like we’re going to see with the RMT, like we see with the CWU, like we see with PCS. We’ve got to collectively back the trade union movement to go where we need to go.
But also we’ve got to reach out into those communities because people are desperate for change. we’ve got to shape that with a radical offering.
So solidarity comrades, I’m going to be marching on the 18th, we’re going to have a big Right to Food banner, we’re going to be with Right to Food campaigners across the country and I’m looking forward to seeing you all there.
- The TUC’s national cost-of-living crisis demonstration takes place on Saturday 18th June in London. Coaches are being organised from around the country – find out more here.
- Ian Byrne MP is the MP for Liverpool West Derby, show you stand with him against soaring cost of living on Facebook and twitter.
- This article is an adapted version of a speech given by Ian at the “Enough is Enough: Time to Demand Better” mobilising rally, held by Arise Festival on June 8th. Watch it in full here.