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

Last month, protestors gathered to challenge the profits and power of big gas and oil corporations. Sarah Gleave, Dover and Deal Green Party Coordinator, reports.

Cost of living protestors
Sarah Gleave

Last month, 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 avoidance of big Gas and Oil corporations. 

Big Gas and Oil has registered record profits recently. Shell, for example, had a profit of USD 9.13 billion in Q1 2022, and BP recorded similar gains. Huge profits were registered while they both have been failing to pay tax on North Sea earnings. 

Such huge, untaxed profits enable Big Gas and Oil companies to lobby the Government (and our MPs) generously, whenever 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 per cent 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 that reduces the climate crisis,  
  • that deny the climate crisis threats to sea level rise in East Kent, and to harvests in Europe and Kent.    

Opposition politicians, such as Green Party 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 protestors in Broadstairs included supporters of Kent Climate Action Coalition, local food charity volunteers, Save our NHS in Kent,  Thanet Greens, Dover Greens, SWP, Thanet Left, East Kent Against Fracking and East Kent Climate Action. 

The office of MP MacKinlay was chosen 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. 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. Alas! Our low-wage economy means 27 per cent 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. 

Mike Garner, leader of the Green Party group on the Conservative-led Thanet District Council said, “In fact price rises are due to UK Government failures to stand up to big gas and oil companies, and the failure 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!”, “Insulate now!”, “We despise, MacKinlay’s lies.” 

Sharon Goodyer of Our Kitchen in the 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, “our non-profit has 3,500 families and individuals registered for food help. Some people still don’t understand that food support and food banks serve people who are registered as needing help. 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 23 May, I will be in 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 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 in East Kent. Also, in London, a big demonstration focusing on the cost of living crisis is planned for 18 June, called by the TUC. The Green group will be meeting outside Regent’s Park Tube, from 11am.