Sport for People Not Profit – Olympic Protest in Huddersfield
August 2, 2012 Leave a comment
Members of Youth Fight for Jobs gathered in Huddersfield last Saturday to protest about the obscene amounts of money being diverted from the public purse into the coffers of private multi-national corporations.
Rob Bailey, Huddersfield Youth Fight for Jobs
When all is said and done the Olympic Games will have cost the UK taxpayer an incredible £13 billion. That’s £13 billion that could have been spent on building, re-opening or improving sporting facilities for the general public. £13 billion that could have kept the Remploy factories open for a further 26 years. £13 billion that could have been used to protect libraries, Sure Start Centres and other essential public services from closure.
Instead what we have been given is a gigantic corporate advertising campaign. Organisations like McDonalds, Atos, Visa and Coca-Cola stand to gain millions of pounds in increased sales thanks to the marketing and “brand awareness” potential of an event that will be seen by 4 billion people across the globe. Public money has been spent yet again for the benefit of the private sector and the 1%. This money could and should have been used to improve the lives of a population who are suffering under the oppressive heal of Con-Dem government boot by creating jobs and keeping open vital public services.
Perhaps one of the most visible examples of how the corporations and the 1% have hijacked the event is seen by Dubai based Emirates Airline’s presence on every copy of the London Underground map, thanks to the part publicly funded Emirates Air Line cable car that now stretches over the Thames from Greenwich to the Royal Docks. Lets not forget that this is a company that regularly records profits into the hundreds of millions every year.
The idea of competitive sport is not something that many of us disagree with. It is a healthy pastime that enriches, inspires and entertains the lives of those who take part and those who observe. Sport caprovide opportunity, increase health and well being, improve confidence and self esteem and provide people with something fun and interesting to do in their spare time.
The values of the Olympic Games are, according to the official website: Respect, Excellence, Friendship, Courage, Determination, Inspiration and Equality. These are all good things and values that we can relate to. However the problem comes when you analyse the differences between what the games say they stand for and what they actually stand for.
Where is the Respect in allowing Dow Chemicals, responsible for a disaster that killed 8000 and left another half a million with significant long term health complaints, to be one of the leading “partners”?
What is Friendly about London residents having missile sites planted on their rooftops?
What Inspiration can a young athlete get from being priced out of tickets by corporate sponsors who can’t even be bothered to show up to the events?
What Courage is being shown by allowing Atos, a company charged for removing as many disabled people from the welfare bill as they can get away with, to sponsor the Paralympics?
And where is the Equality in sectioning off huge sections of public highways so that those with enough money can zoom about the capital as and when they please?
These aren’t just problems that affect London either. On a local level the Labour led Kirklees Council has announced plans for cuts to library services, Sure Start Centres, Home Care, Adult Social Care, council jobs and now plans to close one of the busiest Accident and Emergency Departments in the region as we are told we can’t afford repayments on PFI funded buildings.
Despite being Labour led, our local council headed by Mehboob Khan, have bought in to the governments austerity plan as if they were true Tory Blue themselves, proving that Labour are incapable of fighting for the needs of the working class and that they are not a viable alternative.
Our demonstration was to raise awareness of these issues and to call on the council to use their ample reserves to keep vital public services running while at the same time mounting a campaign to defeat the austerity measures being forced upon us by Cameron, Clegg and co.
On the day we were joined by workers from the local Remploy factories in Huddersfield and Leeds who are currently fighting to save their factories from closure. After an excellent opening rally around thirty people, dressed in public sector uniforms and carrying the “Austerity Torch”, marched from the Town Hall through the streets of Huddersfield and down to the central library.
Around the town we got a good reception with lots of people taking our leaflets to read. Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Organiser of Youth fight for Jobs, spoke at the closing rally highlighting several of the issues above and pointed out that the fact we are now back in recession shows that the crisis will not be over soon and posed the need for a different, socialist society based on meeting peoples needs rather than corporate greed.The speech listened to by several passing members of the public.
All in all the demonstration was a success and we hope to have raised awareness amongst the general public of the issues currently affecting people in Huddersfield and the surrounding areas.