Groups across East Anglia demonstrate against the government

Activist groups organising online are springing up across East Anglia, protesting government policy or inaction.

Suffolk for Europe activists
Suffolk for Europe activists in Halesworth, Suffolk. Photo by Anna Damski.

Saturday saw a day of protest across East Anglia, with the emergence of several new political groups acting spontaneously against the government.

The initiative was mostly driven by an increasingly angry and frustrated social media.  The protests also seem likely to grow, since every group has declared Saturday to be just the start. 

In Ipswich, Action for Fire Safety Justice and the Ipswich ‘Cladiators’ were demonstrating against government policy on addressing the problem of flammable cladding on blocks of flats. 

In Halesworth, Suffolk for Europe were hearing that Brexit is a disaster. In Eye, demonstrators were furious at the poisoning of the River Dove by raw sewage, while Cambridge had three demonstrations.

Two were by XR Rebellion, timed to coincide with the opening of the COP26 climate conference.  The third was by Act Now Cambridge, in the Market Square, made up of those exasperated by almost every aspect of government policy, and proving their determination by getting drenched.

Act Now Cambridge

Act Now Cambridge
Act Now Cambridge

“Act Now was born out of frustration,” organizer Claire Adler told EAB.  “We want to wake people from their current apathy, and fight for a better government. 

“The Tories have been dishonest about the consequences of both Brexit and climate change.  They’re hosting COP26 and yet they’ve put up a totally ungreen budget!  We’re a grass-roots movement against them and we want to get more people involved.”

Suffolk for Europe

In Halesworth, Suffolk for Europe activists gathered in Halesworth, in the heart of Therese Coffey’s constituency, where they canvassed locals on how Brexit is going. Resident and Vice Chair, Philip Gough was unsurprised by the result. “Remain voters are feeling vindicated that Brexit is turning out to be as bad as they thought. But Leave voters are angry too, because they’re not getting what they were promised. Basically, no-one’s happy.”

The pro-EU group are planning their next street stall in Ipswich on the 20th as part of a national day of action organised by the European Movement.

‘Stroppy Suffolk’ protesting in Eye

The Eye gathering may be the first political demonstration in the sleepy Suffolk town since the Peasants Revolt.  The group is called Stroppy Suffolk, and the name highlights the anger around the town at having “our lovely Dove” polluted by raw sewage.  The outfall is just at the edge of town.

Stroppy Suffolk protesting raw sewage in the River Dove
‘Stroppy Suffolk’ in Eye protesting raw sewage in the River Dove.

“A few of us in and around Eye are concerned about this government ignoring the interests of the people it’s meant to represent, and we were wondering what we could do about it,” said Kate Leith.

“So we produced a factsheet for residents and set up a petition to MPs and Anglian Water, which we took to Eye town centre for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon. 

“The response was amazing!  People were crossing the road to tell us how disgusted they were – and everyone signed the petitions.”

Stroppy Suffolk are one of several groups which have emerged to fight the sewage pollution.  A group of 50 wild swimmers in Manningtree braved both sewage and the cold for a dawn swim only days before.

‘We’ll be back’ activist groups promise

Already the Cambridge and Eye groups have declared that they will be back the Saturday after next, 13th November, and every Saturday after that.  It is expected that by then there will also be other groups, which it known are in the process of coming together.

They will not be meeting this coming Saturday, since most attention will be on the COP26 events of which there are a number around the region.  They include Ipswich, Lowestoft, Woodbridge, Aldeburgh, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Cambridge, Bedford and Harlow.  But information on events in smaller venues, like the event in Diss, is not comprehensively available.

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