Between 11am and 1pm on Saturday 16th April, local campaigners from the anti-poverty campaign group the World Development Movement  held protest at the Barclays branch on Cornmarket, Oxford. This was to highlight the role that the bank is playing in creating hunger by pushing up the price of key staple foods, through its reckless speculation on the global food markets. Protests are taking place in a further 22 locations across the UK this month, from Glasgow to Worthing. 
Oxford WDM member Julieanne Porter in front of the ‘WDM Cuts Monster’, at the march in London
Members of Oxford WDM joined the national ‘march for the alternative’ march and rally in London on Saturday 26th March.
WDM members joined the rally against cuts and privatisation, and to show the links between ‘austerity’ in the UK and that which has been imposed on developing countries in the last 20 years. The march aimed to counter the government’s arguments that there are no alternatives to the spending cuts, which will damage public services and put more than a million people out of work.
The government says that the cuts are the only way to get the country back on its feet. However, recent analysis has shown that the cuts will not help the economy to grow, and will hit the poorest members of society the hardest. It will increase the gap between rich and poor.
Oxford group member Julieanne Porter said “WDM has spent years fighting the same neo-liberal policies imposed on the global south that are now being brought to the UK. It’s time to learn the lessons from countries around the world and we joined the march to say no to the cuts”.
Angry that the part nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland is investing taxpayers’ money in companies linked to human rights abuses and climate change, protesters are taking part in a week of action against the bank. In Oxford, on 24th April at 11am, campaigners from Oxford World Development Movement protested outside the RBS branch in St. Giles to demand that our money stops financing companies involved in devastating activities, such as oil extraction from tar sands.
The campaigners say that RBS is involved in financing tar sands related companies to the tune of $7 billion, since its bail-out by the UK public. Extracting oil from tar sands in Canada has recently come under the spotlight as highly controversial because it violates indigenous peoples’ rights and contributes more to climate change than conventional oil extraction.
A week of action that will see protests across the country around the bank’s AGM on 28 April has been organised by the World Development Movement and student network, People & Planet.
Chris Manley from Oxford World Development Movement said:
“We are calling on the government to force RBS to stop investing taxpayers’ money in tar sands companies because of the devastating impact that it has on indigenous communities and climate change. Since the bail-outs RBS has continued to use our money in highly damaging ways, and this has to stop. Instead our money should be invested in projects that are beneficial to people in the UK and to the poorest people in the world.”
Notes to editors:
• The RBS AGM is taking place on Wednesday 28 April in Edinburgh; there will be protests across the country including outside the AGM and in London.
• Indigenous people in Canada have been marginalised and discriminated against throughout history. Now because of tar sands projects financed by the publicly-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, their lives are being destroyed.
• Tar sands are found in the ground and consist of oil mixed with sand, clay and water. To get to the oil the sand, clay and water need to be removed using very expensive and energy intensive techniques.
• This makes oil extracted from tar sands the dirtiest energy source and the Cree people’s land in Alberta, Canada, has been poisoned with mercury and arsenic from the mines. They report boils and tumours in the fish and game they rely upon for food, and soaring cancer rates in their towns.
• WDM wants the government to stop RBS using our money to destroy the lives of poor and marginalised people, and instead fund socially useful activities like public services and clean technology.
Welcome to Oxford World Development Movement Group (OxWDM), a local group of national World Development Movement (WDM).
The Oxford WDM Group campaigns in Oxfordshire, lobbying MP’s, organising public meetings, undertaking street theatre/stunts and holding stalls to engage the public on development issues. See about for further information about the Oxford group.
On Saturday 12th September, members of Oxford WDM were dressed as cooling towers from coal-fired power stations in Cornmarket St, Oxford, campaigning for the Big If, against more of these power stations in the UK. The group asked passersby to do anything, from writing to their MP to organising a protest, if Ed Milliband, Minister for Climate Change and Energy, decides to go ahead with new coal-fired power stations without committing to stop all carbon emissions from the outset.
The proposed new dirty coal power station at Kingsnorth in Kent could by itself be responsible for:
- More than 20,000 people being forced from their homes as climate refugees
- 100,000 people losing their dry season water supply due to glaciers melting
- 50,000 people being at risk of hunger due to drought and lower crop yields
Letting this happen would completely undermine the UK’s targets on climate change, and mean we have no credibility at crucial international climate talks in Copenhagen.
Chris Manley, secretary of Oxford WDM said: “The largest coal power stations in the UK emit more carbon dioxide than the whole of a country like Tanzania. By pledging to take action if the government goes ahead with dirty coal power stations, ordinary people in Oxford are sending a clear message to the government that they will not stand idly by when climate change is already devastating the lives of millions of people across the planet.”
Ends; notes below
1. For more details please see www.thebigif.org/
L-R: Philip Vander Elst (UKIP), Caroline Lucas (Greens), John Madeley (chair), Sharon Bowles (Liberal Democrats), Janet Keene (Labour)
Two of the South East’s Euro MPs have this week backed campaigners’ calls for Europe to change its policy on trade deals that are bad for developing countries and the environment.
Two of the MEPs for our area, the Greens’ Caroline Lucas the Lib-Dems’ Sharon Bowles have signed a pledge brought to them by Oxford World Development Movement (WDM). The WDM is campaigning with the Trade Justice Movement to stop the EU pushing unfair trade deals with poor countries that will exploit poor people and the environment.
The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas said:
“I have signed the pledge to stop Europe’s unfair trade deals because I believe that Europe should prioritise development, environmental sustainability and human rights in poor countries. If I’m elected I will do everything I can to make sure this happens.”
Caroline Lucas (Greens) signing the trade pledge
Campaigners claim new EU trade deals will stop developing countries from being able to protect local food production and key natural resources like forests from the worst excesses of the market. And the deals could lead to more dumping of European products on developing countries – putting farmers and home grown industries out of business. The Trade Justice Movement is calling on the European Commission to review Europe’s trade strategy and place the interests of the world’s poorest countries ahead of profits for Europe’s biggest companies.
Sharon Bowles, Liberal Democrats, presenting her signed trade pledge
Julieanne Porter from Oxford WDM said:
“It’s very encouraging that these two MEPs have pledged to support our campaign to put an end to unfair trade deals. Europe is trying to negotiate trade deals that will hurt people and the environment in developing countries. It’s vital that this is stopped and that the needs of the poorest people are put first.”
Contact: Oxford WDM Press Officer, Jenny Nicholson
Notes to editors:
1. Photographs follow in separate email
2. To find out more about the campaign to stop the EU’s unfair trade deals, and see the pledge, go to www.tjm.org.uk
3. The World Development Movement (WDM) tackles the underlying causes of poverty. We lobby decision makers to change the policies that keep people poor. We research and promote positive alternatives. We work alongside people in the developing world who are standing up to injustice.
See: www.wdm.org.uk or the Oxford Group on: http://oxfordwdm.blogspot.com/.
4. Candidates present: Caroline Lucas (Greens), Sharon Bowles (Liberal Democrats), Janet Keene (Labour), Philip Vander Elst (UKIP)