December 2012        

Anglo: not our debt

The initial reaction I had towards the title of this conference was almost enough to put me off going in the first place. It was clear that only a cancellation of the debt was going to be discussed, rather than an actual repudiation of the debt, that is to say, a refusal to accept the debt as being ours.
      Choice of language is crucial on this issue, and mincing around with words like “cancellation” and “default” reveals an all too conventional position. Nevertheless, the Repudiate the Debt Campaign went along with an open mind to gain an understanding of a wide range of views on the issue.
      My reaction at first was positive, and I noticed that a majority of the people at this political meeting were women. There was much talk about global debt and the collaboration of ordinary people with the trade unions in calling a general strike on 1 March 2013, to coincide with the next illegal payment of €3,600 million to be paid to the bond-holders.
      We had the usual anti-union rant from one participant, but no contribution from the religious orders; it would have been interesting to hear their views on the issue. It was obvious that some do not keep up with political times, as they constantly knocked all the trade unions.
      Yet in the last few weeks the TEEU has come out in support of repudiating the debt (and I was surprised that its representative at the meeting did not stand up and say so).
      A very interesting talk was given by Dot Keet of the Africa Trade Network and Transnational Institute, who clearly articulated the politics of debt and outlined some historical narrative.
      All in all it was a frustrating day, but lessons were learnt, and hopefully we will be able to work on raising the debt question for a larger audience in the future. This issue would become more relevant to people’s lives as Budget Day approached.

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