Enjoyed a lovely rally at lunchtime today, joining the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders at Sheffield station to celebrate their third birthday – and their victories.
The campaign began when free train travel for elderly and disabled people was removed in South Yorkshire, despite it continuing in London and many other parts of the country.
Here’s a report of one of their protests from 2014 – some of the police involved are today facing disciplinary action.
But today was in large part a celebration – complete with cake, for the Riders have won considerable victories – the restoration of free travel for disabled people, and half-priced fares for the elderly.
They’re not resting on their laurels however, and were in fine voice, both chant and song, demanding the restoration of free travel.
I was delighted to speak at the rally, and urged them the Freedom Riders that when they win their direct cause, they should continue to campaign – for railways run for public good, not private profit in particular. (This on the day that we learned a Chinese company – effectively an arm of the Chinese government – has been granted part ownership of a UK franchise).
There was also a speaker from Keep Our NHS Public – a reminder that this is part of a broader struggle, against the disastrous model of privatisation of public services that’s shovelling public money into private hands, cutting the pay and condition of workers and the quality of services.
And a great reminder from one speaker that campaigners need to stick together. She writing urged those present not to downplay other’s campaigns but to acknowledge that everyone does what they can, on issues that touch and move them.