Defending the NHS is not a choice, it is a necessity. That was the consensus at the demonstration held earlier today outside the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Defying the chilling wind and icy rain, around 150 people from across Leicestershire gathered together to demand a better future for all — whether that be NHS workers slaving away under intolerable pressure, or patients, who are being left out in the cold because of Tory austerity.
But we did not stand alone, as Leicester’s uplifting rally was just one of many that took place across Britain as part of the “NHS in Crisis: Fix it Now!” day of protest that had been coordinated by Health Campaigns Together.
Inspired by last year’s successful NHS protest in London, which brought around 250,000 people onto the streets, it was also great to hear that tens of thousands of people were once again on the march through the capital.
Outside the Royal Infirmary, speakers from the jubilant Save Glenfield Campaign made it clear that it is only through the collective action of the working-class that we can save the entire NHS.
During the protest I spoke to a variety of people both young and old from health workers, to carers, from school children to the retired, and all recognised the need for a coordinated fightback against the Tories.
Liz Kendall’s (Labour MP, Leicester West) absence from today’s protest was significant, especially considering the support she provided to the Save Glenfield Campaign group, as the need to build on the momentum of the Glenfield victory has never been greater.
Instead it seems that Liz’s political priorities lie elsewhere, as at no point over the past month did she do anything to advertise today’s national or local protest. Instead, over the past week Liz has been busily tweeting her support for Claire Kober the disgraced anti-working-class leader (now former leader) of Haringey Council.
In her evident preoccupation with undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist leadership of the Labour Party, Liz has been constantly reiterating her Blairite desire for Labour to embrace an openly pro-capitalist Brexit policy.
Nevertheless, the actions of Labour’s Blairites who still dominate most of the Labour Party’s internal machinery are par for the course, and the vital task that now lies ahead for the working-class is to reconstruct a truly democratic Labour Party that can represent out class both in parliament, in councils, and on the streets.
2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of our National Health Service, and the Tories are doing everything in their power to ensure its death. So, let’s make this a year for the Tories and the Blairites to remember, by not only forcing the Tories from power, but also electing working-class Labour representatives who are willing to kick all private profiteers out of the NHS, and fight for democratic socialist future.
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth (MP for Leicester South) was present on the London march. Yet there can be no doubting that many other local campaigners would have loved to have joined Jonathan in London. However, tragically the Labour movement failed to organise any coaches to the protest in London; the one exception (that was organised at the last minute) was provided by De Montfort University’s Labour students who drove a mini-bus down to protest.