The stench of sleaze from the backdoor lobbying culminating in the Health and Social Care Act (2012) was unable to overcome the sheer sense of euphoria and triumph of optimism defeating cynicism yesterday. Yesterday was history in the making, as all political parties were put on notice:
“Whose NHS is it? It’s our NHS”.
Whilst numerous governments have elaborated at length about the politics of ownership of public services, the message from the crowd of five thousand or so, within hearing distance of the Houses of Parliament, was loud and clear.
Many famous Labour members of parliament could be seen watching proceedings as the afternoon progressed, including Diane Abbot, Clive Efford, Jeremy Corbyn, Sadiq Khan, as pictured here.
It was a very sunny day here in Central London. There was a charged sense of energy, optimism and solidarity as about five thousand people attended a pro-NHS rally in Trafalgar Square, the culmination of a 300-mile march organised by a group of mothers from County Durham.
The group from Darlington, the Darlo Mums, are opposingthe privatisation of the NHS. It was very emotional when Rehana Azam announced the names of the Darlo Mums, “the most amazing people I’ve just spent the last three weeks with.”
The warmth of the #999CallfortheNHS campaign was evident throughout the whole afternoon. The event was immaculately organised, and was a thoroughly enjoyable event for all.
About 30 people had taken three weeks to march the full 300 miles from Jarrow in South Tyneside, organisers said.
Darlo Mums founder Joanna Adams said: “It’s been magic really. You only have to look over there [at the protesters gathered] to see people are behind the NHS and support what we’re saying. Joanna Adams described the mums as “ordinary”, but I beg to differ – they are entirely extraordinary in my opinion.
Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, broke off all prior arrangements to attend, emphasising the indecency that would have occurred had he not come to represent the political party which had legislated for the birth of the NHS in 1945. Burnham’s speech was equally positive and optimistic about the future, speaking of the need to remedy public over privatisation, integration over fragmentation, people before profit, and collaboration over competition. Again, as is usual for Burnham who has great political gravitas, there was a sense of the current Government simply treading water in office until a person with substantial experience resumes office once again.
Burnham emphasised yet again that an incoming Labour government will repeal the Health and Social Care Act (2012) in its first Queen Speech, and said that it would then negotiate the UK out of TTIP, the transatlantic US-EU free trade treaty. Currently discussions are held in secret.
Sadiq Khan MP said the #Darlomums were the best England have had since 1966. As the MP for Tooting, Khan has been an ideal position to witness the effect the NHS changes have had on the nation’s capital.
Clive Efford MP described his Private Member’s Bill to repeal the damaging competition rules that the Tory-led Government inflicted on the NHS in its Health and Social Care Act 2012. The speech was very well received.
Even Dr Clive Peedell, Co-Chair of the NHS Action Party, called Andy Burnham’s speech “great”, having run 66 km himself to be there. It was announced that Dr Louise Irvine, an inner city GP and BMA council member, would be standing against Jeremy Hunt MP in the South West Surrey seat. Dr Peedell has of course seen at first hand the impact his specialty (oncology) has had on national politics, in the case of Aysha King.
And in the court of public opinion, according to the Daily Mirror last night, Dr Irvine was significantly more popular than Jeremy Hunt. We do know, of course, that the Daily Mirror do not comprise natural friends of Jeremy Hunt.
‘We keep on being told the NHS is unaffordable. THAT IS A LIE.”, said Rufus Hound. This lie has of course been one of the most powerful tools of the media who have called the consistent underfunding of services “unsustainable”.
Billy Bragg warned against blaming all cynicism on what one read in the media, saying that much cynicism was in people’s hearts – and this remained an obstacle for change.
Rehana Azam, as one of the marchers, NHS campaigner and leading light in GMB, and working mum, was one of the stars of yesterday’s event, explaining the necessary steps to get the NHS back on track.
Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith and Fulham, recounted the demolition of his local NHS services, whilst Grahame Morris gave his account, as MP for Easington, of the fight against the Tories to protect the NHS. Andy Slaughter of course has a huge following in West London, and one of the key organisers of yesterday’s event Jos Bell was obviously pleased with the success of the event together with Andy Slaughter.
And finally, Question Musiq explained how he owes his life to the fast action of the Lewisham Hospital A&E in diagnosing his burst appendix, and performed his catchy rap song. Proceeds go to the Lewisham campaign.
A huge well done to everyone! A truly inspiring and memorable event.