Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 January 2007


NHS still needs national demo

NEARLY 300 people packed out the Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) conference on 20 January. Pensioners, 'Save the NHS' groups and health workers attended, representing the thousands who have marched in towns and villages across the country.

Many went to the conference looking for a national focus, a unifying force to take us to the next stage in the fight against New Labour to save the NHS.

Sadly, that is not what we got. The KONP leaders have done a good job in waging an ideological war against NHS privatisation and a new KONP pamphlet outlines the case well. But the leadership's understanding of how to build a mass campaign capable of winning a struggle, is unfortunately lacking.

The speakers from the KONP steering committee failed to map out a way of marrying the ideological struggle against cuts, closures and privatisation with a strategy to develop mass action.

The mood of anger displayed around the country, with thousands on the streets, is measure enough of the need for a national demonstration and the response that the call for one, by an organisation like KONP, could get. But much to many delegates' chagrin, fighting speeches were not matched with a militant plan for action. The steering committee refused to have any resolutions discussed and would not let any votes be taken.

JACKIE GRUNSELL, a GP and Socialist Party member in Huddersfield, elected to Kirklees council as a 'save our NHS' candidate last May, was told she could not move a resolution for KONP to call a demonstration in London on 3 March as a step to a bigger national demonstration in the near future. Despite this, the conference was dominated anyway by discussion about a national demonstration.

Eventually Dr John Lister, health academic and a founding member of KONP was called in to explain why KONP could not call one. He said only the trade unions and in particular UNISON, could call a national demonstration and get a respectable turnout. The KONP leaders would not go beyond support for local activity on 3 March that the regional health unions are supposed to be organising.


IT WOULD be infinitely preferable if the health unions use their authority to organise a mass struggle to defend the NHS, by calling a demonstration backed up by industrial action. We must continue to put maximum pressure on the union leaders to do this and build the confidence of NHS staff to take industrial action in defence of their jobs and conditions and against privatisation.

But what should be done when the trade union leaders try to stop a struggle from developing? The leaders of UNISON and the other big unions linked to New Labour knew that the PUSH (People United Saving Hospitals) campaign had already named 3 March for a national demonstration and they were determined to prevent it.

The union-organised London NHS Together campaign has cancelled its booking for Trafalgar Square on that day. The union leaders are petrified of upsetting New Labour in the run-up to local elections and of unleashing a national movement that challenges the government.

Like the anti-poll tax campaign and the 'stop the war' movement we therefore have to organise as best we can at a local and national level, continually linking up with rank and file trade unionists who want to save the NHS.

We can build a campaign from the ground up which is broad, democratic and brings everybody together at a national event to discuss a fighting programme for escalating the struggle. That should include calling a national demonstration.

London KONP will lobby the meeting of London NHS Together on 25 January, demanding they call a demonstration. If they do not, then London KONP should call a demonstration, like they did with the National Pensioners Convention and other groups on 1 November 2006. They can then invite everyone from around the country who wants a national demonstration to join them.

London KONP also plans to lobby a London UNISON AGM on 1 February.

In addition to this, all who want a national demonstration should hold another national meeting to discuss how to unify the NHS campaigns and agree a common strategy.

The very future of the NHS depends on seizing the time now and capitalising on the mood which exists around the country.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 25 January 2007:

Striking to defend public services

Trade unions must give a lead

War and terrorism

Iraq: build for 24 February protest

'No to the US base'

Socialist Party news and analysis

Labour's super-rich friend

Behind the bonus bonanza

Save our school buses

Support the paper that fights for a socialist future

Big Brother

Big Brother viewers reject racist bullying

New Labour hypocrites wade into Big Brother row

Endemol defends racist abuse

Workplace news and analysis

Strike ballots show willingness to fight

British Airways in more battles with workforce

London Underground workers ballot for strike over pay

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS still needs national demo

New Labour leads the big-business assault

A socialist programme for the NHS

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

When will the bubbles burst?

Socialist Students

Join the national day of protest on 22 February

Building for the 22 February Day of Action

International socialist news and analysis

Sri Lanka: anti-war organiser attacked

Workers brave regime's bullets


Home   |   The Socialist 25 January 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleSouth London health bosses' cover-up

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangleSave our NHS

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTyneside walk-in closures postponed after rally


triangleLively student demonstration for free education could have been much bigger

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong


triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleAfter the budget - unions must launch pay fight

triangleChatsworth neuro-rehab ward still open - unions join the campaign


triangleBrexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

triangleSchool staff strike against privatisation


triangleBlairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy



Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts



Two in five 'right to buy' homes now for let



Save our NHS


Them & Us

Them & Us



Uni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!



Retail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs



Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded



Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme



Branson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers



Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system



RBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks



Rough sleeping crisis: make homes, not arrests



End Tory war on poor



Nationalise rail now

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice