Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/487/2419
'Don't become old and infirm - there might not be a bed for you!'
Socialists take on the hospital crisis in Bristol
ARMED WITH petitions opposing hospital closures and confidence in socialist ideas we began canvassing seriously in Windmill Hill on 31 March. Our election campaign of over 30 members was alone in taking up the scandal of Bristol's hospital crisis. Not only is Frenchay Acute Hospital due to be chopped, but the General Hospital, which houses 300 mainly elderly patients, is to be sold off for real estate in the next two years!
Robin Clapp Bristol Socialist Party
Over just four weeks, every hospital in the Bristol area has had to close beds due to hygiene crises. In Bath, the Royal United was closed to everyone who wasn't coming to say goodbye to a terminally-ill relative. Workers' anger is reaching breaking point. 'Don't tell us what we know already, tell us what your party can do about it' was a constant refrain we were happy to answer.
Liberal Democrat councillors, who control the council, are hell-bent on privatising the rest of the home care service, not even permitting the existing staff to tender a bid for the contract. Home care will become a way to increase shareholders' dividend margins. The message is - don't become old and infirm - there might not be a bed for you!
Meanwhile Labour's hypocrisy over home care is nauseating. They have attempted to airbrush out of memory their previous support for privatisation of the bins, school buildings, leisure centres, over half the residential care services, airport and docks. Let's not forget the previous partial privatisation of home care. Sincerity may be in short supply in New Labour, but spin still reigns!
Labour and Liberals etc were conspicuous by their absence on the doors, standing behind stalls or in fact talking with workers anywhere! With 129 votes (4.08%) and 28 people interested in finding out more about the Socialist Party we had a very successful campaign.
In canvassing we met a very warm response, demonstrated concretely by the £510.69 that poured in to our fighting fund from literally hundreds of donations. Throughout the campaign we sold the socialist and finally 'declared' on 585 sales for the four weeks.
With Firstbus workers balloting for industrial action, postal workers not far behind and 1,000 job losses unveiled at the Filton Airbus site, Gordon Brown's coronation will be overshadowed by a growing militancy in Bristol as elsewhere. The elections have revealed an interest in our ideas and upcoming events will provide more opportunities.
In The Socialist 17 May 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International Socialist Resistance
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news