Since the early part of the year, members of Carlisle Socialist Party and the Cumbria branch of Unite Community union have been active in the campaign to 'Save our NHS', organising support firstly for the national demonstration in London on 4 March, and subsequently for the two rallies in Carlisle on 8 April and 4 June.
Almost every week between 11 March and 4 June, and with a final session on 1 July, we held campaign stalls in Carlisle city centre, inviting the public to sign a petition in support of the programme agreed by Cumbria Health Campaigns Together: "Save our NHS! No cuts! No privatisation!"
The petition has been signed by more than 2,350 people, half of them living in Carlisle, and a quarter elsewhere in Cumbria, particularly around Brampton, Wigton, Maryport, Workington and Whitehaven, where the proposed cuts to NHS services would be especially harmful.
People from outside Cumbria are also keen to support our campaign as they rightly see the attack on our local services as part of a national plan to destroy the NHS, and many told us of their involvement in their own local campaigns.
Added impetus was given to the latter part of the campaign by the announcement of the general election, as people realised the political nature of the proposed cuts, and that the NHS and social care were the principal issues on which the election ought to be fought.
Unfortunately, the election result locally did not replace the MP for Carlisle, who has consistently failed to defend the NHS and is a loyal supporter of the government's STP ('slash, trash and privatise') programme, with one who would support the demands of the people of Cumbria to stop the cuts and closures. Nevertheless, we have decided to present to him the views of a large number of the electorate on this issue.