Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/980/26804

From The Socialist newspaper, 31 January 2018

Editorial of the Socialist issue 980

NHS: use the 3 February protests as a launch pad for a mass movement

Save our NHS demo 4.3.17, photo Mary Finch

Save our NHS demo 4.3.17, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

"If we have made history, so be it. Someone had to make a stand." These were the words of shop steward Joan Foster to our predecessor paper, Militant, in January 1988. Joan was one of 40 nurses who walked out at North Manchester General hospital in response to an attempt to take away their unsocial hours payment.

Our article about the unofficial strike reported the massive local support that rushed to the impromptu picket line, including firefighters and workers from nearby factories. But the effect went much wider. The walkout detonated a national mass movement against Thatcher's NHS cuts, which culminated in a TUC demonstration in London that March of in excess of 100,000.

Now, virtually 30 years later to the day, thousands will be marching and protesting in London and across the UK in response to the crisis that has escalated in hospitals over the winter. Of course, the Tories are attempting to blame the increased pressures on the cold weather and Australian Flu. But actually these pretty normal factors have only brought the issues of cuts, understaffing and bed shortages to the surface - or rather to hospital corridors, or even the inside of parked ambulances outside A&Es, waiting for a vacant bed.

Potential

The demonstration on 3 February could be very big and Socialist Party members around the country have been working to build the turnout. But given the outrage of ordinary people at the state of the NHS, it could have been gigantic.

The London demonstration was organised at short notice by Health Campaigns Together (HCT) and the People's Assembly. Activists, including ourselves, have spread the word. But the leaders of the unions and also the Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell should have put themselves at the head of the march from the start. We called on them to organise for Labour and the unions to pay for trains and buses from every area and to take out paid adverts in daily newspapers.

Unfortunately, even when addressing a Labour Party rally on the NHS in Westminster nine days before, Corbyn didn't mention the demonstration. There is a real danger that the leaders of Labour and the unions leave the struggle against this weak and divided Tory government to merely waiting for it to implode.

Last March, on the proposal of Socialist Party members in HCT, a demonstration was organised against the planned 22 billion Tory health cuts contained in their sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and well over 100,000 were mobilised.

The capitalist establishment is extremely wary of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government because of the expectation it can arouse among working class people. This fear was reflected in the capitalist media's response to the Carillion scandal. In its editorial 'Carillion's failure does not vindicate Corbyn,' the Financial Times voiced the venom of big business against any threat to the neoliberal privatisation agenda of the last three decades or more that was started by Thatcher and then continued under New Labour's Blair and Brown.

This is a harbinger of the relentless pressure the capitalist class and its media will attempt to exert on a Corbyn administration. But the working class will be in the strongest position to resist such attacks on a left programme if the Tories are pushed out of office as a result of a mass movement.

Such a movement can be built now. 3 February must be the beginning, not the end. It can tap into the huge anger that has built up after a lost decade of workers' living standards and seven years of Tory austerity. The Corbyn surge in the general election as a result of radical policies such as public ownership, abolition of tuition fees and a 10 an hour minimum wage, is itself a reflection of the mood that exists.

The fall of Carillion has further exposed and discredited the parasitic privatisation that is rife in the NHS and across the public services and ratcheted up the anger even more.

Unite the struggles

After 3 February, the TUC, unions and the Labour leadership have to meet urgently. They should set the date for a Saturday London demonstration. The planned TUC one in May should be brought forward. It must bring together the defence of the NHS with the fight for a decent pay rise.

The civil servants' union PCS has the mandate for a strike ballot on pay after its consultation ballot last autumn. Both Unite and Unison are now recommending rejection of the Tory pay offer in local government. Lecturers' union UCU is starting strike action next month to defend the pensions of university lecturers. The waves of strike action at local and sector level over the last six to nine months show the preparedness of workers to act if a lead is given.

Over the last few years, we have already seen different groups of health workers take action, from midwives to radiographers, to junior doctors - some for the first time in decades, others for the first time in their history. Last summer, even the traditionally non-strike union the Royal College of Nurses organised protests and a consultative ballot over pay.

Back in 1988, on the front page of our paper for the 4 March TUC demo, we carried an article by the late John Macreadie, Militant supporter and CPSA (now PCS) deputy general secretary. He was also on the TUC general council and unapologetically used that position as a platform to put pressure on the other union leaders and to appeal for action. He wrote: "At the last TUC general council meeting, I asked 'what next?' The Tories could ride out one demonstration... I urged that it [the demo] should be used to launch a one-day general strike."

The demonstration on 3 February in London and national day of action has to be the platform for a mass movement that can inflict a terminal defeat on the Tories.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

In The Socialist 31 January 2018:


Save our NHS

NHS: use the 3 February protests as a launch pad for a mass movement

NHS we're ready to fight

Northern health campaigns conference discusses the fightback

8,000 strong petition opposes closure of Sheffield health services

Labour NHS rally reveals horrors but offers no way forward

Leicester NHS protest


Opinion

Trump as Nixon: urgent questions about press freedom and the state

Capitalism v cricket


Women's liberation

For workplace trade union organisation against sexual harassment

Presidents Club sexism scandal: what you thought

100 years since women won the vote


Socialist Party workplace news

Victory for Hackney school cleaners!

Local government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

University workers' walkout for decent pensions

Merseyrail protest

Supermarket's slash jobs - union fightback needed

Cammell Lairds strikers demand improved pay and conditions


Socialist Party news and analysis

Labour civil war re-erupts over Haringey regeneration project

Tory infighting escalates - workers' action can oust them

Failing academy chain strips school assets - end academisation!

Capitalists fear for their system at Davos

Majority of kids poor in some areas


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fat cat vice chancellors schooled by Brum students

Confident London Socialist Party conference discusses key issues

Your newspaper fights with you: help fund it with May Day greetings

Bristol anti-cuts campaigners debate alternatives to the cuts


International socialist news and analysis

Stop the war on the Kurds

Sudan: Free Mohamed Satti

Vienna: 50,000 march against racism and austerity


 

Home   |   The Socialist 31 January 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

NHS:

triangleWakefield Socialist Party: NHS and the coronavirus crisis - a socialist way forward

triangleGoing viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

triangleNHS supply chain worker: privatisation has cut equipment quantity and quality

triangleNHS workers speak out: austerity has left us unprepared

trianglePPE, Tests, Full pay - for all now

The Socialist:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: The role of the Socialist paper and social media

triangleBuilding the Socialist Party

triangleHelp us continue to fight for workers and socialism

triangleLike what we say, help us keep saying it - fund the Socialist

Socialist:

triangleBradford Socialist Party: Trotskyism and the Second World War

triangleBradford Socialist Party: 'The State and Revolution'

triangleBradford Socialist Party: US, Trump and Coronavirus

Demonstration:

triangleLondon demo: Protect the right to strike

triangleMarches, blockades, strikes, occupations... How can protests win?

Labour:

triangleLabour must resist 'Covid coalition'

TUC:

triangleUnion independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

Strike:

triangleRefuse collection workers strike

Unions:

triangleNew laws: Unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

Tories:

triangleCapitalist crisis and Corona: Johnson's budget for the bosses

Health:

triangleCollective action becoming necessary to ensure safety and vital deliveries

Carillion:

triangleCapitalism fails NHS services in Liverpool: scrap PFI!

Nurses:

triangleEnd health and wealth divide - Fight for our NHS

Privatisation:

triangleUnder the microscope: socialist coronavirus news in brief

Militant:

triangleCouldn't pay, wouldn't pay, didn't pay: the battle to defeat the poll tax

Socialist Party:

triangleBradford Socialist Party: 9/4 - Hungary and the threat of the far right

Labour leadership:

triangleCouncil cuts could cost Labour another general election

Hospital:

triangleGoing viral: Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleAnti-academy strikes kick off in Redbridge

Public services:

triangleMore than ever, we need accountable union leaders

Public ownership:

triangleToo little too late

Austerity:

triangleFully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children

John McDonnell:

triangleDefend the right to strike! RMT and NSSN lobby parliament

John Macreadie:

trianglePCS Left Unity chooses Chris Baugh - unite behind the left AGS and NEC slate

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

1/4/20

Coronavirus

As coronavirus crisis intensifies, class antagonisms deepen

1/4/20

Coronavirus

PPE, Tests, Full pay - for all now

1/4/20

Coronavirus

New laws: Unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

1/4/20

Coronavirus

Labour must resist 'Covid coalition'

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief

31/3/20

Coronavirus

NHS workers speak out: austerity has left us unprepared

31/3/20

Coronavirus

Capitalism means empty shelves, food insecurity, and soaring profits - the case for a socialist alternative

31/3/20

Coronavirus

NHS supply chain worker: privatisation has cut equipment quantity and quality

30/3/20

Coronavirus

Schools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus

25/3/20

Coronavirus

We need tests for all now! Nationalise production and research

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus plunges capitalism into global turmoil

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus crisis: Tests, full pay and funding - for all now

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Union independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

25/3/20

Coronavirus

State intervention shows what is possible

25/3/20

Care workers

Social care: "Not good enough by miles"

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999