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31 January 2018

Labour NHS rally reveals horrors but offers no way forward

Clare Doyle, Hackney Socialist Party

A rally in Central Hall, Westminster, on 25 January brought home the horrors of what is happening to the NHS, after 70 years of its treasured existence.

They were graphically illustrated by a screening of the Labour Party's recent TV broadcast and by first-hand accounts from health workers around the country, about how they, as well as their patients, are struggling for survival.

Organised by the Labour Party, it was chaired by Jon Ashworth, shadow health secretary, who confirmed the startling statistics about how rundown the service has become and also how poverty literally kills.

He said, to cheers, that "outsourcing must end" and both health and community services must be "publicly provided and publicly administered".

Earlier, Jeremy Corbyn had roundly attacked the Tory government over the crisis in the hospitals. It is no exaggeration to say that on this one issue alone, the government could be brought down and a Labour government assured of victory.

Like all the other speakers at the rally, when his turn eventually came, the Labour leader presented a depressing tale of woe and condemned the private companies who are bleeding the NHS to death.

But where was the demand for the nationalisation of these companies with no compensation for the wealthy bosses and shareholders who have made billions at the NHS' expense, including the huge profit-driven pharmaceutical companies?

Where was the call for the unions in the health service to demand, and fight for, decent wages and salaries for the hard-pressed nurses, doctors, paramedics and ancillary staff? Why was there no call from the platform to support the 3 February NHS protests?

And why did people who had bought papers like the Socialist and taken bundles of NHS campaign leaflets have them confiscated by self-proclaimed Blairites at the entrance to the hall? Security? Whose security? The shortcomings of Labour's programme on the NHS must be overcome or victory over the Tories cannot be assured.

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