Horsforth Against the Cuts (HAC) organised a lobby of Conservative MP Stuart Andrew on Saturday 18th June outside Morrisons on Horsforth Town Street. Twenty people from the community including several newcomers following the NHS public meeting, which Socialist Party member Jackie Grunsell gave a well received talk on the NHS reforms potential devastating effects, were in attendance and the mood was resolute and confident.
Andy Smith, Aireborough & Horsforth Socialist Party
Following a month of collecting signatures in the community on HAC and Socialist Party stalls over 1300 signatures were handed to Stuart Andrew, even following the revision of the NHS reforms with demands of further reforms and the total removal of competition based markets entering into the NHS. Andrew attempted to reassure people that the reforms would not allow the “free at point of delivery” essence of the NHS but could offer no further understanding or assurances that the provision would not be by private providers.
After several questions from the protestors, Joel Smith from HAC suggested that as people are not being given the right to reply and the community have not been consulted, as well as the NHS reforms never appearing in a pre-election manifesto but £20bn of cuts are planned, that there should be a local referendum to assess the feeling of the local people and indeed his constituents about the NHS reforms before he continued to support Andrew Lansley’s vicious assault on the NHS. He responded suggesting that it would not be possible or financially viable for him to find out the opinion of his constituents before removing and altering vital services.
HAC has an incredible place in the community now and have also played a vital part in providing information about the cuts to the local community. This showed during the lobby as several onlookers listened in and followed Andrews departure with questions of their own from the group. In this instance it seems that the community would seek information from a group of activists, supporting strikes and saving the NHS, before they would ask a conservative MP even when he is stood right in front of them answering questions.