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Over 60 doctors, nurses, health trade unionists and service users gathered outside the Leeds General Infirmary on the evening of Monday 19th March to hold a candlelight vigil for the National Health Service as the hugely controversial Health & Social Care bill is debated in Parliament.

Michael Johnson, Hyde Park & Headingley Socialist Party

Despite the huge anger and passion amongst those gathered to continue to fighting the bill for as long as it takes this wasn’t reflected in the vigil itself. Arguably this is due to the organisers of the vigil, the so-called Labour Left.

When speaking, a local Labour councillor from Headingley, Neil Walshaw, offered no plan to save the NHS beyond anti-ConDem rhetoric and following the protest tried to justify social care cuts by Leeds City Council by describing them as something that had to be done that couldn’t be help and even suggesting that they were done to promote dignity in care!

As well, in calling for the protest, Labour Left explicitly requested from Leeds Keep Our NHS Public (a group that has been actively campaigning on the NHS for years) that they not invite too many people from the left!

We have to be clear, Labour in Leeds and nationally have begun this opposition to the bill in purely out of self-interest: they continually fail to put forward any actual alternative to cuts and privatisation and as such present no alternative to the Con-dem’s.

We must continue to fight not only this bill but any future attempts to cut or privatise the NHS be it by Conserative, Lib-Dem or Labour and fight for an NHS that can provide for everyone’s health needs!