2,000 people came from across Yorkshire to march in defence of the NHS, following on from a recent 8,000-strong demonstration in Huddersfield to save its only A&E from closure. There was a vibrant, angry mood as NHS users and workers came together to demonstrate.
Mary Finch, Leeds Socialist Party
Junior doctors who are currently taking strike action against unsafe and unfair contracts were out in force on the demonstration. The BMA had several speakers on the platform, highlighting the centrality of that dispute to re-launching a trade union led campaign in defence of the NHS.
The Socialist Party’s demands for no imposition of junior doctors’ contracts, and an end to cuts and privatisation, were well received. Over 60 copies of the Socialist were sold, and our lively contingent on the demonstration itself was loud and bold.
This demonstration was an important show of solidarity with the BMA, and opposition to the privateers in the NHS. But for the struggle to be successful, it must go further: all the health unions, not just the BMA, should come out on strike for the action to be even more effective. Trade unions organising outside of the health sector should also look to coordinate strike action with the junior doctors. The National Union of Teachers already looks set to make this crucial step as they plan to strike against privatisation of education.
None of these attacks are isolated – they are all part of the logic of austerity, blaming ordinary people for a crisis caused by bankers. The ‘savings’ made by cutting public services can easily be made elsewhere – by closing tax loopholes, raising taxes on the super-rich, and nationalising key sectors of the economy. 62 people own as much wealth as half the world. The money is there to fund our NHS, our education, and all public services – but it’s in the wrong hands. A united, mass movement, led by workers and trade unions, can take the wealth off the 1%, and win the fight against austerity!