The long awaited national demonstration in defence of the NHS will take place on 3 November. It’s now 18 months since the decision to call a demo was made at UNISON’s health conference, but it has been an ongoing battle to make it happen. This despite the widespread popularity of such an idea with many hundreds of thousands taking part in local actions.
Local campaigns have had great successes in stopping closures and saving jobs. But its been widely understood that local cuts are only symptoms of the national decisions made to further privatise the health service. We needed a national response, focused against the government, to call a halt to these moves.
The unions have unfortunately tried to sideline the community campaigns, such as Keep Our NHS Public, and have organised separately as NHS Together. A national day of action on 3 March was very patchy and overall the impact was less than a national demo could have delivered. Even on the 3 November demonstration the publicity highlights limited aims — to celebrate and demonstrate our solidarity with the NHS. There is no clear demand to halt and reverse privatisation. Yet this is a popular demand with majority support!
We need to organise now to get people on the demo, booking transport and selling tickets. That can start to develop a different mood for the day that can challenge the low expectations of the organisers and be the launchpad of an ongoing national campaign, cohered around the principle of a publicly funded, publicly controlled and free health service for all.
Provisional details are: 11am, assemble at Temple Place, Victoria Embankment, London. Noon, march through Westminster for a 1pm rally in Trafalgar Square.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be carrying more info on the demonstration and how to build for it. Please let us know how things are going in your area and reports of any local campaigns.