Standing Up for the NHS, the Heart of Social Justice
A large number of people attended a march and rally in west London today (Saturday 6 October) to express their rage and astonishment at the proposal to close three local A & E departments: Ealing, Hammersmith & Charing Cross hospitals*. Speakers from both the Conservative and Labour parties, trade unionists, doctors, nurses and members of the public spoke urgently and passionately about the absolute necessity of opposing this cut to public services.
The placard that was most prominent said :
“Health Cuts No Way
Make the greedy Bankers Pay“
which is a great soundbite but fails, I think, to address something fundamental.
That those in charge of banking and the banks are guilty of malpractice is beyond argument. There is a case to be made for those responsible to be arrested and charged for their crimes, but, bankers are, openly, in the business of making money, just as the car industry is in the business of making cars. Our elected representatives are not supposed to be in business at all. They are elected to fulfill the wishes of the majority of the electorate, and that majority will have been achieved as a result of a published manifesto of intent. The published manifestos of all the main political parties express wholehearted commitments to the NHS . That’s, I presume, why the Tories at the rally were willing to speak against their own party.
The current crisis has opened the eyes of millions of people to the realities of late capitalism but, so familiar has it become over 30 years of neo-liberalism, many people are unable to articulate an alternative.
There are not slick and simple answers to the dismantling of late capitalism ,not like the slick and simple answers mouthed by our politicians whilst they are dismantling our public services.
There is, as was demonstrated today, a nation of big-hearted people for whom the NHS epitomises social and economic justice. Seduced by easy ‘credit’ and mired in debt, people are gradually waking up from a pleasant dream of infinite material comfort to the nightmare of a life of material paucity and uncertainty.
The role that Occupy plays in all this is to explore the ways in which the people can find their voices and express their profound disquiet with the decisions that our politicians have made particularly with regard using our money (taxes) in unsustainable ways.
*The consultation period about these closures concludes on October 8th. The outcome is expected in February 2013. As was said at the rally –‘ this is not the end, it’s the beginning’.