Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where next for NHS campaign?

I was pleased to be alongside more than a thousand health workers at the NHS Together lobby of Parliament yesterday. Opinion poll evidence confirms that voters share the scepticism of health workers about the pace and direction of the Government’s “reforms” of the NHS.

This followed a larger lobby attended by over two thousand trade unionists in the summer and organised by the Public Services Not Private Profit campaign. There is no doubting the scale of popular opposition to privatisation (even though Tony Blair continues to believe in it…)

The question which faces the trade unions now is how we mobilise that opposition. If we don’t there are others who will. (A health warning should be attached to that last link because it goes to the Tory campaign to defend the NHS – for which there really should be a special award for hypocrisy).

The TUC has already agreed to organise a national demonstration to defend the NHS. We have to make that a success. To do this some sections of our leadership need to overcome their reluctance to work with grassroots campaigns. Trade unionists should be establishing joint union bodies to fight privatisation across the board – utilising trades councils where these exist or establishing local Public Service Not Private Profit groups to work together across union boundaries and with community campaigns against all forms of privatisation.

We also need to break with the politics of quietly influencing our enemies – even if we think they are listening to us. We need to back an alternative approach.

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