Socialist Worker

Uneven response to Labour's national day of action for the NHS

Issue No. 2532

Part of the march in Oxford

Part of the march in Oxford (Pic: David Matthew Bailey)

Labour Party members and health campaigners took part in a national day of action for the NHS last Saturday.

The Labour List website claims 541 events took place in “Labour’s largest ever campaigning day, outside a general election”.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at a rally in Oxford and joined local party members canvassing.

At the same time around 200 people joined a funeral procession for the NHS in the town centre.

It was organised by Labour Party members working together with Keep Our NHS Public and local hospital campaigns.

In Newham, east London, members organised a “cavalcade” alongside the Save Our NHS group, with 12 people taking part.

For many socialists in Labour, it was a chance to push out.

Natasha is a member of the Labour Party and the Labour left group Momentum in Newham. She told Socialist Worker, “Labour should be doing more of this, we’re now trying to work with other boroughs to have another national day in March.


“I’m going to go leafleting about the NHS on my estate and in front of our school in the week.”

But the picture across Britain was uneven.

In some areas, such as south London, the right wing party machine made sure the focus wasn’t on the NHS, just leafleting for Labour.

While a step in the right direction, overall it fell short of what’s necessary to defend the NHS and didn’t mobilise Labour’s mass membership.

That’s partly because it wasn’t pushed hard from the top and many are still focusing on internal battles within Labour.

It cannot just be a PR opportunity, but should be the beginning of a national campaign.

Labour should support and build the national demonstration for the NHS, which has been called by Health Campaigns Together for 4 March. 

Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Scottish Labour under fire

Unite union leader Len McCluskey attacked Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale last weekend.

He welcomed her deputy Alex Rowley’s call for Labour “to revert to its roots”.

McCluskey called for a “progressive alliance” to oust the Tories—something Dugdale opposes.

He added that workers’ unity was more important to him than the British union. He accused Dugdale of doing her party “a disservice” by backing the right’s coup against leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Electoral disasters have sown turmoil for Scottish Labour. With another defeat likely in council elections in May some are already looking to the future.

GMB union Scottish secretary Gary Smith has also said Scottish Labour fails to “sound in touch with working class people”.

But he meant it should back Trident and fracking. He also warned that “doing deals with the Tories” after May’s elections to “secure an extra few bob in expenses” would be a “disaster”.

Support for Corbyn has been muted in Scotland.

But neither Labour nor the Scottish National Party offer real resistance to the Tories. Both are implementing cuts that damage working class people’s lives.

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