Good turnout of 50 Tuesday evening for the "Keep Our NHS Public" campaign meeting in Oxford Town Hall. The platform speakers were all trade unionists and, in their opening speeches, detailed the union struggles against some of the private companies that had won contracts to do work for the NHS. Some such as Balfour Beatty and Carillion were big companies from the construction industry with a long record of anti-trade unionism. The speakers described some succesful union actions to stand up to them and convincingly argued that "privatisation" in the NHS was also a way of reducing pay and conditions in the health service.
This was not a hustings meeting but any candidates present were allowed 3 minutes to put their case. First off was James Morbin, the TUSC candidate, (his first appearance). He said "No cuts", "Nationalise the drugs companies". Dr Helen Salisbury, of the National Health Action Party, said "Vote for Me as I'm standing on this single issue". County Councillor David Williamson, speaking on behalf of the Green Party candidate (who was present but didn't say anything), said he'd once been a Labour parliamentary candidate but had left to join the Greens which was now the party of the Left. He reminded the meeting that it was the last Labour government that had introduced PFI into the NHS. Our candidate, Kevin Parkin, said that there could only be a secure free health service in a socialist society and that an isolated one within a production-for-profit economy would always be under the threat of being undermined, as it was being.
In summing up, the three speakers took off their trade union hats and put on their Labour Party ones. Which meant that the case for voting Labour got much more time than given to other candidates present all together. One of the speakers was Andy Newman, the ex-Trotskyist who runs the "Socialist Unity" blog and is now the Labour candidate for Chippenham. He claimed that it was the election of a Labour government in 1997 that had saved the NHS, forgetting to add that in the 2005 general election he had stood against Labour as a "Socialist Unity" candidate in Swindon North (and got 208 votes).
Next activity in Oxford: a literature stall this Saturday at 12 noon in Manzil Way, off Cowley Road.
While in the North East, our candidate had this letter published in the local Hartlepool Mail, which covers part of the Easington Constituency:
Have Your Say
LIFE is more like a nightmare for the vast majority of people in the world today.
It is claimed that the present way society is organised is ‘civilised’ and ‘humane’.
A society that has more than two billion people going to bed hungry every night, cannot make the claims of being civilised nor humane.
A society that has hundreds of millions with no access to clean water or sanitation, cannot make the claims of being civilised nor humane.
A society that allows tens of thousands of children under five to die every day of starvation, or directly attributable disease, cannot make the claims of being civilised nor humane.
A society that can allow less than 100 people to own more accumulated wealth than the poorest 3.5 billion, cannot be seen as sane, rational, nor indeed civilised nor humane.
These obscene figures and others, are why myself and the Socialist Party are so vehement in our opposition to the present way society is organised (capitalism) and why we are just as vehement in pressing the case for a different way of organising society.
One based upon the ‘common ownership and democratic control of the means for producing and distributing what we, as human beings need to live’.
Where the Earth and everything in and on it, will belong to all people, equally, without distinction of race, sex, age or any other of the false divisions that capitalism throws up, to cloud the real issues!.
Where the watchword ‘from each according to ability, to each, according to need’ will be the overriding principle.
The Socialist Party PPC