A huge 'Our NHS' demonstration was passionately addressed by Jeremy Corbyn. He must be a part of the movement for change, argues Lindsey German
Just a few thoughts on the fantastic march in defence of our NHS. It was very big, the sign both of an effectively united campaign and of a mood of determination among working class people which is not reflected in national media. The mood was very militant witnessed in the reception given to the most left wing speeches, including those by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. It was great also to see and hear the amazing Mark Serwotka after his heart transplant and for him to link this issue with the rights of EU citizens here.
The demonstration was very working class in composition with many, many union banners although Unison should have done much more to build and support it. It was a cross section of society: geographically, by age, by race and ethnicity. There were lots of young health workers including some really excellent speakers.
In terms of wider politics, it was an antidote to government policies and of course cut across the divide over last year's referendum - an important point for those who want to keep rerunning that particular battle. We need to carry the fight forward not just on the NHS but over education cuts and all the other attacks which May is forcing through - and including fighting racism and demanding rights for EU citizens.
Round the NHS itself, we need to raise the bar. We should think about strike action in defence of it, and a mass day of action on July 5 the NHS birthday. It's a class issue and one which unites us across different unions and campaigns and it can also be a key to rebuilding the unions.
The People's Assembly of which I'm part, played a very big role here and we can help carry this fight forward. The left has got to get stuck into these campaigns. They will among other things help shape the nature of British society and can force the Tories back.
There has been talk of a new protest movement which isn't linked to Corbyn. That wasn't the mood today where many marchers clearly saw his leadership as critical and wanted the maximum unity. Too right.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- Palestine: a movement reborn - weekly briefing
- Labour: how to make a drama out of a crisis - weekly briefing
- The perpetual failure of Keir Starmer – weekly briefing
- Privatisation is the engine of cronyism and corruption – weekly briefing
- The price we pay for the prince – weekly briefing
- The Individual and Collective in Women's Liberation - video
- Police bill: the protestors aren’t for turning – weekly briefing