The NHS 70th anniversary rally in London: A vote of no confidence in Labour and the trade unions
Paul Mitchell and Robert Stevens
2 July 2018
Saturday’s march to mark the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service (NHS) was attended by only around 10,000 people. This was far less than the up to 100,000 predicted by two of the March organisers—the Labour Party-supporting Daily Mirror newspaper and Britain’s largest trade union, Unite.
The paltry attendance necessitated a damage limitation operation, with the People’s Assembly—comprised of pseudo-left cheerleaders for the Labour and trade union bureaucracy and one of the event’s principal organisers—claiming that 40,000 and even 50,000 attended. Even were this the case, it was well down on predictions and far smaller than the rally in London in March 2017, called by the same organisations in defence of the NHS, which saw up to 250,000 attending.
Given that the destruction of the NHS and ongoing privatisation is the most important social issue for millions of Britons, the low attendance was proof that the unions and Labour both made very little effort to mobilise for the rally. Unison, the largest public-sector union, has 500,000 members in the NHS alone and well over a million overall. Unite, the UK’s largest union with 1.4 million members, claims 100,000 members across the health sector.
However, more important than any organisational failings, indifference and complacency on the part of the organisers is that the rally proved to be a vote of no confidence by millions in the unions and Labour, which despite their occasional holiday speeches pledging to defend the NHS have not lifted a finger to prevent its evisceration. The NHS…