Tredegar march for the NHS

People's March for the NHS comes to its birthplace

Tredegar NHS.jpg

About 500 people marched on St. David's Day to celebrate and defend the NHS at its birthplace in Tredegar. It was the model of health provision in Tredegar that NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan, used as a template for the NHS. The mood of the march was pride at Britain's greatest institution, but also anger at the vultures attempting to break it up.

At the rally there were speeches by the great and the good. A number of speeches by Labour politicians extolled the virtues of the NHS, but sought to forget the part played by Labour in beginning the privatisation of NHS services in England. The only mention of the problems in the Welsh NHS was in reference to Cameron's cynical manipulation of its failings to attack the NHS in England. Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith couldn't make the rally becasue he was watching the rugby.

It was left to a Socialist Party member to bring a bit of reality into the rally speeches. She castigated the cuts to the NHS in Wales and exposed the private companies exploiting the NHS in Wales as well as England. And she made a rousing defence of socialism "The NHS was the only truly socialist reform made in this country and its no coincidence that it is the most popular instituion. That's why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coaltion is standing in the general election - to provide a socialist alternative to the other pro-capitalist parties". At this point the speech was cut short and she was asked to finish.

This had been preceded by an emotional defence of the NHS by Michael Sheen which you can see here. Michael had also critcised Labour governments and made a passionate case for fighting for the NHS. "No one says they want to get rid of the NHS, everyone praises it. But for decades now there has been a systematic undermining of its core values. This is beyond party politics. The Labour government arguably did as much damage to the NHS as any Tory or coalition-led one."

There was a warm response to the material from TUSC. A number of people signed up to be TUSC supporters and one person applied to join the Socialist Party. 50 copies of the Socialist were sold

Dave Reid

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