An early start to the day for myself, my hubby and our 8 year old son Teddy to get ourselves to London for a 12 noon meet in Tavistock Square for the start of the #OurNHS demo. We left Devon before 7am, and in the rush of getting out of the door left our banner behind! The roads were wonderfully clear and we made good time, arriving in London by 10.30am. Bags dropped off at our accommodation we headed for the tube to Euston.
Stepping out of the station at Euston one could be forgiven for thinking this was the meeting place for the start of the demo, as everyone had banners, t shirts and hats that gave the message #OurNHS, there were hundreds right there just outside the station. As we headed down the road to Tavistock Square we could see this was going to be a huge demonstration. People had come from all over the country, with banners, with face paints, with a sense of pride for #OurNHS - and the clear message was GET YOUR DIRTY HANDS OFF #OURNHS - our forefathers built it, we will not see it destroyed! We walked amongst the banners, and met up with others from the South West.
We joined the march with the UNISON bloc (this being my union), and set off marching at 1240 hrs. The march went through the centre of London, passing lots of famous sights. We enthusiastically joined in the singing and chanting 'You say cut back we say fight back' ' Who's NHS? Our NHS!' 'We say Hi, We say Ho, Jeremy Hunt has got to go!' The atmosphere was carnival like, with drumming, music and singing throughout the march. It was a day of celebrating all that is great about our NHS, a big part of the message being about our European staff within the NHS being welcome to stay and work here.
We took a breather in Trafalgar Square, sitting by a fountain for around ten minutes to have a drink. The march just kept going by, hundreds of thousands of people all there to defend #OurNHS. We rejoined the march and two hours and fifteen minutes after setting off we arrived at Westminster. There were speakers there who included Len McClusky, Mark Serwatka & Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy told us 'The NHS is not in crisis because of overspending, it is in crisis because of underfunding - a crisis that was created in Downing Street! Defending the NHS is defending a basic human right, a basic human value. Defend the NHS with all of your might!'
We left Westminster with hope in our hearts. As Nye Bevan said 'the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it'. We met folk today who have the faith to fight for it, at least half a million of them! And none of them are willing to see the NHS be sold off to private 'for profit' companies without a fight.
Now it's time to return to Devon, and bring this defence of the NHS home with us. We need to discuss in our branches and in our CLP's what we can do next and what we can do locally to fight for the NHS.