GPs must follow junior doctors lead and strike to defend contracts and defend the NHS!


VERY ANGRY BMA GPs met in conference on Saturday where they carried motions to fight ‘underfunding’ and a rapidly growing workload that ‘threatened NHS safety’, while Motion 20 said that ‘the GPC should canvass GPs on their willingness to submit undated resignations’.

Many delegates complained about the watered down motions, and others that had been ruled out because they contained the dreaded words ‘industrial action’. One delegate said about the conference and Motion 20, ‘It’s restricted our ability to say what we really feel and what we really need with watered down motions.

‘We don’t want to consult on a ballot, we want to force them to do it. Motion 20 is nonsense, it does not give the GPC power to effect change.’

In fact right at the start of the conference the chairman Guy Watkins, donned his policeman’s helmet, and warned ‘GPs can’t break the law’.

He said: ‘There can be no call for industrial action that is not legal. It is my job to stop you breaking the law.’ He further claimed that: ‘I’ve had advice from the BMA legal department and industrial action would be unlawful.’

There is nothing unlawful about GPs taking industrial or strike action as they did over the pensions issue. If it is illegal for doctors to take action to defend their contracts, and to defend the NHS, while it is perfectly legal for the Tories to smash and privatise the NHS – then we are all slaves.

What dominated the BMA conference was the massive junior doctors strike action and struggle, their refusal to allow their struggle to be sold out, and their determination that if the government will not capitulate to their just demands they will be out on strike on February 10th.

Once again the BMA leaders acted like policemen for the Tories as they held the conference in check and ruled out and changed motions that would have meant the prospect of the GPs taking industrial action alongside the junior doctors.

There is not the slightest doubt that the junior doctors strike has hit the Tories hard, and also rattled the reformist BMA leadership. Both are determined that the junior doctors struggle will not spread to the GPs, then to the other NHS trade unions, then to the trade union movement as a whole.

This is why the BMA leaders policed their conference to make sure that no ‘illegal’ industrial action saw the light of day and was carried. This is why there was no motion of full support for the junior doctors struggle and no declaration that the BMA would see to it that all attempts to impose contracts on NHS workers would be defeated.

The truth of the matter is that the policy of ‘resignations’ cannot defeat the Tories – it can only convince them that the BMA is on the run. What the Tories are terrified about is the prospect for united action by the junior doctors, the BMA as a whole and the NHS trade unions to smash all attempts to impose contracts, lengthen hours, cut pay, and to defend the NHS.

What the Tories fear is that on February 10th the junior doctors will come out again, and this time they will be joined by masses of workers in a general strike that will shake the Tories to their foundations.

The BMA bureaucracy policed its conference to try and do a Canute and prevent this rising tide of struggle. The junior doctors struggle shows for all to see that the masses of younger workers are revolutionary in their instincts and perspectives and will not allow the basic gains of the working class achieved since the end of the Second World War to be smashed.

The key to the victory of the working class is the building of a new and revolutionary leadership that will replace the tired and fearful bureaucrats of the BMA and the TUC trade unions with a new and revolutionary leadership which will lead the struggle for the defence of the NHS and take it forward to the socialist revolution to get rid of out of date and backward capitalism and replace it with socialism.

The NHS is one of the greatest gains of the working class, its defence must be the basis for organising the socialist revolution to get rid of backward capitalism and drive forward the struggle for world socialism!