YESTERDAY both Blair and Hewitt mocked NHS workers insulting their intelligence with the Hewitt line that this year was the best ever year for the NHS, with Blair giving her his full support.
He maintained his ‘keep your nerve’ line as the NHS redundancies mounted, by refusing to give a figure for the NHS deficit, while suggesting that the estimates of the numbers of redundancies were much exaggerated.
Meanwhile, NHS experts suggested that 100,000 jobs would go and a large number of hospitals would close, the price for the government’s switch from a system based on hospital treatment and care to one based on care in the community.
Hewitt met her Waterloo when she addressed the UNISON health conference. When she stood up to speak she was greeted in stony silence, cat-called and jeered during her address, and then asked questions that she was unable to deal with. It was made perfectly clear to her that conference was on one side of the NHS anti-privatisation barricade, and that she was on the other, along with the Tories and the privateers.
Today she is due to address the RCN conference where she will be given another searching examination. However, there will be no convincing the Blair Hewitt wing of the Labour Party. With their supercilious ‘we know better’ attitude, they are from the ‘let them eat cake’ school.
There is not the slightest doubt that the UNISON Health conference will vote for, at the least, a national day of action, with a national demonstration against the cuts, closures, sackings and against NHS privatisation.
There is little doubt that the UNISON national conference in June will support the call and that a large number of trade unions and trade unionists whose members’ lives depend on the NHS, will be prepared to join the action.
However, a day of action or a national demonstration will not stop the Blair government, or the private medical industry, which is determined to get its hands on the lion’s share of the NHS budget.
They will continue until they are removed, and in the case of the privateers nationalised.
The NHS trade unions must be made to take the struggle onto the general council of the TUC.
They must demand that any day of action be seen as preparation for action by the entire trade union movement to stop the NHS being destroyed by the Blair government and the employers.
The only way to save the NHS is through the trade unions calling an indefinite general strike to bring down the capitalist Blair government and bring in a workers’ government that will nationalise the private medical industry and the drug companies to finance and further develop the NHS.
Meanwhile, UNISON members must take their leader Prentis at his word, and take strike action everywhere they are threatened by redundancies, bed cuts, ward closures and hospital closures.
They must demand the full support of UNISON and take the initiative by forming Councils of Action in their areas, made up of local trade unions and community and working class political organisations to defend the local hospitals against cuts and closures.
However, it is obvious from all of the retreats and betrayals carried out by the trade union leaders that they have not got the will, the outlook or the knowledge to carry through the struggle to defend the NHS to victory.
What is required in the trade unions and the workers movement is a new revolutionary leadership, a Marxist leadership that is willing and theoretically and practically prepared to carry the struggle forward for workers’ power and socialism.
Only the Workers Revolutionary Party is building the kind of leadership that is necessary.
All workers and youth who are opposed to privatisation and capitalism should join the WRP.
In fact we urge them to join the WRP contingent on the May Day march this coming Monday