20,000 junior doctors, medical students, health workers and supporters marched in central London yesterday. As well there were well attended marches in Belfast and Nottingham.
This is the beginning of the eruption of a giant mass movement in the UK determined to defeat attempts to impose contracts and to defend the National Health Service from the Tory drive to privatise it.
The Junior Doctors leader Malawana, told a mass rally in Pall Mall: ‘We want a safe contract for doctors and a safe contract for patients.’ Taken aback by the sheer ruthlessness of the Cameron, Osborne, Hunt gang of bankers men, he appealed to Hunt: ‘Stop attacking us. We are not the enemy. We are just health professionals who want to have a meaningful discussion. Talk to us, talk to us reasonably. Stop going to the press claiming that we are scaremongering.’
Malawana is asking the Tory leopard to change its spots, something which it is incapable of doing, since it knows no other way of dealing with its working class enemy and the trade unions.
As he spoke the mass rally showed that it knew better chanting: ‘Hunt must go, Hunt must go’ and ‘BMA, BMA, BMA’.
Consultant Dr Rob Galloway quoted Aneurin Bevan to the vast crowd saying: ‘Bevan said the NHS can survive as long as there are people who will fight for it. We will fight for it,’ he added to cheers. The essence of the current situation is that the Tory Party is determined to try to resolve the crisis of capitalism by destroying the NHS, the Welfare State and all of the great gains of the working class, driving it and the middle class back to the Dark Ages.
The converse of this position is that the great gains of the working class and the middle class – the ÑHS and the Welfare State can only be defended by the working class and the middle class organising a socialist revolution to overthrow crisis ridden capitalism and end the drive to impose slave labour contracts by bringing in a workers government and socialism.
The first step in this struggle is to resolve that the junior doctors are not going to fight alone. The BMA Annual Representative Meeting must be recalled at once to decide that all sections of the BMA will take action alongside the junior doctors. The BMA must also move to affiliate to the TUC and demand that the general council call the whole of the working class out alongside the junior doctors to sack not just Hunt but the whole Tory government to bring in a workers government and socialism.
This is the way to win the junior doctors struggle and to defend the NHS and the Welfare State by getting rid of the system that was forced by the working class to adopt them in the first place, and every day since has been plotting and planning to get rid of these great gains.
Many junior doctors at Saturday’s rally agreed that the defence of the NHS was a matter for the entire working class and that a general strike was the only real way to do it, and to win the kind of contract that the junior doctors deserve. Hunt no doubt thought that he could trick, connive and bully his way to imposing a new contract onto the junior doctors.
He has come unstuck, and he now knows that he has a gigantic fight on his hands. He can therefore be expected to act all the more ruthlessly. However there is no doubt that the junior doctors with the working class alongside them are stronger than the Tories, provided the power of the working class and the trade unions is used.
The great precedent of the power of mass action is the freeing of the jailed Pentonville 5 dockers in 1972. They had been ruthlessly jailed by the Tories under Heath’s anti-union laws. The dock workers however set out to organise a general strike and mobilised millions of workers forcing the government to find an ‘official solicitor’ to free the jailed men.
This victory was followed in 1974 by the defeat of the Heath government and the scrapping of all of his anti-union laws. This is the example to follow. The huge resistance of the junior doctors who have defied threats to impose a contract onto them, as if they were slave labour, must be supported by the entire working class through the calling of a general strike.
Victory to the Junior Doctors. Defend the NHS and the Welfare State with a general strike to bring down the Tories!