|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 6 July 2018
Celebrate the first 70 years by bringing down the Tories and ending the cuts
THE NHS was the product of war and revolution, namely the slaughter of soldiers and civilians fighting fascism in World War 2, and their determination after they had beaten the fascists to seize the opportunity to bring in a better world and go forward to socialism. The bourgeois feeling of that time was that the great war hero Churchill was impregnable and that his victory in the 1945 general election was assured.
The working class had an entirely different idea and returned Labour with a massive majority, fuelled by a determination that there would be no return to the 1930s. This was expressed by Aneurin Bevan when he told the Tories in the House of Commons: ‘We are the masters now!’
Bevan brought in the NHS in July 1948.
On the first day the NHS came into being, the then health minister visited the first ever NHS patient, 13-year-old Sylvia Diggory. She recalled the meeting, saying: ‘Mr Bevan asked me if I understood the significance of the occasion and told me that it was a milestone in history – the most civilised step any country had ever taken.’ ‘The eyes of the world are turning to Great Britain,’ he said on that day. ‘We now have the moral leadership of the world.’
The creation of the NHS had faced opposition not just from the ruling class. Months before the nation’s doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians, dentists and hospitals came together as one giant UK-wide organisation, the British Medical Association had been threatening to boycott it. In a speech to Parliament about the dispute, Bevan made the case for the NHS. He said: ‘There is nothing that destroys the family budget of the professional worker more than heavy hospital bills and doctors’ bills.’
Bevan brought in the NHS and he stood by it and resigned from the Labour cabinet on March 22nd 1951 over the issuing of the first NHS cuts – charging for prescriptions and dental treatment.
In his resignation letter, he wrote about the erosion of NHS services being free at the point of delivery: ‘It is the beginning of the destruction of those social services in which Labour has taken a special pride.’
He described the working class’ creation of the NHS as ‘our proudest achievement, providing universal healthcare for all on the basis of need, free at the point of use’. Since that day, the working class has had to defend the NHS from both the rapacious Tories, and right wing Labour governments such as the Blair-Brown governments that brought in their health market and the banks, right into the centre of the NHS, with their Private Finance Initiative.
Now with another banking crash looming, and fierce trade wars ahead, the ruling class is looking to smash the NHS, so that it can divert the NHS budget into an enlargement of the military budget, a central part of their current war preparations.
They want to return the working class to the hungry, disease-ridden, life-shortening 1930s!
The deadly effect of this Tory war on the NHS was exposed yesterday by evidence that 20,000 excess deaths amongst patients have been caused by the twin Tory policies of cutting NHS funds and the rapid escalation of privatisation.
Savage cuts have been allied to an all-out privatisation programme introduced by the 2013 Health and Social Care Act which forced the NHS to open up every one of its services to tender by private companies, transferring billions of pounds of NHS funds into the pockets of the privateers.
NHS spending on care provided by private companies has soared to £3.1 billion with privateers winning 70% of all tendered NHS contracts.
Virgin Health, which pays no tax and is registered in the Virgin Islands, scooped a record £1 billion worth of contracts over the past year and now has over 400 separate NHS contracts.
The ruling class is seeking to smash the NHS and to make its 70th birthday its last.
However, its ferocious attack is actually convincing the working class that the UK is on the crossroads, and that since the choice is between having a fully-functioning NHS or capitalism, it is the latter that must go, and that the task of the working class is to deposit bankrupt capitalism into the dustbin of history via a socialist revolution.
The best thing that workers and youth can do on the 70th anniversary of the NHS is to join the WRP and the YS to organise the socialist revolution to defend the NHS and give British capitalism its last rites!
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