Notes from the front – of 10/2/2016

Support the junior doctors – on the frontline in the battle to save the NHS!

The Tories’ attacks on the NHS are intensifying, with huge numbers of NHS staff reporting that the health service is being pushed to breaking point.

Massive cuts and privatisation are leading to A&Es being closed down, NHS waiting times increasing and attacks on NHS doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.

A letter from a doctor in Oxford, which was read out to Jeremy Hunt on the Andrew Marr Show, gives an insight into the huge strains being put on NHS staff as a result of austerity: ‘Mr Hunt has made me feel demoralized, insulted and cheap. He implies we are the problem – well I give my life to the NHS. It’s so grim on the frontline now, I sometimes work 14 or 15 hours straight without a second even to eat. I have never felt so despairing or so close to quitting medicine.’

Today (10 February) Junior Doctors are taking their second day of strike action. An overwhelming 98 per cent of junior doctors voted to strike on a turnout of over 70 per cent. They are fighting a new contract that the Tories are imposing which would see them forced to work even more anti-social hours and risk the safety of both patients and junior doctors themselves.

Alongside this student nurses are taking action this week to oppose the scrapping of the NHS student nurse bursary and introduction of tuition fees. These attacks will see student nurses burdened with as much as £65,000 worth of debt.

Public support for the junior doctors fight is rising with Ipsos MORI reporting that 66 per cent support today’s strike action.

These are key struggles in the fight to defend the NHS. Join with them in all their local protests!

Stop racism dominating the electoral agenda – build Stand Up To Racism demo

As Britain heads towards elections in May probably followed by an EU referendum, the Tories plus their leading campaigns on both sides of the EU debate are focussing on a reactionary agenda.

The Tories have made a huge shift in political focus since the General Election. The British economy is clearly now slowing so Cameron has been forced to abandon the cornerstone slogan used in 2015, of the ‘long-term economic plan’. Instead the strategy is based on the themes of immigration and security. This has been the consistent campaign focus since the Autumn, with attack after attack on immigration and Muslims to establish this as the political agenda.

Cameron’s latest tactic is to suggest a threatened influx of migrants will arrive if Britain votes to leave the EU, claiming France would abandon its agreements to ‘host’ the migrant camps near the Channel. Meanwhile his tabloid anti-EU opponents also claim the same mantle and that leaving the EU is the best way to halt immigration.

With the Tories whipping up reaction to win seats in May and in their campaigns on both sides of the EU debate, anti-racist campaigning is stepping up.

There is increased interest in fighting this current offensive. The 6 February Unite Against Fascism National Conference was a great political success and the conference overflowed, with some people having to be turned away.

The forthcoming UN Anti-racism Day march is the key opportunity in the election campaigns to mobilise opposition against this reactionary agenda. All socialists, and all supporters of equality and fighters against racism should mobilise for it.

* Stand up to racism & fascism – National Demo Saturday 19 March Assemble 12 noon London