Legendary film director Ken Loach joined Horton campaigners and NHS supporters in a demonstration in Oxford on Saturday, July 1.
The world-renowned director, famous for films such as Kes, Cathy Come Home and I, Daniel Blake told the crowd to keep fighting and campaigning until a Labour government of fully committed MPs could end privatisation and return the NHS as a fully-funded public service.
A keen Jeremy Corbyn supporter, Mr Loach warned: “Our NHS is absolutely teetering on the edge of survival.”
The event was organised by Keep Our NHS Public Oxfordshire to celebrate yesterday’s (Wednesday) 69th birthday of the National Health Service.
Oxfordshire campaigners including Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood and A&E nurse David Bailey made speeches at a picnic in South Park before marching through Oxford city centre to St Giles.
Also in the procession were representatives of the Lincolnshire Fighting 4 Life campaign group, Keep Our NHS Public national chairman Tony O’Sullivan and the first baby to be born in the NHS, Aneura Thomas - named after NHS founder Aneuryn Bevan.
At the Martyrs’ Memorial speeches were made by historian Ciaran Walsh, Ms Thomas, NHS Roadshow star and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Rishi Dhir, Mr O’Sullivan and Mr Loach.
Mr Loach said: “Why do the Tories hate the NHS so much? It’s because they’re the party of the business interest, because they stand for profit made by private companies and that’s their standard. So when they see an organisation that’s efficient, caring, that satisfies people’s needs and no one’s making a profit then they get really worried and have to attack it.”
Mr Loach described the history of privatisation with Margaret Thatcher’s outsourcing of cleaners and catering and Tony Blair’s expansion of Private Finance Initiative, which was costing the taxpayer £300bn for £55bn worth of buildings. He described as ‘absurd’ the internal market ‘where private contractors and the NHS vie for the right to provide the service’.
“This is costing £5bn - £10bn a year, an ideological concept that has nothing to do with providing health - pure ideology - and that’s why we have to oppose it. We have a unique moment to take the NHS back,” he said.
“For the first time in the history of the Labour Party we have a leader who believes in public services, public ownership, common ownership and democratic control. We have a leadership that will properly fund and return the NHS to public ownership where everyone who works in it is directly employed and that is a massively important principle,” said Mr Loach.
“MPs must be absolutely committed to reversing the privatisation of the NHS, not just getting into power.”
He said MPs who became ministers and went on to work for health companies had no place in the Labour Party.
“Work hard, keep campaigning, keep fighting, keep the demands for full funding, ending privatisation, keeping the spirit of the age, as in 1945 when we all worked together,” he said.