This NHS news review posting is concerned with campaigning group UK Uncut’s ‘Emergency Operation’ day of campaigning on Saturday. UK Uncut occupied banks drawing attention to the fact that bankers enjoy huge government funding while the NHS is being starved of funding and abolished. This is the first major campaign by UK Uncut since the mass arrests of UK Uncut activists at Fortnum & Mason on 26 March.
New statesman reports that that there were 40 UK Uncut actions. There are reports of arrests at Manchester and Edinburgh, Scotland. There are reports of undercover police officers attending the actions.
In an unusual show of support UK Uncut events were supported by Unite and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) unions who encouraged their members to participate. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said at the unions annual conference on 18 May “For years our union has been at the forefront of the tax justice campaign, and we are proud to support UK Uncut that has popularised our message that the real fraudsters and the real scroungers are to be found in the boardrooms not in the jobcentres.”
Rachael Maskell, Unite’s national officer for the health sector, welcomes UK Uncut’s action: “The greed of a few and the failure to regulate brought our banking system and the economy to their knees but government expects the ordinary people of this country to pick up the tab.
“We must not allow the profit-first value to destroy our NHS.
“For over sixty years, this country has upheld the principles of quality, universal care where the patient’s needs comes before private greed every time. We are now at the most worrying juncture in the NHS’ history with the government is poised to let market values rip through the service. As Bevan said, the NHS will survive as long as there are people to fight for it. Now is the moment to fight.”
UK Uncut’s Call to Action:
“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left to fight for it.”
- Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS
“Andrew Lansley. Greedy Andrew Lansley. Tosser.”
- MC NxtGen
This is an emergency. The welfare state is in peril. Under the guise of ‘efficiency’ and ‘reform’, this government is plotting to cut the NHS and sell off what’s left. Andrew Lansley has claimed the government is in a ‘listening exercise’ about the proposed NHS ‘reforms’. But despite widespread outcry from doctors, nurses and the public the government isn’t listening to anyone apart from private healthcare lobbyists.
Let’s make Lansley listen. We want to keep our healthy NHS and fix our broken banking system. Whilst the NHS is being dismantled, the banks that caused this crisis in the first place have been left untouched. Reckless gambling, obscene bonuses and a global financial crisis are symptoms of a disease that requires a drastic intervention.
The banks are due a check-up. On Saturday May 28th, join UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation and transform your local high street bank into a hospital. Tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it’s the banks that are sick.
Turn HSBC into a hospital, fill Natwest with nurses, get bandaged in Barclays and operate in RBS. As usual, it’s up to you to organise an action in your area – so talk to your friends, your local union branch and anti-cuts group and then list an action on our website. All the resources you’ll need will be on our website, including a flyer to tell the public about the NHS emergency. Get organised, get creative and let’s make Lansley listen: leave our NHS alone and make the banks pay.
See you on the high streets.
On a totally different topic: Take a look at these
- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
Protesters have been holding demonstrations outside high street banks around the UK and have succeeded in occupying a number of branches in the biggest direct action to date against proposed changes to the NHS.
The national protest, designed to draw attention to the banks’ role in creating the deficit, is being spearheaded by the anti-austerity campaigning group UK Uncut, which has been were joined by trade unionists and others.
Activists dressed in doctors’ coats and armed with fake blood had planned to enter branches and set up mock hospitals and “operating theatres”. Instead they mostly staged their protests on the streets outside when branches were closed or police kept them out.
After assembling shortly before midday in London, close to 100 protesters staged actions outside three banks in Camden and held a mock trial of the health secretary, Andrew Lansley. Other groups were able to enter a Natwest bank in Brixton and a branch of RBS in Islington and stage protests inside.
“The NHS did not cause the financial crisis – the banks did and are continuing to make billions in profits. And yet it is the NHS which is being cut,” said Candy Udwin of the Camden Keep Our NHS Public campaign, which took part in north London.
“Here in Camden there are hundreds of jobs under threat and that is why protests like this are being strongly supported.”
The protest group, UK Uncut, yesterday hosted 40 direct actions across the country – the most significant number the group has made since many of its members were arrested outside Fortnum and Mason on the March 26th March for the Alternative. Yesterday’s actions were subtitled the “Emergency Operation” on the group’s website and were directed against the Coalition’s wavering reforms of the NHS headed by Andrew Lansley.
One of the first actions to be held left Soho Square at 11am Saturday morning and I accompanied the group from its meeting point to the target of protest in Camden Town.
The UK Uncut members – dressed as medical workers, bankers and members of the judiciary – were trailed by several police, in riot vans and on foot, from their meeting point through the London Underground and to the intended target of a Natwest bank branch in Camden Town.
Upon arrival, unable to gain access to the bank due to a large police presence blocking the entrance doorway, the protesters acted out set pieces, chanted and handed out leaflets to passers-by on the pavement outside several bank branches in the Camden area for several hours in the central Camden area. The protest eventually culminated in a mock trial of Andrew Lansley.
Activists protesting against proposed changes to the NHS were arrested after briefly occupying a bank in Manchester.
Nine people were held on suspicion of breach of the peace after campaigners entered the city centre Santander.
Campaign group UK Uncut was staging a series of protests calling for the banks, rather than cuts to public services, to pay for the deficit.
The government said “every penny” saved by NHS efficiencies would be spent on front-line services for patients.
Activists targeted banks to highlight what they described as the injustice of “making people, not the broken banking system, pay for the economic crisis”.
Denouncing tax dodging by big companies and opposing cuts in public services, people took action at Boots, Vodaphone and BHS shops in Edinburgh on Saturday 28 May. Imaginative street theatre saw tax avoiding bosses detained by the Big Society Revenue and Customs Inspectors. But police acted to defend the tax-dodging criminals against Edinburgh Uncut’s protests, arresting, detaining and charging two women.
After several hours of peaceful protest at three city centre shops, police suddenly grabbed two women at British Home Stores on Princes Street. One woman fell to the ground. Police twisted her arms behind her back and handcuffed her, causing her pain and distress. The prisoners were taken to St Leonards and people quickly descended on the police station in solidarity, numbers later swelling as around 40-50 people arrived from the Reclaim the Night march. The women were released after around 5 hours in custody. Both were charged with Breach of the Peace and the woman who was hurt by the police was also charged with “Resisting Arrest”.
The police should only arrest for breach of the peace when they reasonable believe there is an imminent risk of violence. This seems unlikely to have been the case in Manchester. Certainly when Cardiff occupiers of Topshop were threatened with arrest to prevent a BOP they were doing nothing more violent than sitting on the shop floor. The officer in charge didnt seem comfortable with it either. When a legal observer gave protesters a quick briefing on the law of BOP she threw her hands in the air, and was later reported to have moaned that she “couldn’t do anything because of those bloody legal observers..’
As well as using dodgy reasons to try and arrest people, the police were also up to their old intelligence gathering tricks. While things were low key, and there was a general absence of obvious FIT cops and cameras, there were instances of systematic data gathering. Cardiff occupiers, for example, were photographed individually by uniformed and plain clothes cops using their Blackberry’s. One of them happily explained that the pictures were for the ‘intelligence log’.
There was no doubt this time about the identity of the plain clothes cops because strangely, they came and introduced themselves, giving both name and number. Their details are shown above. It’s not at all clear why they were being so candid. Perhaps they were being genuinely friendly and open. Or perhaps they identified themselves as police officers in order to get round the restrictive authorisations needed for covert surveillance. Anyway, we are happy to be able to put them on the blog.