Preventing People From Attending Donald Trump Rallies Is Undemocratic

Donald Trump Protesters - St Louis

Shutting down political rallies with the threat of violence and blocking public access to hear a political candidate speak is not behaviour worthy of any citizen of a democracy

People have every right to feel alarmed or even scared about the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. This blog believes that a Trump presidency, were he to secure the Republican nomination and win the general election, would be jarringly populist at best and economically ruinous at worst, though I dismiss any alarmist talk that Trump is in any way equivalent to the Nazis or other genocidal fascists.

Such hyperbole from anti-Trump activists is thoroughly unhelpful at a time when tempers are already flaring on both sides. After all, if you are a supporter of Donald Trump then having an angry college student yell in your face that you are supporting the new incarnation of Hitler will likely make you quite unreceptive to engaging in further debate and potentially being persuaded to change your views.

But the invective (on both sides) and hand-writing hysteria (primarily from the anti-Trump crowd) are nothing compared to the more blatantly anti-democratic methods by which some liberals are now attempting to shut down Donald Trump’s message rather than take it on in the battle of ideas.

The Huffington Post reports that some demonstrators are now attempting to block public access to Donald Trump rallies to prevent his supporters from hearing him speak, under the banner “Shut Down Trump”:

Protesters on Saturday blocked the roads leading to a Donald Trump rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

[..] An ABC 15 anchor reported at least three people had been arrested in connection with the protests. Deputy Joaquin Enriquez, a spokesman for the Maricopa County sheriff’s office, told ABC 15 the arrests were for blocking the road, not protesting.

The roadblock didn’t stop some determined people from getting out of their cars and walking to Trump’s rally.

Tomas Robles, executive director of Living United for Change in Arizona, a workers’ rights organization, told HuffPost that law enforcement was cooperative and treated protesters fairly. He said some Trump supporters “did try to get get aggressive,” but they were not violent.

“It was a peaceful protest, we got our point across, and we showed the nation and our state that just because Arizona at a time has been seen as anti-immigrant and somewhat racist, this is not that state anymore,” he said. “We’re not going to allow people like Trump to spew that rhetoric.”

Note the authoritarian tinge to the words of Tomas Robles, one of the protesters quoted by Huffington Post. Because he and his organisation disagree with Donald Trump, they are “not going to allow” him to air his views in public – at a political rally of all places, that most sacrosanct of venues in terms of the necessity for free speech.

While the rally in question went ahead, the demonstration prevented many Trump supporters from attending and forced others to abandon their cars and walk the rest of the way to the venue:

 

Hilariously, the Huffington Post – clearly sensing that running a story about liberal activists interfering with a political rally might not sound terribly progressive – felt the need to add the following editor’s note to the end of the article:

Editor‘s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

The obvious implication of this note is that it is perfectly appropriate and justified to stifle and attempt to shut down some forms of speech, and that we shouldn’t think badly of the protesters because they are waging war against a bad person who thinks the wrong things as opposed to a good person, “one of us”, who holds the correct beliefs and whose speech should be protected.

Or in other words: “Don’t worry, Trump and his supporters had it coming. They are bad people”.

The furious liberals outraged at the rise of Donald Trump need to realise that their usual tactic of shouting, screaming and now blockading things that they dislike is actually feeding – not killing – the beast. Maybe they do realise, but simply don’t care. Maybe the opportunity to signal their own moral virtue by ostentatiously raging against Trump is all that they care about.

But until Trump’s most ardent enemies on the Left learn to use their words rather than their fists they will only succeed in undermining free speech and American democracy, making Trump stronger all the while.

 

Donald Trump Rally

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90,000 Followers, In Search Of A Leader

TUC Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration Anti Capitalist Protester SPS

 

Bring back Russell Brand, all is forgiven.

The comedian turned author was actually present at Saturday’s “Britain Needs A Pay Rise” demonstration in central London, showing his solidarity by marching with a contingent from the Royal College of Nursing and posing for pictures with the crowd at the rally in Hyde Park.

But good old RustyRockets appeared in a strictly unofficial capacity – in sharp contrast to his star billing at the People’s Assembly “March For The Alternative” anti-austerity protest in June, where he was rashly installed as the ceremonial figurehead of the socialist movement. And by the end of the day’s proceedings it was clear that the ideal quantity of Russell Brand to spice up your mass demonstration lies somewhere between these two extremes.

The TUC march drew up to 90,000 people onto the streets of London in support of their calls for a higher and more rigorously enforced minimum wage, and in opposition to various coalition government policies. This was almost twice as many as the People’s Assembly march back in June. And yet somehow it felt rather flat and underwhelming by comparison.

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Britain Needs A Pay Rise – If At First You Don’t Succeed…

TUC Britain Needs A Pay Rise Demonstration SPS

 

Back in June of this year 50,000 angry people stomped through central London and held a rally in Parliament Square, while nobody else paid them the slightest bit of attention.

When the People’s Assembly “Demand The Alternative” march against austerity failed to achieve top billing on the BBC and Sky evening news bulletins (or to make the cut at all), aggrieved protesters took to the internet with wild claims of an establishment conspiracy and sinister media cover-up.

This blog responded by observing that protest movements that deny basic economic realities, sulkily view their opponents as two-dimensional cartoon characters and choose Russell Brand as their figurehead don’t really deserve the attention or respect of the wider public, let alone hold a legitimate claim to speak for the rest of us.

Defeated, the activists retreated to plan their next move. And now they’re back for Round 2.

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The NHS Jarrow March Protesters, In Their Own Words

SOS NHS Jarrow March

 

It is easy to learn precisely what the people marching from Jarrow to London in support of the NHS do not want. To their credit, the protesters make their immovable red lines very clear indeed.

No privatisation, ever. Anyone who even thinks about delivering a healthcare service to the public must receive their pay cheque from the government and not a private employer.  No cutbacks, ever. Services can only ever expand and grow, even if they are poorly geographically located or less essential than they once were. And most importantly of all, no Tories are to go anywhere near the NHS.

By contrast, you have to search the internet long and hard to find examples of what the #MarchForNHS protesters actually support in any detail at all, beyond the most primal, inchoate instinct to keep spending money on an unreformed artefact from 1948.

The 999 Blog999 Call For The NHS’s collection of personal testimonies from the marchers – contains a lot of emotional accounts and expressions of gratitude for having been successfully treated in an NHS hospital, but it is generally deficient in explaining why privatisation is inherently bad and why centralised state ownership is the only model worth pursuing.

As this blog has already noted, many of the protesters have moved quite a long way from the founding vision of the NHS toward a more muscular but unthinking form of socialism that reflexively defends state ownership with almost no regard for health outcome consequences.

Since the British left’s most prominent politicians are unwilling to spell out exactly what they would do to improve healthcare in Britain – beyond preserving the unsatisfactory status quo for ever – the Jarrow marchers are some of the most credible voices from the left participating in the debate. Ed Miliband is certainly happy to exploit individual instances of NHS reorganisation to win strategic advantage in target constituencies, but good luck getting him to tell you his overall vision for the British healthcare system.

So, as the only voices on the left willing to express an opinion, what exactly are the NHS Jarrow marchers saying? Here is a summary, together with some essential counterpoints that should be considered by anyone who believes that good quality healthcare is more important than any emotional attachment to a government bureaucracy.

On a personal note, my youngest daughter was admitted to the special care baby unit when she was born with breathing difficulties. Without that care and support she would have died. Only the NHS can provide this. This service, like so many others in the NHS, was threatened with closure – Steven Sweeney, lifelong NHS employee

And more in the same style:

I know how the NHS has helped me. I was born in an NHS hospital with no complications for me or my mother. As a baby my elbow was dislocated, and an NHS doctor popped it back in place. As a toddler I was treated for severe asthma, which thanks to the NHS is no longer a problem for me. My father was treated for a heart attack and had life-saving heart bypass surgery.

Incredibly 10 years on, he is in excellent health. I have no idea how we could have possibly afforded to pay for his open heart surgery had the NHS not existed. And now I have the privilege of working with NHS doctors and scientists to hopefully find the next treatment for heart disease – Dr. Anusha Seneviratne

Fancy that. Someone was born in an NHS hospital and received treatment or minor ailments throughout their life without major incident, and from this heartwarming tale we are supposed to extrapolate that anywhere else in the western world, babies are routinely born in dumpsters and euthanised in the event that they dislocate a joint. This testimonial – from a doctor, most worryingly of all – is weak praise for healthcare in general, but has absolutely nothing to say about why the NHS is uniquely suited to deliver it.

In the day time on a ward there is a mass flurry of activity and a range of noises of people, equipment, talking, crying and laughter, and buzzers are muted, yet on a night the buzzers sound louder and appear to be rung often, and often. Whilst I sat with my dad I could hear staff moving around the ward making patients comfortable, caring and reassuring patients who felt scared for being there in the first place. I spent most of the night just listening to my dad breathe. It was reassuring – Rehana Azam, 999 Call For The NHS Co-founder

There is something almost unseemly about using the traumas and emotional family experiences of the general public to build support for a government bureaucracy in this way. What Rehana Azam describes here (in a moving account of her father’s hospitalisation and death) are the functions of any modern hospital, not just a publicly-owned and operated one. But taking this natural gratitude for lives saved or made more bearable and turning it into publicity for a campaign to prevent modernisation of Britain’s largest employer does nothing to advance the serious conversation that Britain needs.

We have a local vested interest in preserving the NHS as it is: the miners of Mansfield and district helped build it through their taxes, believing it would be there for themselves, their children and grandchildren and the common good – Sophie Hebden, bystander

Yes, we all “helped build the NHS” through our taxes – as we did the Navy, our schools, the road network and our nuclear deterrent. That’s how governments do things – they raise revenue by taxing the population, and then spend the revenues (hopefully) on services that promote the common good. But again (and this response seems typical of many bystanders who find themselves supporting the marchers without really being able to articulate why) it gives no reason as to why healthcare could not be provided free at the point of use using a different or improved model.

Yesterday I received a letter from my uncle in the US – “something to use for your campaign”. It contained his most recent medical bill for his cancer treatment. It made difficult reading, because it was such a stark reminder of how poorly he is. But it also made me angry on his behalf, and more determined than ever to fight this, and spread the word. Because there is a danger that we’re sleepwalking towards that situation here ourselves. I don’t want our healthcare to take even one step down that path – Emma Tyers, volunteer National Coordinator

No one in their right mind would advocate moving towards the example offered by the “best healthcare system on the face of the Earth”, as some myopic Americans wrongly view their awful creation. But the choice Britain faces is not some extreme binary contest between legions of undertreated uninsured people on one hand, and our tattered but plucky nationalised system on the other.

There are so many different ways in which the British government could provide its citizens with healthcare free at the point of use in perpetuity  – with either minor or major reforms to the NHS – but none of these can be discussed as long as the spectre of the American nightmare is held up to scaremonger and quell debate.

I am joining the March in Bedford & Luton as I cannot stand by and watch as the Tories systematically destroy and privatise our NHS — an NHS that was fought for by working-class people and represented a major step forward for the health of the nation. One Community. One goal. Save our NHS – Steven Sweeney

And here comes the ideology. No protest in defence of preserving the NHS in formaldehyde would be complete without the obligatory boasts from the left that they created the National Health Service, and warnings that only they can be trusted with it. And it is true – the NHS is far from the worst possible way of administering healthcare to a population, and represented a huge improvement on what came before. But again, we see too many people who are now more committed to the organisation itself than to the principles that it stands for (healthcare free at the point of use).

If you have been relying on the BBC for your news, you will have no idea that we now face the possibility of no longer having access to free healthcare by the next general election, and blunders could become the norm with a privatised health service, prioritising profit over welfare.

People from countries all over the world envy our national health service and yet our government is destroying it before our very eyes, just to gain lucrative business deals from their pals. If we don’t act now, our NHS will disappear and we could pay with our lives, literally. After all good health is not a privilege, it is a human right. So think to yourself, how has the NHS helped you and could you live without it? – Dr Anusha Seneviratne

Now the scaremongering really begins. Did you know that there might not be healthcare in Britain any more if the Tories win the 2015 general election? You didn’t? That’s because it’s not true, a blatant falsehood and fabrication deliberately and underhandedly put about to scare people into supporting the status quo.

Furthermore, encouraging people to think about how the NHS has helped them without pointing out that in its absence some other system would inevitably do a similar job is an intellectually dishonest approach to fostering debate. It could well be the case that universal healthcare free at the point of use was best delivered through a nationalised provider as Britain dragged itself through the post-war doldrums. But is this necessarily still the case? And why must people who dare to ask the question be labelled dangerous extremists who want to abolish healthcare altogether?

The latter-day Jarrow marchers will likely hate the comparison, but in their rigid, immovable opposition to healthcare reform of any kind, they are holding up the NHS as a paragon of better times past in the same way that Prince Charles waxes nostalgic about Regency architecture and despises anything modern. Just as the heir to the throne is convinced that Britain’s architectural heyday peaked in 1710 with the completion of St. Paul’s Cathedral and recoils from anything built of glass and steel, so it seems do many of the most ardent NHS fanatics believe that the NHS founding in 1948 represents the snapshot of Britain that should be preserved above all others.

The reality is that just as architecture went through many fashions and phases to leave the London skyline that we now recognise and love, government policy on healthcare also has to change and adapt to the times. St. Paul’s Cathedral is wonderful, but the building of Coventry Cathedral or the Shard did nothing to diminish its place in our hearts. Likewise, the NHS in its original form may have been the best option for Britain in 1948, but we should at least be allowed to talk about whether nationalised healthcare delivery is still be best way to go.

And we should be able to do so without being called callous, unfeeling, overprivileged elitists by those marching down from Jarrow.

 

Semi-Partisan Sam will be covering the final stage of the NHS Jarrow march live on Saturday 6th September, live-tweeting from the event and hopefully interviewing some of the marchers and the special guests at the concluding rally in Parliament Square. Stay tuned to @SamHooper on Twitter for real-time updates.

 

Cover Image: “South Shields MP joins protesters on modern Jarrow march”, Evening Chronicle, 20th August 2014

March For Better Healthcare, Not For The NHS

Peoples March NHS 3

 

There is something awe-inspiring yet disconcerting about walking into an NHS hospital. More than any other institution in the free world (with the possible exception of the Pentagon in the United States) a visitor to an NHS hospital in Britain is quickly made to feel that they are but one very small and temporary part of an unimaginably huge and powerful organisation, one which hums with a life and agenda entirely of its own, far bigger than – and not accountable to – any one person or office of state.

That’s not to denigrate the standard of care which may be provided, or the empathy shown every day by many NHS staff. And yet to sit in a waiting room and watch the crisply uniformed workers – from the lowliest cleaner to the highest-paid consultant – hurry about their business, it feels slightly Orwellian to know that the exact same scenes are playing out, with zero variation, in every town and city throughout the country. The uniformed defence chiefs in Arlington, Virginia may hold the power to extinguish all human life with the push of a few buttons, but as far as the British hospital patient is concerned, the power of a harried, middle-aged manager in the NHS is no less absolute.

Why does this matter?

Healthcare – the way that it is rationed, delivered and spoken about – is a hugely important issue, one which engenders unusually strong feelings among people, especially when their own use of the service gives them an added personal stake. It should follow, then, that our national conversation about healthcare is equal to the weight of the subject matter – that it is informed, reasoned, respectful and always guided by a few core principles to which we can all agree as relatively decent, rational human beings.

And the conversation should focus on those core aims – say, providing the best, most holistic healthcare to the entire population that our finite resources can buy – above all else, with lesser considerations such as tradition, vested interests and organisational or partisan loyalty coming a distant second.

It hardly needs stating that we in Britain are not currently having that kind of conversation.

Sure, there are ideological zealots on both sides. They may be few in number, but read enough newspaper online comment sections and you will find the odd absolutist libertarian arguing his lonely case that the intentionally uninsured person who developed cancer made their own deathbed and must now lie in it. But if you want to see ideological fervour and vested interests taking priority over rational thought on a truly large scale, you must look to the British political left – and specifically towards the sound of footsteps steadily marching south from Jarrow to London.

Peoples Assembly NHS March Demo

 

This weekend, a pressure group called 999 Call For The NHS will complete its People’s March For The NHS, a rolling demonstration that has been following the route of the 1936 Jarrow March with the aim of increasing the British people’s already sky-high approval of our nationalised healthcare provision – or to scaremonger and raise false fears about its imminent demise, depending on one’s perspective. From the group’s site:

The People’s March is a perfect opportunity to build support for the NHS and to join up with amazing NHS campaigners across the country. Following the basic route of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, the People’s March for the NHS will head to Parliament. On route we aim to make the public aware of what the coalition government has been doing to our NHS and what has been happening to our hospitals and health services.

According to 999 Call For The NHS, our national healthcare provider is under mortal threat from the Conservative-led coalition government, who have worked tirelessly to undermine the nation’s health by (counterintuitively) increasing NHS spending every year since 2010, and ringfencing the organisation from any future spending cuts at the expense of almost every other department, including our national defence.

The group’s purpose is clear, and summed up perfectly by their name, 999 Call For The NHS. According to this inverted world view, we the people exist to serve the state bureaucracy (in this case the NHS) and come to its aid in an emergency, rather than the other way around.

It’s like a perverse reimagination of John F Kennedy’s inaugural address – ask not what the NHS can do to make you and your family well; ask what you can do to unthinkingly support this sprawling, inevitably flawed organisation, and all with a level of fervour more commonly seen among cult members.

That certainly was not the case when the NHS was founded. Back then, the focus was very much on the people to be served by the fledgling organisation, rather than the appropriate level of financial and human sacrifice to throw at an unreformed, unresponsive behemoth. As Aneurin Bevan said in his speech at the second reading of the NHS Bill in 1946:

The first reason why a health scheme of this sort is necessary at all is because it has been the firm conclusion of all parties that money ought not to be permitted to stand in the way of obtaining an efficient health service … It is cardinal to a proper health organisation that a person ought not to be financially deterred from seeking medical assistance at the earliest possible stage … Therefore, the first evil that we must deal with is that which exists as a consequence of the fact that the whole thing is the wrong way round. A person ought to be able to receive medical and hospital help without being involved in financial anxiety.

Not only is this the case, but our hospital organisation has grown up with no plan, with no system; it is unevenly distributed over the country and indeed it is one of the tragedies of the situation, that very often the best hospital facilities are available where they are least needed. In the older industrial districts of Great Britain hospital facilities are inadequate. Many of the hospitals are too small – very much too small … There is a tendency in some quarters to defend the very small hospital on the ground of its localism and intimacy, and for other rather imponderable reasons of that sort, but everybody knows today that if a hospital is to be efficient it must provide a number of specialised services. Although I am not myself a devotee of bigness for bigness sake, I would rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one.

Even 999 Call For The NHS reference these founding aims in their own campaign literature:

In modern times it’s sometimes hard to have faith in what our politicians do and say. But not so long ago, politicians spoke about and acted on ideals. When Nye Bevan founded the NHS in 1948 it was formed on 3 core principles:
1. The health service will meet the needs of everyone
2. It will be free at the point of delivery
3. Healthcare will be delivered according to clinical need, not the ability to pay

This is how the NHS began. The dream of nationalised healthcare was a brave new world where a person’s financial means no longer determined their access to quality healthcare, and where poverty was no longer an implicit death sentence. There was less obsession over who delivered the services, and less paranoia about keeping certain types of undesirables as far away from the process as possible.

The emphasis then focused on the fact that healthcare was to be free at the point of use; today’s Labour politicians seem to care nothing at all about the healthcare itself, aside from their obsession that the person providing it must get their pay cheque from the government and not a private firm.

It is interesting to read some of these early speeches. Sure, many of them contain the same hyperbolic Tory-bashing that one now expects from Owen Jones or Polly Toynbee, but they are also lofty speeches that even political opponents can appreciate thanks to their nobility of purpose. These visionary statements make a stark contrast with today’s bitter, one-dimensional screeds accusing them (the evil Tories) of trying to take healthcare away from us (the good, decent folk).

And note the tough-minded defence of large, centralised centres of specialised service provision in Bevan’s speech. How many of the latter-day Jarrow marchers have also been involved in NIMBY-style protests and efforts to keep small, inefficient local services running at huge cost to the taxpayer and to the detriment of overall healthcare outcomes? This too, is in contravention of the NHS’s founding spirit.

Lest there be any doubt about the 999 protesters’ aim to preserve a 65-year-old institution for reasons amounting to little more than sentimentality, here is the movement’s hero, Owen Jones, in full rhetorical flight:

“It is not for us to allow our greatest national institution, built by the determination and courage of our ancestors, to be dismantled and privatised by a Tory party that did not even win the election. That’s why I’m backing this incredible march – which demonstrates we will not stand aside whilst our NHS is shredded by vultures.”

This is quite extraordinary. All this talk of ancestry, of national endeavour and shared heritage coming from the mouth of a UKIP or Tory voter would be immediately jumped upon as evidence of the worst sort of Little Englander mentality, and yet here is one of the doyens of the British left indulging in precisely the same rose-tinted nostalgia – albeit about a socialist cause célèbre.

Comparisons to a cult may seem overblown, but just look at the hagiography and aura of personality being carefully curated by NHS fanatics surrounding the life of Aneurin Bevan. As 999 Call For The NHS breathlessly boast on their own website:

A sister march and rally is being held in Tredegar, the birthplace of Aneurin Bevan. Organised by local people we’ll be linking with them via satellite.

When the socialist march to London is mirrored by a twin pilgrimage to the birthplace of the founder of the church, one cannot help but wonder to what extent this exercise is really about healthcare at all.

aneurin bevan hagiography

 

Reading the biographies of the 999 Call For The NHS Team, it is evident that a number of the movement’s leaders were spurred to organise partly because they felt they owed a “debt of gratitude” to the NHS for either having received treatment themselves, or through a loved one having done so. But this is a particularly poor reason to campaign for the status quo. The NHS (like any system or bureaucracy) has flaws and problems as well as good points, and it helps no one if people feel beholden to support an institution in its current form just because they once used the service that was on offer at the time.

Indeed, when considering the best way to administer healthcare to a nation of 63 million people and growing, any kind of sentimentality is probably best avoided. People may look with distaste at the work undertaken by NICE (and certain Americans may shudder and think of death panels), but these structures and organisations simply reflect the fact that there is unlimited demand for healthcare, and a limited supply. One way or another, from capitalist America to totalitarian North Korea, rationing decisions are made, be it by the invisible hand of the almighty dollar or the literal death panels of Pyongyang.

(It’s interesting that some on the left, more used to running Britain down and singing the praises of other countries and of international co-operation, have developed such a blind spot when it comes to the way that other, nominally more socialist countries such as France administer healthcare to their citizens).

But if sentimentality about the individual is an unfortunate distraction when planning healthcare delivery, sentimentality about the particular institutions and specific modes of provision is an almost unpardonable indulgence in 21st century Britain. In fact, the extent to which the interests of the latter are served will likely see a corresponding fall in meeting the needs of the former. Far better to serve the interests of human beings who think, breathe, bleed, laugh and cry than a soulless master built of bricks, mortar and organisation charts.

This doesn’t mean that ditching the NHS and making the abrupt transition to a completely different system is necessarily the right approach for Britain – it could well be the case that the costs of any such upheaval would outweigh the benefits, especially if made carelessly or in haste.

But to take to the streets in support of what is essentially just a government department (would that the Department of Agriculture had such devoted admirers), protesters should at least be clear of precisely what it is they like about the NHS, what needs to be preserved and what can go; and they should have a basic understanding of the costs and tradeoffs involved in all of these decisions. Seeing their opponents as more than evil, two-dimensional caricatures would also help.

To those people now marching south from Jarrow, and those many others who will join them in London on Saturday:

If you must be outraged at something, be outraged that a baby born in Britain is more likely to die before their first birthday than a child born in Brunei, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Israel, Portugal, Slovenia or eighteen other nations – if not more. And note that this was the case long before David Cameron entered 10 Downing Street.

If you feel compelled to take to the streets, grab a placard and protest the fact that British cancer survival rates stubbornly lag behind those of our western European neighbours, most of whom do not have nationalised health systems.

If you want to help the NHS trend on social media this weekend, invest some time looking at the healthcare systems of other successful countries and consider ways that Britain’s own arrangements could be reformed and improved, rather than preserved as close to their 1948 incarnation as possible.

But if you find yourself marching from Edmonton Green to Parliament Square on Saturday in support of the NHS in particular – and especially if you are one of the few who trudged the entire route from Jarrow in northern England to protest spending cuts that have not happened and to talk about delivery modes rather than outcomes – you have a solemn duty to make absolutely certain that you are really defending the interests of your fellow citizens rather than doing the bidding and furthering the ends of deeply entrenched special interests.

The protest’s organisers have failed to make a case for blindly “supporting the NHS” that is based on anything more than nostalgia at best, and scaremongering at worst – read their literature closely and dare yourself to reach any other conclusion.

This is no way to make policy. This is no way for politically engaged citizens to behave. This is no way to honour the legacy of Nye Bevan.