Monday, 5 September 2011

Report on Southmead Social Care demo

By Frankie Langeland, South Bristol Socialist Party

'Thank you, you are bloody marvellous.'  ended Bob Taylors emotional speech at a Bristol rally last Saturday against the selling off of homecare in the city.
Mr Taylors wife, Pat, had previously been given 2 years to live but as he put it 'they (the doctors) must have underestimated Homecare.'
Mr Taylor told the carers at the rally that they were the blue ribbon of Bristol care, praising the service that wasn't driven by profit saying that 'Profit and care are incompatible.'

The rally was held after a short march starting at the greenway community centre in Southmead, where a by election has been called. 

250 came out to show they are against the proposed privatisation, and a city poll showed that 97% of people are against the proposals overall.

Privatising Homecare would put 1000 vulnerable adults care at risk as well as 250 jobs. The Lib Dem led council say that in house care is costing the council twice as much compared to a privatised service, However Bristol has seen this year in the Winterborne scandal that private care comes with a much higher cost!

The Rally itself was a mixed bag, including a statement read out from the Bishop of Bristol!
Disgracefully Tory MP for Bristol North West, Charlotte Leslie was given a gushing introduction by a UNITE steward, but the crowd didn't give her such a warm welcome heckling about the Tory cuts nationwide.
Again Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East who attacked the Tories cuts got jeers from the crowd asking her 'What about PFI?' Labour shouldn't assume that we all have short memories!

John McInally, Vice President of the PCS spoke on behalf of the Bristol Anti  Cuts Alliance, saying that we are in an unremitting class war adding 'There is a consensus between the main political parties that there is no alternative to the cuts. Well that is an absolute nonsense' McInally also called for communities and trade unions to unite together against the attacks on us.

Finally film director Ken Loach made a surprise appearance, He remembered when 'Welfare' first became nationalised saying 'Think what we had we had healthcare, we had housing that was built for and paid for for the purpose of housing ordinary people, we owned the mines, we owned the railways, then the steel industry. We don't own it anymore they've ripped it away from us. We need to remember where we were to see how much we have lost.'

Loach also spoke about the problem of political representation saying 'the political cliques all support privatisation.' 

In response to the by election in  Southmead   UNITE launched a 'don't vote Lib Dem' Campaign (the Lib Dems currently being in control of the council)  Loach appeared to pick up on this saying 'I understand the tactic of saying don't vote lib Dem but we're not coned into thinking that if we vote either Tory or Labour they're not going to do the same thing, Because they will and we know they will.'

Loach was also critical of the labour party saying they would never be a party to lead a broad labour movement and that they were a party of privateers which was met by cheers from the crowd.

I spoke to some of the homecare workers after the rally they all spoke about the uncertainty they faced in their jobs and how they had been under attack for a long time.

But with everyone I spoke to they all said 'its about the service users.' This shows the carers that Bob Taylor spoke about, committed to providing the best service they can despite being under attack by their own council and government!

Bristol Homecare workers are just another story in the ConDem's cuts agenda, and like so many others they are fighting back not only for themselves but for the service users they care for, the demo on Saturday showed they are not alone in their fight and have enormous support from the workers of Bristol

The Socialist Party demands and end to the cuts agenda and to re nationalise the services that have been sold off already.
We should be learning from the Winterborne scandal not following in it's foot steps!

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