Health campaigners will retrace the steps of the original Jarrow Marchers as part of their fight to protect the NHS.
Several hundred people are expected to take part in a mass rally outside Jarrow Town Hall on Saturday, August 16, before a group of NHS campaigners head off on the 300-mile march to London.
Evoking memories of the famous 1936 Jarrow Crusade, when 200 jobless men marched from the town to Westminster to demand work, the event is billed as The People’s March for the NHS, with health protesters aiming to cover up to 16 miles a day, reaching the capital on September 6.
The 999 Call for the NHS campaign has already won the support of various organisations, including the TUC.
> That’s ironic… with the original Jarrow Crusade, the TUC of the day circularised Trades Councils advising them not to help the marchers. The Labour party also opposed it. And probably still would today.
Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the Northern TUC, said: “This march is being organized by a group of mums in Darlington, emulating the Jarrow March, but in aid of saving our NHS.
“They have gained support from many organisations up and down the country, including trade unions.”
Rehana Azam, one of the rally organisers, said campaigners are opposed to many of the changes to the NHS introduced by the Social Care Act 2012.
She said: “We are opposed to what we see as the sell-off of the NHS by this Government,
“We aim to raise awareness about the issues and hope the rally in Jarrow will attract major media coverage.
> Given the recent media lack of enthusiasm about rallies of 50,000 people in London, perhaps best not to expect to much…
“There should be several hundred people massing outside Jarrow Town Hall on August 16, before the march sets off for London.
“We will be campaigning on the NHS and also against things like the bedroom tax.
“The plan is to have support from people like the Mayor of South Tyneside and there should be key NHS workers and trade unionists involved in the rally.
“About 1,500 have registered to take part in the march along the route, with about 50 people marching all the way.”
For more details, log on to www.999callfornhs.org.uk
> For the record, when the original Jarrow Crusade reached London, the Prime Minister of the day, Stanley Baldwin, refused to see any of the marchers’ representatives, claiming it would set a dangerous precedent.
Source – Shields Gazette, 26 June 2014