Reflections on Bevan’s Run
Yesterday, I went to the Department of Health to watch the end of Bevan’s Run. If you haven’t come across ‘Bevan’s Run’ it involved two hospital consultants, Clive Peedell and David Wilson – both cancer specialists in Middlesborough, running from Aneurin Bevan’s statue in Cardiff to the Department of Health based at Richmond House in London – 160 miles in six days. They did this to raise awareness of public (and professional) opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill.
My reasons for going to meet the runners (with a few hundred others) in London was to express my support for what they had done and my agreement in the agenda which they were promoting – namely that there is no mandate for this coalition government to dismantle and privatise the NHS – because that is what they are doing.
While I was there, I both chatted and listened to chatter of those around me – many with much more experience than me in the sector (there seemed to be a lot of doctors milling around) about the wish to demonstrate opposition again and again. The phrase ‘lions led by donkeys’ raised its heads in reference to professional leadership which had not (with some notable exceptions) provided much leadership in opposing and disseminating the government’s plans.
Beyond ‘Clicks’ – Spartacus Report
My thoughts also turned to the ease with which we can now be driven to ‘clicktivism’ – signing petitions, sharing links on Facebook or Twitter and yes, writing blogposts like that – and while that is important in raising awareness as a background to protest, it can’t replace more original actions.
Actions don’t have to be running 160 miles (fortunately!) but if we look at the impact that the ‘Spartacus Report’ aka ‘Responsible Reform’ which has had a significant impact on presenting an alternative ‘view’ of the government (and unfortunately often the opposition) tarring of benefit claimants as ‘scroungers’ and targeting the House of Lords as the moral conscience of the nation, we can see that it is important that actions do move beyond the core clicking and tweeting.
‘Action’ is not restricted to being active.The ‘Spartacus Report’ made considerable use of Freedom of Information requests to highlight the nefarious nature of the governments’ so-called ‘consultations’.
Resolutions and Taking Action
So as we move into the new year (I’ve been away so am a bit late to this!) and although I’ve vowed not to make too many resolutions, I think these two events have pushed me into a wish to be more active this year in presenting opposition to government approaches through finding and presenting the evidence of failings and using my position as a frontline social worker to share the worries that I see on a day to day basis and present evidence about why these changes are not going to create a better, fairer society.
Clicking is not worthless, it is valuable. It is through social media that I have become aware of both of these initiatives. The presence of main stream media particularly on ‘Twitter’ and skilful promotion and dessemination has a real value but sometimes, it’s necessary to move beyond the ‘click of support’.
This is going to be a landmark year for Social Policy and Health Policy in the UK – whether it’s the Welfare Bill, the Health and Social Care Bill, the development and introduction of new Adult Social Care legislation due in the Spring and the future of Dilnot – these are all issues (among others) that those of us employed and reliant on services from the sector can push our voices out on. While I can guarantee I won’t be running 160 miles, I am sure going to try and think of more I can do to move the clicktivism into activism.
Finally, thanks to Clive and David and to those behind the Spartacus Report – particularly Sue and Kaliya. You inspire me.