We’ve had some rough times in our profession. Sometimes it feels like we work in a building that’s being demolished, and Hunt and friends are wearing ear-protectors and smiling, oblivious to our screams.
The frustration seeps in, and bubbles up between us if we let it-but the one thing that got the junior doctors dispute going, kept it going and pushes it still, is unity.
98% of doctors voted for industrial action. We had a forum of 68,000 doctors able to each have a voice. These are amazing levels of cohesion. The yes/no vote on the contract became bitter- that screaming frustration came through the cracks as we pulled in opposite directions.
Which is of course exactly what our true adversary, Jeremy Hunt and co, wanted.
I felt a surge of hope again this week. The emergency campaign to raise funds for justiceforhealth against imposition hit £120,000 in just 48 hours. We remain united. We fight on.
I want to apply this model to Labour.
Full disclosure- I’ve voted all over for many years: Lib Dem, then Labour, then Corbyn.
Now no one will disagree Labour is in a mess. Neither will any Labour supporter disagree the Tories are rampaging across the country and tearing up the welfare state. My red line issue is the NHS and the Tories are well on the way to forcing total collapse.
The back and forth between Corbynistas and Blairites/Eagle-Eyes/Smithies has been childish, moronic, insulting and divisive. On both sides.
I think no one can disagree Corbyn has failed as a leader. His PR is rubbish- yes you can blame the media, which has been more biased against him than any political figure in recent years, but that just means he needed to work harder. Dropping press releases at the wrong time, allowing damaging behaviours by supporters to become dominant narratives, easy gaff after easy gaff for tabloids to run.
Contrast that with Boris Johnson’s PR team that plastered over exit signs at his Brexit resignation speech JUST SO THERE WASN’T A PHOTO OF BORIS AND AN EXIT SIGN. That’s PR we need in spades.
But you also cannot argue that the wider Labour Party has also failed. Failed to capitalise on the huge influx of support and interest in Labour with Corbyn. Failed to create a cohesive opposition in followership- every labour MP voting against the leader made more headlines than the vote itself. The image of a fractured useless opposition is going to lose more votes than Corbyn ever would.
But whatever your opinion the lesson I want to impart to you, Labour, left, middle or other, is one of unity. Watch the television interviews of junior doctors arguing over strikes, or the debate on channel 4 after the yes/no contract vote. I give you examples of how a group can fundamentally disagree and still work to a common purpose. We still treated each other with respect and civility.
In Labour, we can still agree that the Tories will ruin this country and destroy the NHS. We can still agree that whoever the leader the opposition needs as tight a team as the government.
If Corbyn stays, will the anti-Corbyn crowd stay and work with him? Unity is the only way we will win, returning to the backbenches to continue sniping will only serve the Tories.
If Smith wins, will Corbynistas stay on, and support the party that just destroyed their dream? Yes, you must. Because ultimately the party should be bigger than all of us, and if you want to change it you have to stay.
Please remember we are literally squabbling over deck chairs on the Titanic, while iceberg Tory rips the country asunder.
Working together brought out the best in us as doctors. In Labour we have to do the same. Or we will lose everything.