250,000 march to defend the NHS: little said
I often blog about large demonstrations from an historical perspective but haven’t (until now) noted the NHS demonstration in defence of the NHS in central London on March 4th. It was called by a number of health campaigns and backed by major unions.
The Mirror reported that an estimated 250,000 had attended. That would make it one of the largest London protests of the last 20 years or so, and in that sense one of the largest ever.
However it was more difficult than usual to judge numbers because the assembly point in Tavistock Square (chosen because it’s the HQ of privateer Virgin Health) made it difficult to judge the size at the start. The Square is fenced and the protest in the main surrounded it. The march made its way through central London to Parliament Square which was certainly also packed.
It was a relatively long march and some may well have been in poor health and been at the start or end but not both.
The more interesting thing perhaps was the media coverage, mirroring the downplaying (in part) that the first major London protest to be captured by the media, the Chartists on 10th April 1848, suffered from.
ITN and Channel 4 certainly covered the protest as did the Mirror (which was handing out placards, always a sign of large march). The BBC which is mostly interested in anything and everything to do with Trump, reported tens of thousands had marched.
The following day the Observer reported nothing as did the Guardian on Monday (a letter on Tuesday underlined the point). This may have been because Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the rally, or perhaps they agreed with failed Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith’s tweet that protests were a waste of time. Rather the thing was to elect a Labour Government to fund the NHS (fair enough) but do we do nothing until 2020 I wonder?
This probably wasn’t conspiracy or Corbynphobia though but just lazy journalism, sad though it is to note this about the Observer and Guardian.
Even so it’s fair to say that the disconnect between some of the mainstream media and what ordinary people actually think is an issue, when it comes to ignoring or downplaying such a significant protest on such an important matter. It doesn’t serve democratic politics well