Tony Garnett • Blog Posts

Junior doctors are the new miners of 1984

Ominous noises from the Tories. They see the doctors as the miners in 84-85. So, a high stakes fight to the death. Whose death will it be?

The doctors have public support. How long will that last against the drip, drip of Tory media lies?
But aren’t they in an industry, unlike the miners, that cannot be shut down? Yes, but the Tories are playing a long game. The NHS can be shut down, replaced by private insurance and many tough employers imposing their own terms.

The Tories have to win this war. If they lose, it will encourage other public sector workers. The doctors now are like the miners in 84 ( and 26, too ), the leaders of those people who sell their skills to an employer. They are organised, undefeated, respected and historically central to a functioning society. Sure, the Tories can recruit from other countries, but they can’t sack and import medical labour like they did coal. So they are in a strong position. But their enemy knows that losing this might be fatal to them. The Tories must win. The stakes are high.

If the experience of the miners is anything to go by, we’ll see the Parliamentary Labour Party and the TUC bureaucrats wash their hands and stay on the sidelines, moaning ineffectually. They will attack Cameron and Hunt but not move a muscle to help the doctors.

Nothing surprising there. In fact, true to form.

I remember the miners supporting the nurses in one of their disputes. Now it’s time for all workers to support the doctors, with mass demonstrations, and marches, and through social media, to make it clear to the Tories what they’re taking on.

The doctors’ fight is your fight: not today, but certainly tomorrow. And if the doctors lose, you will roll over without a murmur.
That’s what the defeat of the doctors will mean.

Remember the miners. The Tories do. They’re the ones who are making the comparison.
Learn from history.