Block the Bridge, Block the Bill

Posted on Wed 21st Sep 2011, 3:34pm

The government is just weeks away from destroying the NHS forever. This is an emergency. On Sunday October 9th at 1pm, join UK Uncut on Westminster Bridge and help block the bill.

Free coaches available! See here for more information
Posters/flyers available here
Read through the legal tips

On one side of Westminster Bridge is Parliament. On 7th September, MPs in the Commons voted for the end of the NHS as we know it. Yet the coalition’s Health and Social Care bill was not in the Lib Dem manifesto. It was not in the Tory manifesto. None of us voted for this.

On the opposite side of the bridge is St Thomas’ Hospital, one of Britain’s oldest medical institutions. If the bill passes, hospitals like St Thomas’ will be sold to private corporations, the staff put on private payrolls and beds given over to private patients. Despite the government’s lies, this bill represents the wholesale privatization of the NHS and, with it, the destruction of the dream of comprehensive healthcare provided equally to all.

On October 11th, the bill moves to the Lords, and a huge Liberal Democrat rebellion is brewing. We have one last chance to save our NHS.

On Sunday 9th October, just days before the bill moves to the Lords, join UK Uncut in a spectacular act of mass civil disobedience to block the bill. By blocking Westminster Bridge we symbolically block the bill from getting from Parliament to our hospitals. Yes, it will be disruptive. Yes, it will stop the traffic. But this is an emergency and we have to shout as loud as we can.

Get to the middle of Westminster Bridge shortly before 1pm. When Big Ben strikes one, pick one of the tactics below and help block the bridge:
  • Bring some fake blood and play dead
  • Bring hospital radio to the bridge with some music and comedy
  • Bring a nurse for a resuscitation skill-share
  • Dress up in scrubs and perform an operation
  • Enjoy a picnic overlooking Parliament
  • Share stories about the the NHS
  • Invite a friend from across the pond to describe the reality of a privatised healthcare system
  • Invite older generations to describe a time before universal healthcare
  • (if you’ve got other good ideas, email them to
Invite everyone you know to the Facebook event, and make sure you click ‘attending’ – the action will only go ahead if 1000 or more people plan to attend. We'll be in close contact with St. Thomas’ before and during the protest to ensure access for emergency vehicles.

We will not let a coalition of millionaire politicians and private health lobbyists destroy our NHS. Be on Westminster Bridge for 1pm on October 9th and together let’s block this bill from getting to our hospitals.

See you on the bridge.

Press release: UK Uncut to shut down Westminster Bridge in protest over NHS bill

Press release: UK Uncut to shut down Westminster Bridge in protest over NHS bill

Posted on Wed 21st Sep 2011, 3:04pm
For immediate release
Tel 07415063231

UK Uncut to shut down Westminster Bridge in protest over NHS bill

Thousands expected to occupy one of London's most iconic landmarks on 9th October in last-ditch attempt to defeat bill condemned by doctors as 'undermining all that is precious about the NHS'

UK Uncut has announced that it is planning a spectacular act of mass civil disobedience in a last-ditch attempt to defeat the government's Health and Social Care bill [1]. The anti-austerity direct action group will bring traffic to a halt by blocking Westminster Bridge at 1pm on Sunday 9th October, days before the bill is debated in the House of Lords.

The bill, which will see private patients treated at the expense of NHS patients, healthcare workers made redundant and reduce the priority of treating chronic and complex conditions, will move to the Lords on the 11th October [2]. The British Medical Association, the professional association of doctors in the UK, says the Bill "presents unacceptable risks to the NHS" and is calling for the Bill to be withdrawn [3]. Large numbers of Liberal Democrat peers are expected to rebel [4].

Westminster Bridge, one of London's most iconic landmarks, lies between the Houses of Parliament on the north of the river and St. Thomas' Hospital on the south. UK Uncut claims that "by blocking Westminster Bridge, we symbolically block the bill from getting from Parliament to our hospitals". In a message to supporters entitled "Block the Bridge, Block the Bill", the group encourages participants to adopt tactics including lying in pools of fake blood, performing pretend operations and having picnics overlooking Parliament. They say the action will only go ahead if at least 1000 people indicate they will attend on Facebook but are confident that people will travel to London from all over the UK for the action.

Activists say that they have been talking to unions, NGOs and other direct action groups who are all keen to support the action, including the provision of transport from other parts of the UK. The group is unapologetic in its call for mass civil disobedience, saying "Yes, it will be disruptive. Yes, it will stop the traffic. But this is an emergency and if we want to save our NHS we need to shout as loud as we can." It says it will maintain close contact with St. Thomas' in the run up to the protest and during it to ensure access for emergency vehicles.

UK Uncut supporter Samina Khan said: "A leading doctor has said that this bill will 'produce an underclass of patients with chronic, debilitating illness', which isn't surprising when you invite private companies to exploit people's sickness for profit. I'll be on the bridge so that when my kids ask me what happened to the NHS, I can at least say 'I tried'."

Ben Aden, a nurse in a hospital in north London, said: "The government's 'listening exercise' was a sham. All major medical bodies told the government to scrap the bill, but the government is only listening to the private healthcare corporations who stand to make billions from our illnesses. The bill wasn't in the Lib Dem manifesto. It wasn't in the Tory manifesto. None of us voted for this. When the government show such a blatant disregard for democracy, it's right to engage in civil disobedience. This is our last chance to save the NHS."


Guest post: Welfare not Warfare: the price of the world’s largest arms fair

Posted on Mon 12th Sep 2011, 11:56am
This is a guest post by Kat Hobbs from Campaign Against the Arms Trade

Violence is an expensive business. Whether it’s the social cost of cutting welfare or the money you have to pay once dissent breaks out (as we’ve seen in the recent riots), cutting people’s lifelines by slashing spending on welfare and community services leads to social disorder.

Yet at the same time as their spending cuts are destroying the safety net for society’s most vulnerable people, the government is pouring millions into the arms trade.

Whilst there have been 40% cuts to university teaching budgets, and 60% cuts to social housing, the defence budget was cut by just 8%. The government spends more money buying arms from BAE Systems alone than it does on tackling climate change- equivalent to £64 a year for every adult and child in the UK.

Furthermore, according to figures obtained by Campaign Against Arms Trade, £700 million a year is spent on government subsidies to the arms trade. That’s around a £9000 subsidy for each job in the arms industry in Britain. As Alan Beattie said in the Financial Times, “You can have as many arms export jobs as you are prepared to waste public money subsidising.”

The UK Trade and Investment Department’s Defence and Security Organisation keeps a whole raft of civil servants busily employed on nothing other than promoting the deadly business of the arms trade. David Cameron’s entourage on his recent ‘democracy tour’ of the Middle East included eight arms dealers.

So instead of investing for our collective future, the government is wasting money, skills and expertise on weapons and warfare. These resources could be used to produce the things we really need- renewable energy, green technology, education and healthcare.

Next week UKTI will be co-hosting (along with Clarion Events, recently featured as ‘War Profiteer of the Month’ at War Resisters International) the world’s largest arms fair in Newham. While Newham- one of London’s poorest boroughs- undergoes over £100 million worth of cuts, the government is supporting an Arms Fair in the ExCel Centre.

On September 13th Defence and Security International will open its doors to over 25,000 buyers from across the world (regardless of their human rights record), selling everything from battleships to F16 fighter jets, small arms to unmanned-drones, microchips to armoured cars.

The Stop The Arms Fair coalition have called a day of action for September 13th, the first day of the fair. Join the action on the day in London, or organise locally against an arms company near you! We will be sending a clear message to the government - end the arms trade and stop the cuts, invest in welfare not warfare.
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