13 October 2022
Nursing a Grievance
by Don Urquhart
Just listening to Any Answers on Radio 4 you realise how dire things are getting here. There was the lady who took her husband in for emergency surgery only to find they were queued behind 90 beds in corridors. She was fulsome in her praise for the doctors and nurses but pointed out how few of them there were and how short they were of beds, materials and equipment. This is Britain today.
There was a retired nurse in her 80s who would never have thought of striking but there was also a current nurse close to retirement after 40 years. He would willingly strike against the contempt heaped upon his colleagues and himself by the government.
Another contributor pointed out that hospital staff have to pay to park at their place of employment. Not only were they poorly paid but they had their pockets picked by the state while at work.
There was a very pleasant chap who made the case that we are all in it together against the common evil of inflation so people should not be striking for more money. Hard to get the agreement of nurses who have to use food banks to eat.
Driving to the station in affluent Borehamwood we were surprised to see a long queue for the food bank. The town is enjoying substantial investment from many firms including the Sky Company which has a massive estate under development.
We were on our way to the Curzon in Soho to see a London Film Festival movie selected by our daughter – My Imaginary Country. This was a documentary by Patricio Guzman, who had filmed Salvador Allende’s rise and fall in the 1970s and had captured the 2019 revolution in Chile culminating in the election of a left wing government. The contrast between the 1970s and today was stark. The earlier film was black and white and the working class heroes were all men. And, of course, Allende was removed with the connivance of the United States to usher in the 17 year Pinochet dictatorship. The 21st Century filming was dominated by colourful determined women and there was an awesome scene where thousands of women of all ages rapped a poem while delivering a perfectly choreographed dance routine with great precision and passion. The movie is worth seeing just for that. We in this country patted ourselves on the back for the rituals we engaged in to mourn our Queen but what those Chilean women did had so much more meaning. And you hope it sticks.
They had demonstrations of 1,200,000 citizens in Santiago. These are people who know how to make their point.
There was much footage of police and military shooting at demonstrators armed with stones they had prised free from the streets. There were armoured cars running at crowds. We were told that 400 demonstrators had lost an eye in the battles. And there were water cannons that reminded me of Boris Johnson’s flirtation with this method of controlling the masses in 2015.
There were many interviews with articulate ladies who spoke of starvation and poverty, having to buy education and health if they were lucky enough to afford them. And they pointed to an elite that enriched themselves at the expense of the many.
Not a million miles from Britain today.
Some readers wrongly accuse me of fomenting revolution but they fall short of saying I misrepresent reality. After all Government ministers who tell us we might suffer power cuts this winter are not accused of advocating them.
The stimulus to revolution in Chile this time around was putting the tube fare up by 30 pesos. It could be something like that here. I am not advocating it, but rather warning that enough can indeed be enough.