The NHS as a whole is a different challenge to one department in one local hospital;–
1) It’s not local, it’s big and fat and a bit tired (like me). There are competing demands for scarce resources. If one hospital is saved, another loses its maternity unit or A and E.
2) There’s not much room for human to human appeal in a national campaign.
3) There are a whole lot of voices trying to be heard already – who cares about mine?
4) There is already some really good, innovative work being done by, for example, 38 degrees and Change.org, both of which challenge all my experience of street politics.
5) It’s not about small, isolated, achievable targets, it’s about big ideas and the future which, to be frank, isn’t going to involve me a lot.
6) When support lags, you can’t just put up some posters or make a noise to drum up support.
7) Someone in the midlands or up north isn’t really going to be interested in my little life down south.
8) With the NHS as a whole you are dealing with the big boys (and these days a few isolated big girls too) and they play real dirty. It’s all about massive amounts of money and the people who are queuing up to steal it.
8) To be truthful, it isn’t just about campaigning against closures. That’s very important and I’ve done my share of it. Sometimes closures make good scientific sense – and that’s a difficult one to call. For every closure that improves things there are ten that make things worse. It’s also an excuse to sell off land that can never be replaced and one day will be needed. But being right is quite subtle and complicated while campaigning is always simplistic.
9) I’m not as tough as I was last year.
10) Helpmesortoutstpeters was easy – it was so obviously the only way of doing it.
What I do know is that the harder they come, the harder they fall.
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