Last Saturday was the second time I have gone on a protest march. My previous march was an anti-Nazi rally when I was about 19 years old. I remember marching down Brixton High Street and finishing at Brockwell Park where Billy Bragg sang and others spoke. Last Saturday Billy would have been in his element. There is something timeless about protests.
The cause is a just one - whichever was you look at it and http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/ explains the facts. Huge recent investment in Lewisham Hospital. Huge population growth in SE London. A poor consultation, with hidden information about how much of the site will get sold off. These are just some of the facts! Only someone who has no knowledge of SE London except looking at the financial mess that surrounds the borough of Lewisham could come up with such a decision. It is hard to find a logical argument to close the A&E / maternity department, especially when you realise that local hospitals are stretched to cope with their current demands.
Billy would have loved the size of the protest last Saturday, the strength of the speeches from local MP's (well done Heidi!) and the passion from the matron of the A&E dept (brilliant). He would have loved the sense of unity against a Government's disregard for people's wants and needs.
I'm not sure though what Billy would have made of the protest song by Question that has been released. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/question/id131757250 - It's not my choice of music either!
And I doubt that Billy Bragg cycled, he would have struggled to carry his guitar! But I cycle a lot in South London. Yes I cycle because I love it, it's cheap, convenient and healthy but this is all because South East London is a tough place to travel around. I can travel as fast or faster than cars most of the time. I can get to Woolwich hospital way faster than a car, it is a slow journey! Why ask thousands to make that journey adding extra traffic problems and accidents!
But Bragg was always up for the fight, regardless of the opposition. Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham has spoken tonight with passionate words to carry on the fight whatever happens this week. Maybe there will be time for Billy Bragg to sing again!