It takes a lot to bring jaded politicians to tears, but a 91-year-old British World War II did just that with a rousing address to members of the Labor Party.
Form the BBC:
Sky News describes the event:
A 91-year-old Second World War veteran has upstaged Ed Miliband at the Labour Party conference with a passionate and tear-jerking speech on the health service.
Harry Smith moved audience members to tears as he made a passionate case for the NHS and warned David Cameron: “Keep your mitts off my NHS.”
Mr Smith received a number of standing ovations as he detailed his life in a “barbarous, bleak and uncivilised” Barnsley slum where he listened to the screams of a woman dying of cancer because she could not afford the medicine to dull the pain.
Labour politicians, including the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, wept openly as he described how his sister had to be buried in a paupers’ pit after dying of tuberculosis at the age of 10.
He said the family watched as she faded away, unable to help because they “just didn’t have the dosh to keep her comfortable”.
We first learned about Britain’s National Health Service back in the early 1960s, when friends who had spent the summer in London described their experiences with what was then described in the American press as “socialized medicine.”
It took five more decades for this country to achieve something that was even distantly similar to the revolutionary program Smith helped usher in, and in recent years even the Labour Party has acquiesced in radical cutbacks.
The free care for which my American friends were automatically able to receive [and which our own younger daughter received just a few years ago during a London visit] would no longer be available to them today the result of cuts passed under the aegis of “austerity,” and Cameron’s conservatives want still more cuts.
How refreshing to hear an honest human voice among all the political rhetoric.
Health care should be a right. It’s really that simple, especially in an era where we live and move and have our being in a stew of toxins and novel chemicals created by the same industries whose leaders are working so relentlessly to cut taxes and eliminate regulations that prevent them from add still more hazards to the commons.