‘Groundswell’s unique, long-running documentary film project set among the grassroots of the ‘new politics’ follows Joanna Adams, Steve Carne, Deborah Harrington and Jo Land and fellow Save Our NHS campaigners over 3 1/2 years of their efforts to save the NHS from hugely powerful, international private sector forces. It’s a David And Goliath story.
We hear how Darlington working mum Joanna Adams’ involvement began with her sending out a tweet from her living room. It ended up with the campaign group she founded 999 Call For The NHS leading thousands into Trafalgar Square at the culmination of the group’s 300-mile Jarrow to London People’s March For The NHS in September 2014.
Their March was a journey of struggle and hope. But it was also a journey that took these political innocents into the darker recesses of British democracy as they were confronted by the machinations of the ‘old’ party politics which, resolutely non-party and passionately committed to their cause, they defied.
Accompanying this people-powered, internet-savvy group from early 2015 through to the pivotal General Election in May 2015 and its aftermath the film features Jeremy Corbyn when still a little known MP and former lifelong Tories who have become disillusioned with the last 40 years of free marketisation of British society. It charts grassroots Britons’ anger with the status quo which led to the Labour Party’s shock General Election loss and Corbyn’s even more shocking and groundbreaking Party Leadership win.
In 2016 ‘Groundswell’ continues with the 999ers journey as they find themselves directly involved with the Corbyn leadership who are fighting off further challenges from ‘old’ New Labour. Their story develops an international aspect when shocks of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s ascendancy to US President add further potent threats to the NHS’ survival.
‘Groundswell’ follows the campaigners’ increasingly urgent efforts in 2017 to alert the public to the threats from drastic new US-derived plans to reconstruct the NHS on private sector business lines involving major international corporations.
Their hopes are raised by the Labour Party’s unexpectedly good showing in the hastily called 2017 General Election. But will the Labour Party commit to full NHS renationalisation? Uncertainty over the Party’s direction sees the 999ers split in their personal decisions on which party to support.
The 999ers are committed to supporting the vital new cross-party NHS Reinstatement Bill that will restore the NHS as a fully publicly-owned and publicly-run service and which was launched in Parliament by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP in 2015 with the early support Corbyn. But will this be enough? Will they and fellow campaigners eventually have to resort to more extreme street actions to save the NHS if the political apparatus of our democracy, still in thrall to the financial and business sectors despite the 2008 Banking Crash, fails them?
Autumn 2017 sees them surprised and gratified both by the public support of world renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking for their campaign and by an overwhelming vote by delegates at the Labour Party’s annual conference for a motion supporting NHS renationalisation and the Reinstatement Bill. But will the Party itself adopt these policies for another Election that could come at any time given the precariousness of the Tory Government?
2018 sees leading campaigners with whom the 999ers are working taking the Government and NHS England to court in a last ditch attempt to forestall their plans to bring in US-modelled healthcare systems into the NHS. These will be pivotal to converting it into a public/private enterprise driven by commercial considerations rather than by public need – the effective termination of the NHS’ guiding principles and the final nail in the coffin of the post-War Dream of a more egalitarian and fairer society.
‘Groundswell’ covers a tipping point in Britain’s political landscape as the ‘new’ politics confronts the ‘old’ in the wake of the 2008 global banking crisis in what Joanna Adams calls “a fight not just for the NHS but for our Nation’s soul”.
Independently made on a shoestring budget, with director John Furse as a first-time cameraman using cheap, domestic camcorders, the film has received praise from across the political spectrum for the shocking truths it reveals that lie behind the ‘NHS crisis’ headlines, and for its unbiased, intimate and powerful roller-coaster storytelling.