This video from Britain says about itself:
Harry Leslie Smith – I don’t want my past to become Britain’s future
5 July 2016
When Harry Leslie Smith left to serve in World War II “no health care was the norm”. When he returned after extended service, the Labour Party had created a health service ‘free at the point of use’ – the NHS.
Harry warns us, “I don’t want my past to become Britain’s future”. His history is our history.
On its 68th birthday and on a day when our junior doctors voted against a contract being imposed upon them which they say is not safe for patients and not sustainable – we must resolve to protect the National Health Service.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Do not despair, have hope and determination
Tuesday 26th September 2017
In part one of a two part Q&A, HARRY LESLIE SMITH talks to the Star about the deeply troubling times we find ourselves in
THE title of your book has a rather ominous warning for today’s Labour Party members. Why did you decide to write this now?
One of the main motivating factors that I had for writing Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future over the last year, is time. I am 94 and my dance on this earth is coming to a close. I am one of the last few people that can remember Britain in the 1920s and early 1930s when life for working-class citizens was beyond atrocious, it was shameful.
It essential for me that I spend whatever moments I have left on this earth warning people that the horrors my generation endured are only a heartbeat away for our youngest generation because of austerity, neoliberalism and a growing indifference to the suffering of those less fortunate than us.
What are the main lessons you would like today’s Labour members to gain from your life?
The main lessons I think Labour members can get from my life is not to despair, to have hope, determination and to target one’s anger at those entitled few who believe that the good life should only be for the 1 per cent.
Labour members should never forget that there can be no compromise when it comes to a public NHS, and affordable education or affordable housing. We can make this nation a green and promised land once again, if we return to the grit and determination of my generation who wouldn’t settle for second best when it comes to workers’ rights or their right to a Britain for and by the people.
Moreover, I hope Labour members will learn that my life only had purpose in it because I was able to love and be loved. Without love we cannot build a proper society, without compassion, empathy and a sense of joy, life isn’t worth living.
Do you think that younger generations will be able to avoid the mistakes of those that have gone before?
This is such a watershed moment in our country’s destiny as well as the world’s that I am afraid the younger generation won’t be afforded the luxury of making mistakes like mine was. Unfortunately, the younger generations who will come to power will be like a bomb disposal unit where one false move, one wrong wire cut, means annihilation.
Those that come to power or come to influence power over the next five years has to get it right on the first crack or else I fear there will be civil unrest or world war. Britain has to get it right, Russia has to get it right, Europe, America and Asia all have to get their acts together or else we going to propelled into something far worse than first or second world war.
It’s often said that as people get older they become more conservative. Do you think that’s true and, if so, how can people avoid becoming closed-minded as they get older?
There is some truth to that and I think people becoming more conservative as they get older comes from fear and uncertainty. I think the greatest problem with old age is you start to feel your mortality and that can cause panic in some people which makes them become more conservative in their thinking. Also if you become disconnect from society from age that leaves you infirm, you can feel resentment that life has somehow cheated you, which can also make you become more conservative.
However, my experience is that those who are the most conservative in old age were more than likely pretty miserable bastards in their youth. From the simple fact that I was born into a desperately poor family, who were destroyed by economic forces beyond their control, guaranteed me that as long as I live I will fight for the underdog.
I think what would prevent older people from being closed-minded is not to cut yourself off from the world as you age. I have always been curious about people and the world which helped me through the death of my wife and middle son. Moreover, I think the most important thing you must ask yourself at any age is what I will leave behind when I am no more.
State healthcare has gone through a lot of changes in your lifetime. What are your thoughts on the current state of the NHS?
The NHS is in crisis today because of chronic underfunding, the demoralisation of staff through wage caps as well as the gradual erosion of access to healthcare through the creep of privatisation within our public healthcare system.
I am under no illusions that if the Tories remain in power for another two years, the NHS won’t be fit for purpose.
We cannot forget that to a Tory MP the NHS is just a concept because their life as well as their family and peer group is well protected by wealth and power. They know they will never need to rely upon the NHS because they have the luxury to be able to afford private health insurance. It always baffles me how the voter can trust a Tory politician to do the right thing for the country because their lifestyle precludes them from understanding the horror that the daily grind has inflicted on the average citizen.
The NHS can only recover and become the great institution it once was when Labour returns to government under a banner of social democracy where the burden of society is also the responsibility of wealthy corporations, not just ordinary workers.
Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, an RAF veteran, activist for the welfare state, author of Harry’s Last Stand, Love Among the Ruins, 1923 and The Empress of Australia. His latest book Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future, published by Little Brown, is available now for £14.99 in hardback.