On Saturday 3rd December I attended the demo in Exeter in favour of the NHS (may it’s shade increase). There was a fairly good turnout of sympathisers and comrades, clad in red, waving banners and delivering speeches. I met people of like mind and old friends from previous campaigns.
This was gratifying, but I was conscious of surrounding drifts of Saturday shoppers, not clad in red, passing by – in all senses of the phrase. Some took a leaflet on defending regional hospitals out of politeness, but otherwise did not engage with the protest activities, which bubbled along regardless.
Nelson Mandela (among others) pointed out that in politics it is not enough to talk to your friends; you already know what they think: you need to talk to your enemies. Here in Devon that means talking to the hordes of citizens who voted Tory, but remain citizens and potential users of the NHS. So, we need fewer self-congratulatory rallys and more public engagement events, like the Honiton conversazione on the Saturday before.