Hard-Left doctors who used Marxist tactics to secure the leadership of the British Medical Association are pushing for co-ordinated strikes with other unions.
It comes after 48,000 junior doctor members of the BMA in England were balloted on strikes last week. It could result in an unprecedented 72-hour walkout in March as they demand a 30 per cent pay rise.
But revelations about the links with other hardline unions will raise fears there could be a de facto general strike that would cripple the UK.
Young radicals on the governing council of the doctors’ union have already come together to make a BMA ‘solidarity donation’ to the strike fund for Mick Lynch’s RMT rail union
It is the culmination of the work of a small group of mainly 20-something doctors who formed the Broad Left group a year ago.
Their name stems from a Communist Party strategy to ‘unite to capture positions within a union’ and move it Leftwards to ‘win concessions from capitalism and the state’.
When they launched with a social media Q&A session, the group’s Marxist links were not lost on one medic, who asked: ‘Is your logo intended to look a bit like a hammer and sickle?’
The leadership dodged that question, but has since enjoyed a remarkable rise by working hand-in-hand with Doctor’s Vote, a group of medics calling solely for an enormous 30 per cent pay rise.
Together they managed to win 26 of the 69 places on the BMA council in April before landing 59 of the 60 spots on the BMA’s junior doctors committee in September.
Hard-Left doctors who used Marxist tactics to secure the leadership of the British Medical Association are pushing for co-ordinated strikes with other unions
Revelations about the links with other hardline unions will raise fears there could be a de facto general strike that would cripple the UK
Among those elected to the BMA council was Dr Jo Sutton-Klein, a Broad Left founding member, self-declared socialist and Labour Party member who has vowed to make the BMA a ‘fighting union’.
She was one of 25 BMA council members who urged the doctor’s union to ‘make a statement of solidarity’ with the RMT.
The BMA put out a statement last summer expressing its ‘solidarity with rail workers and the RMT in their ongoing dispute’.
Dr Sutton-Klein, 28, was among the council members who contributed to a collective BMA donation of £1,000 to the RMT’s strike funds.
Professor Philip Banfield, chairman of council at the doctors’ union, said the contribution ‘represents the essential bond shared between organised workers today’.
Dr Sutton-Klein posted a blog on the BMA website saying her donation was to enable the rail union ‘to strike for longer’.
Professor Philip Banfield, chairman of council at the doctors’ union, said the contribution ‘represents the essential bond shared between organised workers today’
Dr Sutton-Klein has called on the BMA to work with other militant unions. She tried to co-ordinate action by tweeting the Manchester University Health Branch of Unison in November, writing: ‘I’m a BMA organiser at MRI [Manchester Royal Infirmary].
‘I’m looking to contact reps from other unions at MRI to coordinate trade union organising across the workplace!’
The junior doctor also admitted that ‘if it was necessary’ she would back a ‘full-scale walkout, including emergency care’.
A handful of junior doctors set up Broad Left after discussions over pay with like-minded medics on social media site Reddit.
It was established for BMA members to enforce their Left-wing agenda. While it does not have direct links with other trade unions, there are many other Broad Left groups.
The RMT has a Broad Left group which backed Marxist Alex Gordon, an executive committee member of the Communist Party of Britain, who serves as the rail union’s president.
Broad Left’s success in capturing the BMA has been put down to its use of tactics straight out of the playbook of Momentum, the hard-Left faction that backed Jeremy Corbyn.
The biggest example of this is perhaps the election of Broad Left ringleader Dr Emma Runswick – who dubs herself Red Runswick – as deputy chairman of the BMA council last July.
Broad Left’s success in capturing the BMA has been put down to its use of tactics straight out of the playbook of Momentum, the hard-Left faction that backed Jeremy Corbyn
Her mother, Kathy Runswick, was a Momentum-supporting Constituency Labour Party chairman who backed Mr Corbyn.
The Manchester-based mental health trainee, 27, has assured fellow medics the 30 per cent pay rise is ‘affordable’.
Her group claims inflation has given them a real-term pay cut of 26 per cent since 2008. Dr Runswick shares her parents’ hatred of all things Conservative, accusing the party of racism.
Another junior doctor and founder of Broad Left elected to the BMA council is Dr Rebecca Acres, 31, of Studley, Warwickshire. She describes herself as a Christian who ‘thinks Jesus would have been Left-wing too by modern standards’.
She is not a member of Labour, stating that under Sir Keir Starmer the party is just ‘proto-fascist red Tories’.
Dr Rebecca Bates, 28, is also a founding member of Broad Left elected to the BMA council. She described the 2015 Conservative victory as a ‘Tory nightmare’.
Professor Banfield said: ‘The BMA is incredibly proud of these talented doctors who have worked their way up to now be part of our democratically elected council. These doctors are right to want to fight for all doctors to be fairly paid.’