How Brits are using #welovetheNHS to support Obama

Karen Bruce campaigning for Barack ObamaLast October I went on holiday to Philadelphia, which is in Pennsylvania and was one of the key states that Barack Obama needed to win. We ended up as a bit of a busman’s holiday as we spent a good bit of time campaigning for Obama. For the holiday we did a house swap with a couple in Philadelphia so we ended up volunteering in the local Fishtown office of the Democrats. What was most amazing is how similar it was canvassing the streets of Philadelphia to doing the same in places like Garforth, Methley, Swillington, Rothwell and Wetherby.The picture is me and Esme preparing to set out to do some good old-fashioned door knocking.

You hear some amazing and moving stories on the doorstep. In one house we visited the mother and grandmother were adamant they weren’t going to bother voting because “all politicians are the same”. After I’d spoken to them for a while we discovered that the grandfather was plagued with health problems and couldn’t afford the treatment he really needed. I explained that all politicians weren’t the same and that one of Obama’s main commitments was healthcare reform to give families like theirs a fair opportunity to receive the same healthcare that in the USA only the privileged can afford. I was so excited when I realised that my arguments had succeeded and that the whole family had pledged to support Obama!

President Obama (I still get goose bumps when I say it) is now fighting right-wing Republicans to get his healthcare reform plans enacted. The Republicans are resorting to every dirty trick in the book and are launching vicious attacks on our NHS, claiming that it’s “socialist” healthcare and it doesn’t give people the care they’d get under America’s private system. The Republicans are running nasty TV ads full of lies attacking the NHS.

Yesterday an amazing thing happened and a guy called Graham Lineham decided to use the internet and people power to fight back. Graham is better known as the award winning comedy writer behind Father Ted and The IT Crowd. He started a hash tag on Twitter called #welovetheNHS, within hours it was the most talked about topic on Twitter as thousands and thousands of people starting sharing their stories of how the NHS had helped them. The Labour Party has now put together a fantastic little widget that means you can display these moving stories on your website or Facebook. As well as showing it below I’ve created a special page for it here.