at the Labour Party’s conference in Manchester, England, on Wednesday in what seems like poetic verse, the nearly century-old Harry Smith recalls his youth in the tenements of Britain, the “desperation of poverty” and the horrors of life before the National Health Service was implemented, all of which inspired him to vote for the first time. Though Smith starts off with a joke about the BBC show “Downton Abbey,” the rest of his speech is gut-wrenching as he recounts the preventable death of his 10-year-old sister due to lack of funds and the cries of a neighboring woman dying of cancer without being able to afford morphine. In the middle of his talk, the 91-year-old British citizen received a standing ovation from an emotional crowd.

Smith also highlighted the importance of keeping the NHS free for all, and warned that if it wasn’t, “Your future will be my past.” And when he eventually concluded by urging everyone to shout at any chance, “Mr. Cameron, keep your mitts off my NHS!” he was cheered on by an auditorium filled with, one can hope, people who will do just that in their struggle to keep the promise of universal health care alive.

Also read: British PM Cameron Enabling Wall Street’s Takeover of National Health Service

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig