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Smiling all the way: The late, great Harry Leslie Smith.

The better part of the UK has been in mourning for Harry Leslie Smith, the 95-year-old crusader who came to public attention in 2014 with his campaign to save the National Health Service from destruction at the hands of a Conservative government.

If you’re a fan of Mr Smith, you’ll have read and heard so many eulogies that anything I say here about him will be superfluous. He was a valued reader of Vox Political, as I was a fan of him, but I didn’t know him well.

His finest moment was his speech to the Labour Party conference in 2014, when he spelled out the consequences of letting the Conservatives take our publicly-funded, publicly-provided, free-at-the-point-of-use health service away from us, as they have been doing piecemeal since 2010:

Harry decided to become a campaigner because he remembered living in a United Kingdom that did not have a National Health Service and wanted to do whatever he could to prevent a return to those – let’s face it – barbarous days.

You can get a taste of it in an extract from his book, Harry’s Last Stand, that you can read here.

It seems to me that people will propose many ways to commemorate this inspirational man – this suggestion from Rachael Swindon is a topical example:

They will all have merit, I’m sure.

But wouldn’t it be the best way to celebrate his life if we all do what we can to achieve his aim – and save the NHS from the Tories.

Harry knew he was close to the end of his life when he started talking about the NHS. He wasn’t doing it for himself – he did it for us.

Those of you who have followed This Site for a long time will know that I believe the best possible leadership is leadership by example – and I would say Harry has shown us the best possible leadership.

So let’s do something for him: Take up the torch he has left behind, follow his example and finish the job he started – by speaking out publicly against Tory dismantling of the NHS wherever we find it.

During his last few days, Twitter-based fans were urged to tweet using the hashtag #istandwithHarry

We can’t stand with Harry any more. He’s made his Last Stand. It’s time for us to make our stand instead.

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