New documentary charts the struggle to defend the welfare state


PENSIONERS UNITED opens with Tony Benn describing the NHS as “pure socialism.” This marks the fundamental theme of Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell’s 90-minute documentary.

Using extensive footage and interviews with grassroots campaigners, the film argues that we’re in a critical fight to defend the post-war welfare state.

The fact that most of the people making that argument are old enough to have seen dramatic changes in our society only adds weight.

The primary focus of the film is Liverpool and its deep culture of political resistance.

Benn’s tribute to the NHS is enacted by the vibrant local campaign to save the city’s women’s hospital.

This is one example of many in the film where working-class consciousness has a vision beyond the limits of the political and bureaucratic establishment.

At a time when women’s rights are regularly but superficially discussed in the mainstream media, it is the women of Liverpool who are fighting to defend a pioneering specialist health and maternity service.