Why I joined: Steve Watkins

I joined in 1972 because I was an active Conservative and Conservative Central Office encouraged members to join their union in order to fight the vicious left wing saboteurs who were undermining the country. I didn’t actually find any such saboteurs, only a group of people committed to creating a better world. I became a committed and active trade unionist. I remained a Conservative until the Thatcher government attacked the trade union movement and then I perceived a conflict of duty and left the Conservative Party.

Why would I recommend the union to new members?

It is good to be part of a union which is affiliated to the TUC, which includes other members of the health team not just doctors, which is a general union with influence across a range of industries and which is unequivocally committed to a publicly owned and publicly managed NHS through which society pursues health as a social goal. 

As I believe that change is brought about by individuals and communities, I am committed to the social movements of the people and I am proud to be part of the medical organisation of those movements. (This was true even when I was a Conservative – for most people freedom and opportunity depend on collective action).

What were the highlights?

In the 1970s getting the BMA machinery committed to part-time training.

In the 1980s seeing the achievement of the new deal on hours of work.

In the 1990s seeing the replacement of fundholding with locality commissioning.

In the 2000s winning the battle for family planning to be recognised as a specialty.

In the 2010s seeing a member of DiU elected as a chief officer of the BMA.