In September 2014 Harry Leslie Smith electrified the Labour Party conference with this incredible speech about the NHS:
His book covers much more than that subject, however – here he is to introduce it himself:
‘As one of the last remaining survivors of the Great Depression and the Second World War, I will not go gently into that good night. I want to tell you what the world looks like through my eyes, so that you can help change it…’
In November 2013, 91-year-old Yorkshireman, RAF veteran and ex-carpet salesman Harry Leslie Smith’s Guardian article – ‘This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time’ – was shared almost 60,000 times on Facebook and started a huge debate about the state of society.
Now he brings his unique perspective to bear on NHS cutbacks, benefits policy, political corruption, food poverty, the cost of education – and much more. From the deprivation of 1930s Barnsley and the terror of war to the creation of our welfare state, Harry has experienced how a great civilisation can rise from the rubble. But at the end of his life, he fears how easily it is being eroded.
Harry’s Last Stand is a lyrical, searing modern invective that shows what the past can teach us, and how the future is ours for the taking.
This site is all about being inspired by Harry’s example and standing up for what you believe in. We all have something that we care about – so let’s talk about it. It won’t a change the world – but it is a start! Head to the homepage to create your own book cover image that shows what it is that you stand up for, and share that on your favourite social network.
Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, a second world war RAF veteran and, at 91, an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. His Guardian articles have been shared over 60,000 times on Facebook and have attracted huge comment and debate. He has authored numerous books about Britain during the Great Depression, the second world war and postwar austerity. He lives outside Toronto, Canada and in Yorkshire. Follow Harry on Twitter @harryslaststand and on Facebook here.
Thanks to Dylan Reibling for the photos of Harry and the video above, Dan Mogford for the design of the site (and indeed the cover of the book) and to Simon Appleby of Bookswarm for the site’s construction.