Harry Leslie Smith: Thousands Send Support As Activist Remains Critically Ill

Second World War veteran has been celebrated for anti-austerity campaigning.
PA Ready News UK

Well-wishers have been sending messages of support to Second World War veteran and political activist Harry Leslie Smith, who is critically ill in hospital with suspected pneumonia following a fall.

The 95-year-old was in a critical condition on Wednesday, according to his son John, whom Harry was visiting in Canada when the accident occurred.

Tweeting from his father’s account, John wrote on Wednesday: “24 hours in and Harry is still in emerg waiting for an ICU bed thanks to the politics of austerity in Ontario.”

He added that the Barnsley-born activist had been allowed to drink a cup of tea.

Back in the UK, friends and supporters were sending their best wishes, led by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and other Labour MPs.

Corbyn wrote: “Very sorry to hear this. Please pass on my best to Harry. We need him to get well soon as the National Health Service, and our movement, needs him,” while deputy leader Tom Watson added: “You are in my thoughts Harry.”

Smith, who was a pilot in the Second World War, spoke passionately about the NHS at the Labour Party conference in 2014.

He has been a notable campaigner against austerity, gaining a big following on social media and even starting his own podcast.

Stars from the world of entertainment also sent their best wishes.

Chocolat author Joanne Harris wrote: “Thinking tonight of @Harryslaststand, a firebrand and a hero,” while actor Adrian Lester described him as “an inspiration”.

The hashtag #istandwithharry trended on Wednesday morning as people continued to send their support.

John sent a string of updates on his father’s condition, describing his cough as “bone shattering” as he slept again on Wednesday afternoon.

Harry initially went in to hospital on Tuesday, tweeting himself before his son took over: “Bugger of a day, had a fall and now I am in hospital. It’s nothing just low blood pressure, but signing off for the next few hours.”

After the huge show of support for his father, John tweeted: “He sleeps and when he wakes for a moment I tell him about the love flowing out from Twitter. ‘tell them I love them all.’”


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