Ken Fleet

Ken Fleet on a European nuclear disarmament demonstration in Brussels, 1981.
Photo from Tony Simpson and the Guardian.
I happened to be at that demo, but travelled with colleagues from Birmingham.

Ken Fleet organised many of the radical groups run from Nottingham, along with Ken Coates, that gave Nottingham such a radical reputation in the eighties.
Always pleasant to talk with.
Tony Simpson has written an obituary, published in The Guardian.

Extract of obituary written by Tony Simpson.

Clement Attlee came to power 80 years ago

The Labour statesman Clement Attlee (1883-1967). He was Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Since local elections generally take place between the 1st and 7th May, it’s been quite a time for my Labour Councillor friends, celebrating their anniversaries as Councillors.
And why not? Available every waking hour and seeking to implement a free society with no unjustifiable inequalities to help the many rather than just a few from a council and ward level.  
On Friday, we were invited to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, but the signs are that we’ll be invited to think of in terms of veterans from the armed forces rather recalling the wider efforts of the people, their long hours, low rations and extra duties that put more of them in jeopardy.  
Through experience of a planned economy and consideration of the previous inequalities in health care, and wealth and employment (especially in the ’30s), people came to want more; and voted for it on 5th July.  
So on Sunday, 26th July, we can celebrate the 75th anniversary of Clem Attlee and the Labour government coming to power. The day when Britain “won the peace”.
And as a friend recently pointed out, we overlook the contribution of Labour to organising the delivery of victory.

So this Sunday, we can celebrate the 80th anniversary of Clem Attlee and Arthur Greenwood joining the government. Viewers of the “Darkest Hour“, broadcast for the first time on BBC tv, can be forgiven for wondering who Clem was, if they didn’t ready know. The dialogue he had was for a debate that Arthur led on, and in which Churchill gave the government case – instead the film showed an empty seat with a hat on (laughable).

Victory in Europe Day – 75 years on

VE-Day; telegram from Eisenhower; front page of Nottingham Evening Post.

Hard to celebrate during the lockdown, but the television broadcasts are also a bit safe and dull. Perhaps I’ve read too much Spike Milligan, but I thought there was a great deal of irreverence around.
Socialists have of course been keen to emphasise the victory over fascism.
Keir Starmer’s video was broader than that.
But it appears we all might have been trumped by Germany’s SPD party and also by the speech by the German President.

Saw some front garden parties, where people might just have crossed the line, but tricky for anyone to police. Enjoyed a garden tribute to one WWII soldier.
My penance for not doing more on VE Day – learning more about the Nuremberg trials.

I wonder what some were hoping the message was going to be today as they made the 75th anniversary of VE Day a public holiday.  
Perhaps – that Britain at its best can be the best and doesn’t need anyone else.  
Well, watch the history and know, we absolutely did need others; know that the WWII spirit in facing down a crisis lasted as long as the panic buying for toilet rolls; and realise, that Britain, despite the efforts of our key workers, is nowhere near its best, just when we needed to be.

We can do better; we can be better; no more lions being led by donkeys.


John Howes served on the western front

John Howes – Dad and Grandad. Called up Christmas 1942 just before his 19th birthday. Landed in France 22nd of June 1944. Saw action at Caen, Brest and beyond. Only brother killed in Burma 1944 aged 24. Wounded and hospitalised 30.3.1945. Voted Labour in 1945 – Attlee was his MP. NHS delivered in 1948. Lifetime pacificist thereafter. A great generation – we owe them so much. Photo shows him with a tank crew and tank in Belgium in December 1944.

Happened across this on my exercise walk; a simple display of paper and cardboard and gaffer tape; a member of a tank crew, that a descendant wanted to celebrate; not only for his service, but also for his politics.  
Of course, so many could be celebrated in this way today.  
But I happened across this one, so here it is.

The Man with the Iron Heart

Only 2 reviews from Google, but they sum the film up well.

An unpleasant film to watch cos it brings life to horrible atrocities by the Nazis in Eastern Europe during WWII.
The film is well made and well shot, but just horrible cos of what it shows. So it becomes a duty to watch.
A reminder at how the mass executions started through mass shootings.
I think the film didn’t go on general release cos another film on the same events came out just before it. Currently available on BBC i-player.


The Personal History of David Copperfield

A version of the Charles Dickens story that seeks to skip over the gravity and the misery within the tale when it can, to become a story of reward for the good and those in need, over the cruel and the corrupt.
Entertaining and colourful, with actors who bring even more life. A theatrical presentation. Smiled more than I laughed (cos of not knowing how the story was to unfold); a definite feel good movie.
Go See. Wiki. Observer (5 stars).

A Hidden Life

Nearly 3 hours. Or have I missed the point?
“The film depicts the life of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. The film’s title was taken from George Eliot‘s book Middlemarch.” – from Wikipedia.
Yeah, but 3 hours.
You see how beautiful the higher parts of Austria are; and some of their villages and churches; and the mountains, fields and rivers; and the rural railways int the age of steam.
The film certainly conveys the. religious beliefs of Franz Jägerstätter and his wife. And conveys the authoritarianism of Austria under the Nazis, and how Austrians changed under Fascism.

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

George Eliot

Will anyone remember the defiance demand the interrogators? Well, the film itself says ‘they will now’. But the Catholic Church has already beatified him.
The couple are heroes, but of the suffering kind.
(I wonder if films exist to celebrate those who struggled and campaigned against Nazism in Austria? At least Herr von Trapp’s defiance resulted in a Nazi motor car being disabled.)
This is a worthwhile film. Just be mentally prepared for the 3 hours.