Trident has denuded the Royal Navy of ships

Commander Robert Forsyth RN (ret’d) came to Nottingham to say that Parliament should be involved in the re-targeting of nuclear weapons, otherwise the Prime Minister and Trident submarine commanding officers would be placed in legal jeopardy.

He was commanded a Polaris nuclear submarine (a deputy) and what came across was how and his boat’s commander rehearsed time and again the scenarios under which they’d launch nuclear weapons.
Thought-provoking to hear him explain how he’d thought those discussions had been based on wrong thinking about the deterrence. Time and again there have been episodes when a nuclear war had nearly started, and looking back, would not have been justified – e.g. Operation Archer could have started Armageddon on the basis of a faulty radar reading.
Dismay was expressed at the 2016 Trident Parliamentary debate (he’d thought Theresa May had called opponents “traitors”) .
It was a dreadful debate.
So badly ill-informed compared to the eighties. Perhaps the argument to drop Trident can be won on the cost alone – full life cost estimated between £150bn – £204bn. (The initial £40 million has denuded the Royal Navy of ships such as frigates (£250 million each).) But if there was greater awareness, there would not be support for nuclear missile exchanges which would lead to unprecedented death and destruction, and the hard to envisage nuclear winter.
Testimony to that was President Reagan’s change when he saw a TV movie produced in the mid-eighties. And it was suggested that if he hadn’t hung his faith on a Star Wars defence, a nuclear free world agreed by him and Gorbachov would have been achieved.


Damian le Bas on gypsy culture

20181114 204500 mb1090h five leaves bookshop damian le bas gypsy britainA quality meeting and worthwhile discussion at Five Leaves bookshop.
Damian le Bas, former editor of Travellers Times and author of “The Stopping Places”, talked about gypsy and traveller culture and history, drawing on readings from a couple of passages in his book.
The people are most often seen as a way life, but many are and ethnic minority, and not all of them travel.  Subject to institutional prejudice (exclusion from education in some places in Britain as late as the sixties), all sorts of matters were rehearsed in discussion.
I raised a number of issues from the visit to Victoria Embankment in the summer, to experiences in South Derbyshire in 2009 & 2010.
Leeds City appear to be the authority to look to regarding best practice by a local authority.


BBC tv’s “Bodyguard” was not credible, and councillors and MPs know it. Here’s the proof – when an elected representative holds an advice surgery, it’s shown being held in an open hall, where loads of people can see clients take their concerns to the representative in public. Just wrong;
And fans of Jed Mercurio know it too,  When one of three behind all the wrong-doing turns out to be a “bent copper”, she is interviewed without someone from anti-corruption (e.g. AC-12) being present and questions are not asked by an officer one rank senior to the officer being questioned, or in the presence of one (I’m sure the Chief Constable of East Midlands, or an assistant would have been available).
The writer is to blame! Jed Mercurio has used 4 series of “Line of Duty” to bang the proper procedures home and yet he ignored this.

This has been the most popular BBC tv drama series of the decade and hurrah – cos it ain’t by Dickens or one of the Bronte’s, or that guy from Warwickshire.
But apparently people are disappointed cos the ending left too many questions open. What the series missed was some kind of character (like Ted Hastings) who actually stressed why getting the right outcome in the right way matters.
And in this series, a politician (cos “politics is where people stand tall”) could have provided that role.  But none of the politicians are shown to have the right character.
Instead you’re merely left with relief that the main character (who did turn out to be for real and a hero in the story) survived, and an unease that so many were ready to see him killed.
The action sequences made the series compelling.


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A small-scale film from which an actor from the “This is England” series who draws on his life experiences as an amateur boxer to write and convey a story of dealing with problems like alcohol addiction.
Though said not to be typical of a boxer movie – an almost life or death movie against a champion – it does have the somewhat predictable fight sequence of almost looking defeated before making a come back.
Despite some of the formulaic stuff, the film is distinctive, if a tad slow.
(r:6.6; e:3, s:3, t:3.)

Working Class heroes in British film

In a fim course, it came as something of a shock that the films picked out to portray working class life, were ones that featured individuals somewhat on the edge of the mainstream of working class people –  Arthur Seaton in “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning“; Jo in “A Taste of Honey“; Billy Casper in “Kes“;  Jimmy Cooper in “Quadrophenia“; Renton in “Trainspotting“; Shaun in “This is England“; Jimmy McCabe in “Jawbone“.
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Film struggles beyond telling the stories of lead individuals, and doesn’t have the time to tell stories of individual development, especially through the world of work where you acquire knowledge, skills and experiences, that give you the confidence to say we the people can do things, cos we are together and we take responsibility.

Nor do any of the films talk about people that came from the working classes to be lead the country – Jack Jones, Ernest Bevin.  (There was a short tv series on Nye Bevan. Note, our greatest, Clem Attlee, George Orwell and Michael Foot came from more privileged backgrounds.)

It’s as if the best we can expect from the media of films is social liberalism.
It’s as if the progress in the UK has been Socialist, without the emphasis on special individuals.
Whatever, I feel like the country is missing some films that tells people. what we really are, and what we delivered., under Clem, under Harold, and even under Tony.

But in it all, a sense of disappointment that this is the list of films that show the British working class.  Surely, we deserved more.

Jack Jones documentary

Striking image for a documentary on Jack Jones, largely financed with union funds.
A reminder of a union leader whose political values and organisational capability led to him creating Britain’s largest union.
Often on the tele to get the values across and to ensure justice at the workplace was a media issue – kinda missing that in particular these days.
The documentary makes the point that low hours contracts are the casualisation of labour that was fought against for all those years.
Born in a deprived part of Liverpool, his commitment to the cause and for trade unions was “in your bones”, as Dennis Skinner put it.
Opposing fascism and fighting in the Spanish Civil War was celebrated, although his service as a Liverpool City Councillor (he was the youngest councillor) wasn’t.
Taking union organisation in the motor city of Coventry to a new level.
He was very well-known, and highly regarded by the public, and in retirement led the National Pensioners’ Convention.

For sons of 70’s trade unions activists like me, the documentary is not only a rehearsal of good values, but also an immersion in nostalgia as you recognise all the activists and leaders from the past.  Oh and Mike Yarwood.

It is surprising that documentaries like these haven’t already been made, especially by the BBC who had people like Michael Cockerill who could have done something with the life story.  This documentary has too many testifiers from now and not enough film from then.
Maybe something could then have been said about his time as a Councillor.  Maybe some recognition for advances made for pensioners by new Labour before his death in 2009.