Dunkirk

A war movie, without the distracting love stories and over poignant speeches.
A war movie that doesn’t worry about what Churchill is saying.
A war movie that doesn’t show an enemy face until the final seconds.
A war movie that doesn’t show blood or gore.
A war movie that shows Spitfire Mark 1s in 70mm IMAX.
A war movie that shows what it was like to try to return home and try to help the evacuation.
On land, on sea and in the air.
Compelling action. Bullets zinging. Bombs exploding. Torpedoes hitting. Ships sinking. Planes duelling. combattants bracing.
A war movie, not a survival movie, even if the Director says so.

So go see Dunkirk.

The surprise – what limited dialogue there is can’t be heard very cleary – a mistake not made since “The Patriot”.  Understandable maybe if the background is explosions, but when reading a newspaper article on a train back in Blighty?
Some of the storylines are a bit misjudged (the trawler, one event on the little ship) and there’s no celebration of French efforts.

The myths of Dunkirk

dunkirk movie german map leafletaaxxxxhPromotional interviews for the movie Dunkirk keep stressing how Churchill thought the operation to bring British and allied forces out of the trapped pocket might ony save 30,000 when 338,000 were to be relieved says more about our willingness to buy such stories rather than what was actually said by British senior officers.
And the story of the little ships being brought over by their owners was also something that took off after it was penned by an American author – they were mainly sailed by Royal Navy personnel.
Worst about it all is how the role of French soldiers in enabling the evacuation is underplayed.
Then ideas that Hitler was being kind to the British – more a judgment of a British army returning home was never going to come back and there were other objectives to meet.
Nor did the Luftwaffe particularly fail – they were asked to do too much from bases too far away.
And of course there are records of British servicemen poor discipline.
As it happens, the British were planning an evacuation a few days previous and a major operation after Dunkirk brought another 190,000 personnel to Britain.
The Allies were out thought and outmanoeuvred in the Battle of France.
And debacles were to follow elsewhere, notably in Singapore.

But enough already.
Cos the point is that even once we cut through the myths and hear more of the reality, the Dunkirk evacuation was still an extraordinary effort, including the French.  Something to be proud of and to draw inspiration from.

We have moved on

anti DUP tweet a0441h
A recent anti-DUP tweet. 
A disappointing reaction to the DUP becoming a much stronger part of the Conservatives who vote in the Commons are the tweets and posts highlighting connections to the Ultras during the troubles.
I can acknowledge the fury of those who support Jeremy after the hatchet jobs launched by many papers on condoning violence intended to put people in fear of what they normally do (especially Daily Mail which ran 13 pages on Wednesday) – some of which we saw in the streets on election day.
But if we are the people of hope and not hate, we have to acknowledge just what people went through, and how good it was and is that an agreement was reached.
Made even more tangible cos enemies as bitter as Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness can come together, and become the chuckle brothers.
Not saying concerns shouldn’t be expressed about LGBT issues, and Jonathan Powell expressing concerns for the future of N. Ireland is cautionary.
Just saying leave the seventies attitudes where they belong.

The Journey, a modern parable

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A terrific movie that rehearses the big arguments that we should appreciate as two sworn enemies brokered the St.Andrew’s Agreement in 2006.
The Journey” takes the trip Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness made for an urgent flight after the agreement was reached.
Here, critics appear to have a wobble. For one Northern Ireland correspondent, too much disregard for the facts; the characters not sufficiently captured. For one film critic, the dramatic device of the journey being monitored by all the other key participants not adding drama. Too harsh.
A parable has been created that entertains and illuminates, and reminds us well of just what a political journey these leaders took.

Ilkeston railway station is open

After 50 years, Ilkeston is back on the map.


Holding the Notts County Council Transport policies and programme for 1996/97, which included aims for a railway station in Ilkeston (2 in fact).
The new station is very near to Awsworth in Nottinghamshire, where Lisa is standing for Notts County Council in Stapleford and Broxtowe.


On the 10:46 to Nottingham, talked with a Mum, Gran and daughter from Ilkeston on the way back.
It was the daughter’s first trip on a train.
Mum said the bus trip could take 30 minutes to Nottingham, so perhaps 12 minutes quicker, but a much smoother journey.

A train operator spokesperson said journeys from the station to Nottingham should hopefully sell themselves – cos of the time gains and avoidance of congestion.

IMG_6708 (2)
Meanwhile bumped into Steve Calvert who I met in the Summer of 1993 (I was a new County Councillor) to explore how we could get railways stations for Ilkeston (yep stations, we wanted a north and south, for a town that once had 4!)
They didn’t listen then, they’re half-listening now.
But 24 years for a simple railway station is another reminder of how difficult railway development outside of London and the South-East is.
And we wanted a suburban rail network for Nottingham.

Article 50 letter to the European Union

That the negotiations to leave the European Union formally start today is merely the fallout of the country voting LEAVE in the referendum.
I think opinion is now slightly for REMAIN, but any change has not been significant enough to ignore the outcome of a referendum.
Leaving the EU will be a setback for Britain.
But in what way is still to be established by negotiation.
IMG_6374ac0591h 20100424 BurtonMail p10 SD euro debate
I tried to highlight membership of the EU in 2010 – see the Burton Mail clipping above.
Toyota have recently announced a new investment programme committing themselves to Burnaston.
So have we been too pessimistic about the impact of preparing to LEAVE?
True, Toyota and Nissan have committed to UK manufacture anew.  Signs are less optimistic regarding Vauxhall.
Releasing £350m a week for the NHS would not have kicked in by now anyway, but it ain’t gonna happen.
The country’s focus is in the wrong place.  Full employment on proper terms and conditions.  Success for all in education.  Getting back to maximum waiting times and tackling the growing demand for adult social care.  Social security.  Homes for all – proper sized homes.
Instead, large numbers of civil servants and others recruited to negotiate ourselves out of the EU.
Meanwhile, Labour’s six tests for a Brexit deal –
– Fair migration system for UK business and communities
– Retaining strong, collaborative relationship with EU
– Protecting national security and tackling cross-border crime
– Delivering for all nations and regions of the UK
– Protecting workers’ rights and employment protections
– Ensuring same benefits currently enjoyed within single market

Negotiate internationally and survive

I don’t object to the re-publication of the “Protect and Survive” pamphlet as a reminder of what was once published but the curator behind it is wrong to say it shows how close we came to a nuclear war.
The pamphlet was about building up the idea that we could fight and survive a nuclear war.
The particular notion was of a tactical nuclear war – i.e. within Europe only (strategic was USA and USSR exchanging ICBM with multiple nuclear weapons).
Protest and Suvive 015567The pamphlet did backfire (a pamphlet called “Protest and Survive” was published; CND was renewed, a campaign against “tactical nuclear war – European Nuclear Disarmament – was started and based in Nottingham).
But there were still plenty of people in places like Top Valley saying they’d survive a bomb detonated over Nottingham city centre.
Lots of nonsense about this –
– so a BBC documentary that showed the impact of a single weapon was salutory;
– that a nuclear war could be constrained to Europe was inexplicable – just how were enemies supposed to know where bombs had been sent from? (The Russians would understand we were only taking out a bridge across the River Rhine? Disappointing to hear a Labour MP giving the notion of deficits in tactical nuclear weapons some credence in the last major Parliamentary debate.)
– we know that it wouldn’t take many explaosions to throw so much material in the atmosphere as to cause a nuclear winter – not seeing the sun again for many months; (Yeah, Top Valley might survive, but then starve.)
As a country, we got stranded choosing between unilateral and multilateral disarmament (hopeless) – so nice to see the UN giving multilateral nuclear disarmament another push today.

Square_legA reminder that an exercise, called “Square Leg“, run in the eigthies presumed 131 nuclear explosions in and over Britain, meaning – “Mortality was estimated at 29 million (53 percent of the population); serious injuries at 7 million (12 percent); short-term survivors at 19 million (35 percent).”
Map scanned from ‘Doomsday, Britain after Nuclear Attack’ by Stan Openshaw, Philip Steadman and Owen Greene Basil Blackwell, 1983 ISBN 0-631-13394-1