Nae Pasaran

Went for its last local showing out of a sense of duty – and it was so much better than that.
A desert war veteran and Rolls-Royce engineer realises that 8 engines for extensive and high quality renovation at the East Kilbride factory are for Chilean Air Force Hawker Hunter jet planes of the kind used to attack the seat of government in Chile during in the CIA inspired coup of an elected government. “They’re blacked”. And management can’t get him to change his position. And the engines are boxed and later sent out into the yard and not moved. This turns out to reduce the operational effectiveness of the Chilean Air Force, and possibly even see some of their planes fall out of the sky.
It’s a symbol of goodness, and most significantly, an indication of what having strong unions could mean.
Some great stories too of how what was done has since been celebrated.
The Guardian gives it 3 stars; (e:3; s:4; p:4).

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Jack Jones documentary

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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.

‘Allo, ‘Allo

allo_allo_castYeah,secret-army-p01nkrzh never a fan of “‘Allo, ‘Allo“.
Never watched it.
It seemed to me an insult.
I loved the earnest “Secret Army” which dramatised the underground organisation that put so much at stake in their efforts to get 300 RAF personnel back to Britain.  And “‘Allo ‘Allo” came in to ridicule it. private-schulz-ac720264-523f-4e32-8c66-7815da29e4b2
It was backwards in other ways – stereotypes for characters.   Contrast with “Private Schulz“, broadcast a year earlier, was a drama-comedy that was grown up, featured German soldiers as lead characters and tackled foreign accents by speaking very formally when speaking in a foreign language.
Still safe enough dads-army-hqdefaultwith Dad’s Army eh? Some stereotyping, with an dads-army-criticismelement of idiocy (that even Morecambe & Wise used).
Then a mate of mine rips into the titles!  (‘Feeding a myth of plucky Britain when our army’s leaders had made idiotic mistakes.’)
Comedy – tricky, especially if you take a political view.
My trade union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, has published a video highlighting the absurdity of the privatised British train operating companies, being owned in many cases by European state owned railways, and making profits because they are subsidised.
Take a look.

1.7 million views within its first 3 days.
I think the video is misjudged – for an internationalist organisation like my union – the TSSA.
Elsewhere, others have said it well – why make the Europeans in the video appear to crow over British people?
Don’t thi
nk it’s stereotypical but it is a tad unpleasant.
Daily Mirror Front Page 240696A more internationalist approach would be to say – hey, here’s why we’ve stuck with tssa-g-large_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqmb1puxpjlcnrgg6rsffrzn0bo8whxbcsthi7hcpsx9m-pngpublic ownership, and then point out how British tax revenues are subsidising companies maing profits.
Always gotta be careful using England vs Germany football matches, cos that generates some other emotions, but as it happens, it’s a British, not English, issue.
That said, I think MP Stella Creasey’s criticisms of the video are a bit unthinking too – the characters are not portrayed in a stereotypical way.
Stella attacks Momentum for promoting the video, but interesting to see that Momentum were sensitive about criticism by tv critic Charlie Brooker about Jeremy Corbyn.  Some great lines here.
Comedy, eh?

 

Conspiracy against strike leaders of building workers dramatised for the stage

… or a play about the Shrewsbury 2.
IMG_6342b0162h nottm arts theatre united we stand shrewsbury picket
A terrific education.
And, in patches, terrific entertainment.
Principles. Inspiration. Nostalgia.
Recommended, save there are only a few dates left and none local.

I come from Shrewsbury. And I’m kinda surprised that it’s the home of two high profile conspiracy stories – the killing of Hilda Murrell and the Shrewsbury 2 / 3 / 6 / 24 – both of which the subject of plays. DNA technology found the conspiracy theory around the murder was unfounded.

The authors of this play and the Shrewsbury 24 campaign are clear this was a conspiracy – to find striking construction workers guilty of conspiracy under a rarely used 1875 conspiracy law.
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The conspiracy charge runs thus – strike leaders associated with a picket on the Brookside estate in Telford New Town on 6th September 1972 were picked out for an investigation by police officers, after a national 10 week strike had been settled. Following a successful miners strike and the liberation of 5 jailed London dockers, the establishment – notably the Conservative gov’t and their party treasurer, McAlpine – wanted retribution. McAlpine whose family had provided the High Sheriff of nearby Denbighshire for 8 times in succession. McAlpine – the developer of the Brookside estate that became the focus of the court case.
The final parts of the first half of the play makes these points in a very entertaining way.
The final parts of the court case which makes up the second half are good too, although other exchanges are more confusing.
Singing segways the scenes – as the actors re-arrange the scenery. In the context of this story, some of the traditional songs are very powerful, although the acoustic version of The Sweet’s “Blockbuster” as background music for a video of the first years of the Edward Heath government was bewildering (yet terrific nostalgia).
The actors exhibited all the stage crafts, including fetching members of the audience still in the bar at the end of the interval (guilty m’lud).
As the Guardian review points out, the play has something to say whatever your politics – the use of leftist pathos is there but not as much as I might have expected.
It’s a fantastic reminder of the quality of grassroots activity of the early seventies – stuff I wish we had now. And of why the trade unions had to win on pay, terms & conditions and health & safety. “Kill, kill, kill the lump“. Well, the lump is back now in a different form – zero and low hours contracts – and we need to win again.
Whilst the Sweet song made me smile, I was not too happy with the use of the Strawbs song which at the time I saw as an anti-union song; (the wiki write up is conflicted; and I wonder if this production changes the words).
At the end of this performance, Terry Renshaw, the youngest of the Shrewsbury 24, gave a speech and explained that the court papers are withheld until at least 2021, although the Labour Party is committed to changing this if elected in May.
Terry said there were still health and safety issues in construction and the Nottingham tram expansion project had hit a problem when workers were required to pay a fee to get their wages.
This performance was staged at the Nottingham Arts Theatre in Hockley.