Spirit of 2013

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti has rather belatedly warned that the austerity packages imposed by the EU aren’t working and are causing massive disaffection and resentment across Europe. Very true, but is anyone going to give us an alternative (excluding obviously lunatic UKIP-type rantings)?

 We’ve been led to believe that there is no alternative due to the serious economic circumstances (created let’s not forget by the greed and stupidity of the banks). With politicians failing to express a radical alternative to more of the same, it’s left to comedians or film-makers to the express the fury and disillusionment of Europe’s people and to suggest a more collective, humane approach.

   Ken Loach’s new film documentary Spirit of 45 reminds us that there were, and are alternatives to near economic collapse with the election of a Labour Government after the Second World War. It’s currently showing in cinemas. Watch the trailer, then create your own 1945 character, how would your life have been without the welfare state? My 1945 name is Beryl. 

It’s both a warning and a wake-up call for politicians in the UK and in Italy. Say something worth listening to, or reap the consequences at the next election. Hating the Tories or Berlusconi isn’t enough to win. After last week’s budget, Labour leader Ed Miliband seemed to have understood, “At the next election, the biggest opponent will be the sense that no one can sort out this problem. Our challenge is not to let people succumb to fatalism and think nothing can be done.” But he needs to be braver. Much braver. Leader of the Unite trade union Len McCluskey warned him that, “If Labour doesn’t stand up for the aspirations of ordinary people – the 99%, if you like – then what is its purpose?”

   Things can be done. Things do change. The world hasn’t been like this forever. It is not how it has to be. 


  1. On Radio 4 today they gave %'s of people who thought others were scrounging off the welfare state. It was far higher than the reality.
    We do need people to stop believing the filthy rich who like to blame the poor. It's so convenient and a good way to protect your assets when you can pay lower and lower wages,charge higher and higher rents,charge more and more for fuel ( and death rates have really gone up this winter )and then tell people its the recession that is causing the problem or its the scroungers or ” the immigrants” who are to blame.
    The big message of The Spirit of 45 was that after the poverty of the 30's and the hardships of the 2nd world war people no longer believed such crap and wanted jobs, decent housing,free health care and support for people who fell on hard times due to fluctuating labour markets, ill health or old age.
    Which should we support?-Helping the rich get richer or helping each other to have the basics for a decent humane existence.
    Cally Glew

    Liked by 1 person

  2. last week went to see the Spirit of 45 at the Imax cinema in Bradford. Ken Loachs documentary film weaves together testimony from eye witness accounts with reels of old Movietone news from the post war reconstruction in Britain. Central theme is that we can change the world by working together for communal objectives. Succesful prosecution of the war required a political consensus in defeating fascism nd planning for a peace avoiding return to the grinding poverty nd mass unemployment of 30s. The spirit of 45 expressed in the public ownership of the NHS,mines rail, energy with full employment and welfare services.How wonderful to be building things rather than destroying them. once the film leaves the1940s its focus and message becomes diluted as it drifts into thatcherism and beyond. It fails to develop an optimistic message and ironically reflects the current pessimism. Now the western world is financially and politically bankrupt with institutions of the state in terminal decay.Countries are becoming ungovernable as parties and groups are to weak to resolve. A huge vacuum exists between what is required and what can be achieved. A classical crisis of political leadership has become the dominant feature. A rabid assortment of racists, fascists and mavericks move to fill the space blamming immigrants and ethnic groups. We should focus on solutions to clear out the bankers and repatriate them into proper jobs. These masters of the universe survive only because we feed them. We could then start to make things. Unlike the post war era we have no structures of social movements as the labour party and unions are empty shells and emasculated. Our resistances expressed in disparate and isolated groups.We desperately need to raise the level of political consciousness. the role of culture and ideas has become the crucial task. Overheard on Buttershaw, ” we need Carol Vorderman to run the country, at least she can count “. We have a way to go! The spirit of 45 could make an important contribution if it gets a wider showing. Remember inspiration can come from the most surprising places. David Miliband has resigned as vice chair of Sunderland football club in protest against the fascist viewa and links of their new manager Paolo Di Canio. Milibands parents were politicall refugees from fascism. They would be proud of that his action has ignited an anti fascist campaign uniting war veterans, unoins and anti racist groups. best wishes, michael

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