Watch…Jimmy’s Hall (Cornerhouse) Set in Ireland in 1932 the theme of the film is the end of the dream of a republican Ireland. Based on the real story of communist and republican Jimmy Gralton who fought against the British in the War of Independance and then fled Ireland in 1922 after persecution by the new reactionary Irish Free State government. He represents the Ireland of Patrick Pearse and James Connolly , a country run by socialists, not by the Catholic church. When Jimmy returns in 1932 a new government, led by Eamon DeValera, is supposed to bring in a new modern Ireland, but the reality is that the state is still dominated by the church and the forces of the right. Watching it reminds me of Spain in 1936 and the way in which all ideas of personal freedom, free thought and action were crushed by Franco. Jimmy’s defeat reflect the defeat of a generation of Irish socialists and about how they had to live with it and carry into the future the dream of a united and free Ireland. For Jimmy it meant exile to America; for many other socialists it meant coming to Britain and building up the trade union and labour movement in this country and hoping one day that they could return to a socialist, united Ireland. Highly recommended.
Go see… A Land Fit for Heroes; War and the Working Class 1914-1918 at the Peoples History Museum 28 May 2014 – 1 Feb 2015. The establishment in this country are drowning us in reactionery images and programmes about the First World War. They will not tell us about the divisive nature of the war and in particular the movement against militarism and for peace. This exhibition provides a more complex picture than you are going to get through the media. They say; The museum’s current changing exhibition looks at why people supported the war (and those that didn’t), the role that women played in the war effort, how home life was radically changed, the influence the war had on politics and the labour movement and life after the war.
Go to a book launch… The Book of Gaza with Atef Abu Saif and Abdallah Tayeh on Friday, June 6th, 2014, 7:00 pm. It is an anthology by ten Palestinian writers, each writer writing about a different part of the Gaza Strip. Atef is joined by one of the writers, Abdallah Tayeh. Further info see International Anthony Burgess Foundation where there are an interesting mix of cultural events, and, like this event, many are free.
Read...Mariner, Renegade and Castaway; Chris Braithwaite by Christian Hogsbjerg. Chris Braithwaite was born in 1885 in Barbados. He became a leading organiser of colonial seamen in inter-war Britain. As a black trade unionist and political activist his life has been marginalised in accounts of this period. Like Mancunian black activist Len Johnson he played an important role in his own community, representing black seamen and other minorities who faced racism,not just from shipowners and fellow seamen but also from their trade union. How he continued to stay active in politics given the forces against him makes this such a wonderful book. Otherwise its well worth buying and only £4!! Further info see
Find out about Venuzuela…not the World Cup but a documentary, Listen to Venezuela, which examines the effects of the revolution and of radical social change on a country. Made by Mike Wayne and Deirdre O’Neill. Further info see Free at the wonderful Moston Miners.