The Kirkby Rent Strike (1974 Documentary) made by Nick Broomfield. This is an in your face film showing the anger felt and not often expressed by working class people. It begins with a woman speaking to the camera and reminding the viewers that the media will not make any difference to her life or those of her community. She says, and the film goes on to show how, it’s only working class people who can change their lives. It could have been made today. How many books, articles, documentaries have been written or made by the middle classes about the austerity in the last 4 years? Yet the reality is still the same for increasing numbers of working class people falling into the growing chasm of poverty and despair.
This film is about the response of the Tower Hill Estate in Kirkby in Liverpool, when the government imposes a £1 rent rise. Three thousand of the tenants went on a 14 month long rent strike, some even went to prison. The women were at the centre of the Unfair Rents Action Group and we see them speaking about their lives, the lack of hope for their children in the local education system and the grind of working in local factories. But it is a film that gives you hope as you watch the tenants organising the campaign, occupying the local council offices and demonstrating outside the prison when the bailiffs arrest one of the campaign group. Wonder if Jim Allen watched it and decided to write “United Kingdom”?
Go see some radical theatre
…in short supply in these angry times. “Committed” written by Irish playwright Stephen L.Smith at the Lantern Theatre in Liverpool. Set in Northern Ireland in 1993 just before the IRA ceasefire ex-prisoner Dan McCrory is sent to a small catholic enclave, which has been plagued by petty crime. His mission is to establish a “Concerned Residents Committee”, and the ground for an election campaign, which will follow the cease-fire, which he knows, is imminent. While carrying out the punishment of a local “Hood”, however, he finds out something he’d rather not know, something that throws a shadow over his whole future. This play was seen as too radical by the West Belfast Festival which is a sad reflection on present day life in a republican community. Made sadder by the fact that Stephen was a political and community activist in Ireland for 30 years so he knows what he is writing about. Make your own mind up see
Common People, the History of an English family by Alison Light. Not just the story of one family but a well-written social history of the way in which ordinary people travelled across this country (and overseas) in search of work, homes and family. I love this book because I knew little about the lives of people who come from the south of England and it is a fascinating insight into the trades of needlemakers, paper sorters, sailors and bricklayers. Family history has never been so popular but Alison has set a high standard for those of us who might consider following in her footsteps. It is expensive, £20, so get it from your local library…if you still have one.
Join the picket to defend the right to protest
….in March 2010 at an anti-EDL demonstration in Bolton several people were punched by the police, which was filmed by Granada Television, The footage shows Alan Clough, aged 63, standing with his arms crossed in front of him, when he is apparently struck by an officer with a baton. It also shows other protesters being hit by other officers and Alan pushed and pulled to the ground in the crowd. Alan was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at the EDL and UAF rally in March. But when his defence team obtained the footage, which can be viewed on The Bolton News website, the CPS decided to drop the case. On 10th November at 9.00am at Greater Manchester Police(GMP) Headquarters, justice4bolton will lobby outside when Officer Cantrell from the Tactical AID Unit will, finally, be disciplined for his “punch”. Further details of the campaign see
Listen to some local choirs at Manchester Museum…
be Wonderstruck.… Come and hear the sound of a hundred voices as choirs and performers from across Manchester join forces at Manchester Museum. Inspired by awe and wonder at the Museum’s collections, writer/performer Daniel Bye, musician Boff Whalley and director Sarah Punshon have created original songs for a weekend of musical surprises. Performances will begin at 11am and 1.30pm on 15 and 16 November in the Museum reception area. You could follow the performers and experience the whole 70 minute cycle, or simply enjoy encountering musical surprises as you explore the Museum. Further info see