Fear is changing sides in Spain

Ken Loach and Owen Jones at Podemos rallyHundreds attended a meeting packed to overflowing – mainly young people, many Spanish – in London this weekend to hear a three-way debate between Owen Jones, Ken Loach and leaders of the new Spanish organisation Podemos, which took five seats in the European Parliament in May just three months after being formed. One of the new MEPs, Tania González Peñas, spoke from the platform.

Podemos (“We can!”) was inspired by the radical left force in Greece, Syriza. It grew out of the mass protests in Spain of the last three years, the Indignados movement. It fought the European election campaign on a tiny budget, much of it funded by small online donations. To universal surprise, it polled 1.2 million votes, drawing considerable support from younger voters, running on an anti-austerity programme that was produced in a way very different to the opaque processes used by the traditional party elites. Continue reading

Labour must end a culture, not just a recession

Monday 1 April 2013. Remember that day. With drastic changes in nearly every area of Britain’s Welfare State, you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll engulf the history books of the future.

For a start, legal aid has been slashed. So in addition to the pain that losing your job, going through a divorce, or facing the possibility of deportation brings, thousands of Britain’s most underprivileged will now have the added misery of having to come up with the money for legal representation.

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Now’s no time to ditch Labour

Responsible capitalism.”

It’s a phrase that rolls off the tongue with great ease nowadays. Claimed by Ed Miliband as he attacked “predator” energy companies, media groups and banks, it was seen as a huge Labour success when the term spread across the political spectrum.

At least Labour is no longer “intensely relaxed” about people getting “filthy rich.” But for all the uses of political jargon, sometimes it’s just plain rubbish. Put two contradictory words – “responsible” and “capitalism” – together and create an oxymoron. But say it enough and you might convince yourself. Continue reading

The Spirit of ’45

Ken Loach’s latest film, The Sprit of ’45, is in cinemas from 15 March. A retrospective but with a clear contemporary purpose. Looking back through the enthusiasm and commitment of his interviewees at archive footage about reconstruction and the creation of the welfare state, it nevertheless focusses on the current dismantlement of the NHS and the failure of Labour, so far, to repeat the “promise and passion of the post-war years “.

Cathy Come Home: then and now

Although I’m a child of the 70s, I’ve always had a fascination with the 60s. A strange time of change and experimentation that seems so different from the world we live in. I love the music, fashion and art of the 60s and am inspired by the radical ideas that emerged from this turbulent decade. Proof that you can do things differently if you want to; that the social order isn’t set in stone.

As a fan of all things 60s related, I’d obviously read about Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach and Jeremy Sandford’s iconic film about homelessness. I’d always meant to watch it and noticed someone on Facebook the other day talking about how they’d bought a DVD. So I ordered one myself from tax-dodging Amazon using my Barclays debit card – don’t you just love the contradictions of capitalism!

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