« All my best wishes for the Fête de l’Humanité »

London (England), special envoy.

In the United Kingdom, more and more employees have voted in principle to strike in their companies. A way to put pressure to start negotiations on purchasing power and wages, while inflation is reaching record rates and the energy bill is likely to increase by 80% for households. In Sorry We Missed You, produced in 2019, Ken Loach addressed the issue of the uberization of society. His next film, still in the social-historical vein, takes place in a village of former coal miners who never fully recovered from the closure of the mines. New blood is brought by Syrian refugees who are not always well regarded by the population. The future of the last pub in the village, The Old Oak – which should normally give its name to the film – is uncertain. Without sticking directly to current events, the director plunges us once again into a degraded political and social atmosphere. Ken Loach analyzes for us what seems essential to him in the current movement: the political outlet of the actions that are developing.

What do you think of the social movement which is developing in the United Kingdom, through the trade unions but also through the “Enough is enough” campaign?

What is happening now is something that I would call instinctive, a survival reflex in relation to the attacks suffered by employees. But the big question is what is the political ambition of this movement. If it’s a campaign that’s just limited to the Labor Party, then I think it will fail. On the other hand, if this is the first step towards the creation of a movement independent of the Labor Party, with precise political demands based on what is called the Corbyn Manifesto (1), then, yes, there are chance of success. But, again, if what is happening only serves the interests of Labor MPs and if the latter use the movement for their re-election without distancing themselves from their party as it is, I do not see how this could succeed .

Are you surprised by this social revolt which calls into question the primacy of the Labor Party?

No, that doesn’t surprise me. I think if someone seriously raises the flag of the independent labor movement, they could open up another path very quickly. There is a real demand, a hunger even, for real leadership. Unfortunately, at the moment, this does not exist. I believe the tens of thousands of people who supported Jeremy Corbyn are aware of this. But they no longer have a political home.

Liz Truss has just been named prime minister. Will she simply follow in the footsteps of Boris Johnson?

There is still something funny. Boris Johnson is the caricature of the imperialist and racist Winston Churchill. It seems that Liz Truss is the caricature of Margaret Thatcher. She will try to do the same things. But she does not have the intellectual weight of Thatcher! This one was of course an enemy. But Liz Truss is a pale copy of Thatcher, even if she is dangerous, of course. Which I don’t underestimate.

Will your next film capture the current atmosphere of the UK?

I just finished it. We are in the process of editing. Making a film takes time so obviously it won’t be about what’s been going on for several weeks in England and elsewhere. The story is not set in the current political situation precisely, but it reflects a rather broad and long-term political reality.

This weekend is held the Festival of Humanity. Do you have a message for the hundreds of thousands of people who will participate?

First, I would like to express all my support and all my solidarity with this great event that you organize every year. All my wishes of success ! More directly, because it’s a great celebration of the left, it is precisely important that the left remembers and realizes that the social democrats always betray. The left must be the serious left, which must fight for radical changes in the structures of our society, so that the necessary measures for the working class are taken. What is needed is to defend a truly socialist program and avoid sectarianism, the war of tendencies. Bigotry kills us. So, good luck at the Fête de l’Humanité, that the left remains united around a real program for the transformation of our societies.


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