Ken Loach: The need for a Left alternative

Posted on: 05/02/2015

Ken Loach 8We interviewed acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach (Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley) in the small attic office of his production company Sixteen Films. We discussed Left Unity, the new political party of the left that he supports.

The interests and struggles of the working classes has been a theme throughout all of Loach’s films. He spoke eloquently about the current political system driving inequality, increasing poverty and mentioned that it is, “exploiting the working classes by turning labour off and on like a tap”. Left Unity was formed as an attempt to address these inequalities and create a fairer society providing security in terms of housing, jobs and pensions.

The Labour Party was originally formed by Trade Unions to protect the interests of the workers. Loach’s documentary The Spirit of ’45 subtly illustrates how far the Labour Party’s ideology has shifted to the right since 1945. Loach stresses that Labour now represents the interests of capitalism and never restored the rights of Trade Unions that Thatcher took away. He spoke of the main political parties representing the interests of the wealthiest 1% as opposed to the other 99%.

David Cameron’s planned austerity cuts remain a divisive election topic, with Loach describing the whole concept as a “fraud”. He went on to describe this as a “program to help capitalism make more profits” and mentioned that the bankers who caused the crisis still receive bonuses. Introducing benefits caps and reducing the welfare system seems to target the poorest and most vulnerable people in the UK. Left Unity aim to address the fundamental problem with the current system and introduce an economic system, which effectively uses labour power to create a more sustainable and equal society.

Immigration remains another contentious election issue, with UKIP blaming migrants for unemployment, housing issues and even traffic on the M4. The Spirit of 1945 illustrated the UK’s mass unemployment in the 1930’s with 3 million unemployed. This was at a time before the current levels of immigration. Loach says this issue is a “red herring” and the focus should be on establishing equality amongst the world economies instead of “scapegoating migrants and ignoring the real issues”. For instance, tax evasion has cost the UK economy £119bn between 2013-2014, according to Tax Research LLP.

Another issue surrounding the Government’s link to big business is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This is a series of trade negotiations carried out between the EU and the US, which serves to loosen regulatory barriers for big business and banking. This could also further empower big business to affect Governmental policy. It aims to introduce Investor-State Dispute Settlements, which would allow companies to sue the Government if their policies cause a loss of profits. Loach calls the TTIP “a disaster for working people and the planet as a whole”.

Loach spoke passionately of the need to plan employment and a social infrastructure for housing to create a sustainable community. He seems to have a point saying that the market has proved unable to do this so far. Left Unity is, in his words “an honest attempt to create a democratic party of the left to offer a socialist alternative to address society’s issues.”

The full interview will be broadcast online soon as part of our election coverage. We also recently interviewed Ed Davey, Energy & Climate Change Secretary of State.

Please share this post and comment with your opinion below or tweet them to us.

Written by Martin Stocks | @Stocks1986