Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Culture

Ken Loach Wins Palm D’Or with I, Daniel Blake.

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Palme D’or Triumph for the Daniel Blakes of the Whole World. 

Some good news, at last.

Ken Loach has won the Palme d’or at Cannes for I, Daniel Blake.

“Daniel Blake is a 59-year-old joiner in the North-East of England who falls ill and requires state assistance for disability from the Employment and Support Allowance. While he endeavours to overcome the red tape involved in getting this assistance, he meets single mother Katie who, in order to escape a homeless persons’ hostel, must take up residence in a flat 300 miles (480 km) away.”

France 24 reports,

The 79-year-old Briton attacked the “dangerous project of austerity” as he accepted the festival’s top prize from actor Mel Gibson and Mad Max creator George Miller, who headed this year’s jury. “The world we live in is at a dangerous point right now. We are in the grip of a dangerous project of austerity driven by ideas that we call neo-liberalism that have brought us to near catastrophe,” Loach said, adding: “We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible.”

And, he continued, “Necessary”.

Le Monde’s review noted that ‘welfare reform’ forms the heart of the film. That in the UK there is a veritable ‘crusade’ against the disabled, to root out those feigning illness (“la chasse aux tire-au-flanc a pris les allures d’une croisade) in a “néo-victorienne” Britain.

Moi, Daniel Blake n’est pas une satire d’un système absurde. Ken Loach n’est pas un humoriste, c’est un homme en colère, et le parcours de l’ouvrier privé de travail et de ressources est filmé avec une rage d’autant plus impatiente qu’elle est impuissante.

I, Daniel Blake, is not a satire about an absurd system. Ken Loach is not a humourist, he’s full of anger, and the progress a worker without a job, and without assets, is filmed with an indignation that is as exasperated  as it is impotent.

This Blog is not an uncritical admirer of Ken Loach. He is against austerity and for social rights, the cause of the left.  But his more specific politics, which include a lengthy membership of Respect and support for the cultural Boycott of Israel, as well as no known activity against Islamist genociders, or support for the Kurdish people in their fight for dear life against ISIS,  are not always the same as ours.

Nor are all of Loach’s films, for all of their skill and intensity, always as deep as they set out to be.

Of the most recent The Angels’ Share (2012) is amusing but slight tale of Scottish scamps. It is not free, for all its would-be irony, of whatever the Caledonian equivalent of Oirishness is,. The Spirit of ’45 (2013) may seem a strangely uncritical account of the post-war Labour government. Jimmy’s Hall  is a fine story set in the Irish Free state. But it is straining things for this emssage to pass, ” The behaviour of the state’s police is shown and explained to be occurring at a time when Stalin was in full control of the Soviet Union and it is obvious that the state and church are fearful of forces that threaten to destroy them. It is this tension between the ideals of Christianity and the fear of the church and its natural tendency to be reactionary that is the central issue that the film explores.”

It can still be argued that the trio have strong narrative coherence, and, in the case of Jimmy’s Hall, insights into the history of republicans, and the left, in the Irish Free State, and the characters swept up in the struggle for independence, the civil war,  and their fate in in the aftermath, as well as cinematique beauty.

Loach will, nevertheless, be remembered for Poor Cow, Kes, Land and Freedom, and smaller, less technically polished, but robust films such as Raining Stones, Riff Raff and the Navigators, which demonstrate that ‘social realism’ is not always worthy but unwatchable didacticism, and Bread and Roses, which shows politically engaged drama at its best.

That said by tackling head-on the effects of the ‘reform’ of the British Welfare state I, Daniel Blake, hits at a sensitive nerve, and, frankly, righteous indignation is an emotion that’s widely shared about this. Its tale of people pushed from pillar to post,  has been compared to Loach’s exposee of homelessness in the 1966 television play Cathy Come Home ,

The Minister in charge of the system of oppression bearing down on Daniel Blake, Iain Duncan Smith, is now a leading Brexit campaigner.

Appropriately Loach stands on the other side of the European Referendum debate,  the solution is ultimately voting to stay. “we need to “make alliances with other European left movements”.

The film is a worthy successor to last year’s winner, the riveting, Dheepan,directed by Jacques Audiard.

Sivadhasan is a Tamil Tiger soldier during the last days of the Sri Lankan Civil War. After the armed conflict resolves, his side loses and he is forced to move to a refugee camp. There he decides to move to France to take a fresh chance at life. However, in order to secure political asylum, he requires a convincing cover story. He is given the passport of a dead man, Dheepan, and pairs with people he barely knows posing as his family. Along with his supposed wife, Yalini and his supposed 9-year-old daughter, Illayaal, they get on a ship bound for Paris. Upon arrival, he lands a job as a resident caretaker and starts building a new life in a housing project in Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, a northeastern suburb of Paris, which turns out to be another conflict zone for him.

I saw Dheepan only a few weeks ago.

One hopes that Loach’s picture will not take so long to get to our screens.


Written by Andrew Coates

May 23, 2016 at 11:10 am

Charlie Hebdo. Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Review Article.

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 Posthumous Bolt of Light.

Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Les Échappés. 2015.

“This text was completed on the 5th of January 2015, two days before the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo, during which Charb lost his life.”

The Lettre addresses the reader, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam” ………..

“So, dear reader, this letter has been written for you”

Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) would not learn of the response of those he spoke to on the first pages of the Lettre. He was absent after those seeking paradise murdered him, eleven of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, a police officer and four customers of the Vincennes Hyper-Cacher.

In France, and across the world, millions expressed their solidarity and love for Charlie and all the victims of the atrocities. But there remained those who responded according to the 19 ready-made ideas about Islam Charb listed. Liberals and those claiming to stand on the left, marked by every single one of them, were prominent amongst those who contributed to a torrent of abuse whose echoes still resonate.

Mark Maguire, on the Stop the War Coalition’s site, stated that Charlie was “a rather unpleasant French magazine” that published “anti-Islamic cartoons”. Others pitched in. It was ‘Zionist’ and ‘neo-conservative’, with the imprint of former Editor Phillipe Val who is said to have promoted these views. It was – it would be an easy task to cite thousands of articles – ‘Islamophobic’. It was vulgar and racist. It specialised in the pornographic mocking of sacred beliefs, above all of Muslims.

The Weekly, as the Socialist Workers Party template set out, was known for its “provocative and racist attacks on Islam”. Norman Finkelstein tried to create an industry out of this holocaust. He declared that the paper was not satire but “sadism” and compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. An apparently anti-racist alliance, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a special session at their AGM on why “je ne suis pas Charlie.”

This hostility has not died down. ‘Rules’ for satirists appeared – which Charlie had apparently broken. It should have targeted the “powerful.” Will Self judged that satire ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. Literary critics, enforcing these new Aristotlean unities of satirical style – breached no doubt by Rabelais, Hogath’s drawings, and the plebeian Viz comic, not to mention early Soviet anti-religious propaganda – have tried to establish their decree. (1) We could call it ‘satirical realism’. Even cartoonists joined the would-be Zhdanovs of correct caricature. As have authors. Read the rest of this entry »

Hackney, Independent Hipster Republic: New Left Strategy.

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Innovative Hipster Green Transport.

Faced with the meltdown of British politics the left needs new thinking.

As a service to the movement Tendance Coatesy presents extracts from this (leaked) document, which will be discussed as policy by the Left Unity Party and the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) at their forthcoming conferences.

“The success of comrade Alex Salmond in Scotland and the rise of UKIP shows the need for radical changes in left policies.

Drawing on the best social democratic traditions of the SNP, Beppe Grillo (MoVimento Cinque Stelle), and Lyndon LaRouche Left Unity and the LRC must take steps to change, fo’ shizzel.”

“Our programme begins with the Hipster base of the new vanguard of leftward moving masses.”

“Hackney is Amazeballs, totes!”

But what do we have?

Shit, dude, my bad’

The Independent ‘ipster Republic of Hackney – confederated with the Scottish Radical Independence Campaign – aims to change this.

Our borough is a fest burg – free from the control of the Westminster Monarchy and her Labour, Tory and Liberal political elite.

Our policies include:

  • Promoting  reuse: recycled hamsters, lucozade and taurine drinks in gourds.
  • Niche products: bladderwrack steak and absinthe flavoured chips.
  • A new University of Gerry Healy Studies – with no student fees!
  • Free crystal therapy care.
  • Promoting Hipster Hygiene in a new public baths. Though hipsters participate in the no shampoo and no soap movement, most keep clean with olive oil scrapers.
  • Cuneiform – the original writing form destroyed by Orientalists – to be taught in all schools.
  • Promoting ‘ipster enterprise:


How we will we pay for this?

Taking a leaf out of the SNP’s book we plan to offer an attractive package to socially aware and smartly ironic City enterprises to relocate in Hackney with a 20% reduction in all taxes.

Negotiations are underway with Donald Trump to build hipster golf courses on Hackney marshes.

We plan to stand and support no candidates in any elections.

But we will issue the following mordant campaign song,

“Wiv a ladder and some glasses, you can see to ‘ackney marshes, if it wasn’t for the ‘ipsters in-between!”

Suffolk Libraries Face New Crisis as Disinvestment Fails to Deliver.

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Ideal Happy Suffolk Library User.

In 2012 Suffolk LIbraries were taken away from public ownership (‘divested’) and direct control by elected councillors under a hard-right leadership of Suffolk County Council. They were given to an Industrial and Provident Society

Or as they put it,

In the first arrangement of its type in the UK, and after extensive consultation with the people of Suffolk, on Wednesday 1 August 2012, all of Suffolk’s 44 libraries and the mobile, school and prison library services were put under the direct control of the Suffolk’s Libraries IPS Ltd, an independent company registered as a charity.

Suffolk’s Libraries has a long-term contract with Suffolk County Council to ensure the service is delivered to an agreed specification and to work with local community groups to develop locally-focused services at each library.

The county council remains the statutory library authority, and monitors the performance of the library service through a framework that forms part of the contract.

The board of the IPS is currently appointed (that is, nominated, not elected) but will be elected by members of the IPS in late 2013.

These are the members who elected the Board  (essentially Friends of local libraries) and here is the Board.

As a member of the Ipswich Friends, who are on the list, I would be interested to know how this election took place – certainly it would be hard to recall being consulted, let alone presented with a ballot paper.

It would be possible to go further into  this arrangement, whose transparency has been unfavourably compared to the Kremlin’s under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.

Our concern is the future of the libraries.

It would seem that a number of problems have come to a head: Ipswich Library is opening late tomorrow, because a special ‘Staff Meeting’ is taking place.

It is known (I have seen a copy of the, non-public, minutes of the meeting) that part of the Library is to be transferred to a business ‘hub’ of some kind (as if Ipswich needs another one….).

Appropriately commerce will replace part of the Arts section.

In the meantime a large number of books from all over the Central Library are ‘disappearing’ and some books on the shelves are ‘not-recognised’ – about to be withdrawn for sale.

One loyal member of staff say that these volumes have gone to a better, happier, place.

Others, less favourable to management, suggest that the “disappeared” will never  be seen again.

The computer provision, which last year’s annual public report (a rare glimpse into the Provy’s workings) needs upgrading, is in a mess.

Some new terminals are available (though 2 have already broken down) with super, indeed excellent, service, exist (though their censorship filter blocks some left-wing sites).

Some of the old ones still function.

There is a shortage of free computers and great competition to use them – an essential activity for Jobseekers.

But near to them are the dead carcasses of extinct terminals, a sad reminder of former days.

We suspect a funding crisis is in the offing and “profit centres” are seen as the way out.

Note the word “suspect“, not “certain”.

It is said – from the Management – that “nothing has been decided yet” about the libraries’ future.

We have heard that one before: it is no doubt taught in many ‘dealing with a crisis’ master classes for managers.

Tunisian State Detains Rappers for Being Rude about the Police.

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Not to Islamists’ Taste.

More repression by Tunisian Islamist Government.

Alakhabar reports.

Tunisian authorities have detained two people and charged them with insulting security forces in a rap video uploaded to the Internet, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

“The rap video posted on YouTube called ‘Boulicia Kleb’ (The Police are Dogs) has words and gestures that are unethical, abusive and threatening towards security forces and magistrates,” the ministry said.

“A police investigation identified those who made and released the video… there are eight of them. On Sunday, March 10, two of them, a young man and a girl, were arrested,” the ministry added.

The Ben Arous court in Tunis authorized their detention, the ministry said.

Media outlets reported that the two were a cameraman and an actress seen in the clip, adding that the rapper, Weld El 15, was being sought.

Interior ministry spokesman Riahi Adel said the two were arrested for slander and rebelling against officials, and that they could face up to five years in prison.

In the video Weld El 15 is heard saying “I will slit the throat of policemen like sheep,” and “give me a gun, I’ll shoot them.”


According to this report the law under which they are being prosecuted is for ” la calomnie et la rébellion contre les fonctionnaires”, slander and revolt against state employees”.

The Interior Ministry has justified its action by saying that the words of the songs,  « contient des expressions et des gestes contraires à la morale, injurieux et menaçants envers les agents de la sécurité et les magistrats ». They contain expressions and gestures contrary to morality, that are insulting and threatening towards the Police and Magistrates.” (Jeune Afrique).

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Brigitte Bardot to move to Russia to follow Depardieu.

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Bardot to Quit France, a Nation Mourns.

On Europe I this morning and here,

“Famous French actress Brigitte Bardot threatened the French authorities, following her colleague Gerard Depardieu, that she would seek Russian citizenship. Bardot, being an active defender of animals, tries to attract public    attention to the euthanasia of sick elephants in a Lyon circus.”

More here.

Bardot is most famous for her perfect bum, in the film, Le Mépris, and her ability to sing in the same key, again and again,  for her- numerous – Records is an active supporter of the French far-right and animal rights.

Bon débarras!

Written by Andrew Coates

January 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Defend the BBC !

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“The BBC News Service is the worst in the world, except for all the others.”

Old Saying.

The BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy Steve Mitchell have been asked to “step aside” pending the outcome of an internal review (Here).

The fall out from the Newsnight report which led to former Tory treasurer, Lord McAlpine, being wrongly accused of child abuse in north Wales in the 1980s continues.

This is of great importance. The BBC is under attack by the usual quarters. The aim of some of them is not just to discredit the Corporation to hide their own faults (Murdoch) but to pave the way for its break up and privatisation.

There is little to add to comments on the McAlpine scandal.

Except that Michael Crick pointed out in the Observer yesterday that Newsnight had not contacted the former Tory Treasurer to put the allegations to him.

This contrasts with the normal procedures of the programme.

They have an absolutely rock solid and deserved reputation for solid investigation.

For example, earlier this year a Newsnight producer contacted me about a programme they were doing on Work Experience. We spoke for nearly half an hour on the Work Programme in general. Some of my concerns were reflected in the broadcast.

Thousands of other people will have had the same experience.

But the present crisis is not just of the BBC’s own making.

It is being fuelled by the long-standing attitude of political figures towards the BBC.

  • Conservatives have long disliked the Corporation’s ‘liberal’ agenda.  The Tory Cabinet resents the BBC’s refusal to let their opinions define its centre of gravity rightwards. Hysterics like Peter Hitchens blame it for moral decline. There is more mainstream resentment. Ipswich Conservative MP Ben Gummer whined recently when the BBC put his plan to give business people an extra vote and say in local politics on-line.
  • Many on left are hostile to the BBC. Sometimes there is the sweeping claim that it represents ‘Wetsern values’. A more serious (and in my opinion, well-founded) objection is that it that it is biased against anything outside the ‘centre-left’. The coverage of JeanLuc Mélenchon  during the French Presidential election,  was unremittingly hostile. Trade union action, above all strikes, are, as Le Monde has noted, considered in terms of “disruption”. The justice or otherwise of union demands is rarely considered.
  • Politicians of all sides always want to ‘correct’ reports about them and their parties. The Malcoms of this world will say that they respect the right of journalists to report and comment. They, however, just want the ‘facts’ (that is their views) to be given.

Political creatures are naturally news addicts.

Much of what’s cited above are ways of saying, “we want the news we agree with” (I include my own reactions).

Today you can see others news channels.

Not just the respected Channel Four but Sky, Russia Today and Al Jazeera, are available on digital free-view.

Sky is piss-poor and bland. Russia Today is made up of faux ‘anti-globalisation’ reports which are at the limit of any kind of objectivity.

Al Jazeera by contrast is serious. It carries investigations into subjects, such as the discrimination against Egyptian Copts, that confound criticisms of Islamic bias. But is  owned by the Qatari State, in which the unelected Emir holds supreme power.

For these reasons, for all Al Jazeera’s merits there are always bound to be controversies about its coverage. I have yet to see a documentary on the poor conditions for immigrant labour in Qatar.

The BBC faces no such objections.

This,  then, is my, unasked for, opinion.

If anybody fucking thinks that attacking the Corporation is going to be an easy touch know this: many many of us have great respect for the institution and will back its independence to the hilt.