British Director Ken Loach on the Seed-Bed for Far Right Politics in Rust-Belt Communities

In “The Old Oak,” which performed in Competition in Cannes, Ken Loach portrays a village within the North-East of England the place the indigenous white group comes into battle with Syrian refugees – a battle fuelled by the despair, deprivation and decline of the rust-belt area. Such circumstances could be a seed-bed for a lot proper teams, the director tells Variety.

Such points haven’t been explored sufficiently in movie and tv, Loach says, and he attracts a parallel with the portrayal of the rise of Nazism in Germany within the mass media.

“We have endless programs about the Second World War, about the horrors of Nazism and fascism, about the racism, about the Holocaust. Quite properly, we have endless programs about that, but what they refuse to point out is that that arose from alienation, anger, feeling cheated, and finding scapegoats. And that’s how we ended up with Hitler, and that’s the ground in which the far right flourishes. One of the points of the film is to say: This is the cause of fascism. This is where it comes from. This is its seed-bed, and it comes as an inevitable consequence of our economic system. Because if the neoliberal agenda was an essential development for capitalism, to use the old-fashioned word, then that’s where fascism comes from. Implicit in that is that the far right will rise because that’s how people will be heading. And they know that and yet the mass media, the press, just turn their backs on that. They’ll tell us all about the horrors of Hitler. Sure. But they won’t tell us how he came to power. And that’s the huge lesson. And we see it in essence now all the time.”

The movie portrays a pub, The Old Oak, its landlord, and patrons in a former mining village devastated following the closure of the native mine, and the failure of the nationwide authorities to supply different employment. The space is now a dumping floor for former prisoners, drawback households from different components of the nation, and refugees, who combat for the restricted sources the native authorities can present.

Dave Turner stars as T.J. Ballantyne in “The Old Oak.”
Courtesy of Sixteen Oak Limited, Why Not Productions

The financial malaise of the realm has led to widespread poverty, and as hope recedes, despair and despair have taken maintain, made worse by a sense of isolation among the many native individuals, in stark distinction with the communal spirit that flourished when the mines have been open.

The grim state of such locations is “a consequence of the politics of the last 40-odd years, since Margaret Thatcher’s arrival,” Loach says. He explains that following World War II, the socialist authorities arrange the “Welfare State,” which offered a security web for working-class individuals, guaranteeing minimal requirements in areas like employment, schooling, well being and welfare. “The destruction of that began in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, and everything was to be returned to the private corporations. So, everything became a source of profit. And it also meant that the work had to change.”

Under the Welfare State individuals had “secure work, almost everyone had a job, they had financial security, they had a home; if they were sick, they would be cared for; they had an eight-hour day; they could balance work and life,” he says.

Ebla Mari performs Yara in “The Old Oak.”
Courtesy of Sixteen Oak Limited, Why Not Productions

But after Thatcher, “all that went, and it was a return to the basic 19th-century [economic model]: Workers are there to be exploited in the best way for big business because their politics is: If big business is successful, we get their taxes, and that’s where we get our public services from. It hasn’t worked like that. And we knew it never would. So now you have these areas, like the North-East, based on steel, gone, based on shipbuilding, gone, based on coal mining, gone, and the mining villages crystallise this destruction. So, rows of shops with the shutters down, no satisfactory work, the gig economy. You’re hired and you’re fired. Paid by the day. Poverty wages. Kids with no future to look forward to, getting into drugs, and God knows what.”

This sorry state is the results of a deliberate coverage on the a part of successive governments to destroy working-class solidarity, within the eyes of the director and his long-time screenwriting companion Paul Laverty. “What has struck us since we began working together over 30 years ago is this is conscious; this isn’t a mistake. This isn’t people stumbling along and not getting things right,” Loach says. “This is a aware determination to destroy these communities as a result of they have been the politically energetic, the politically aware parts in society. Destroy them and await the market to carry work in. Well, the market by no means did. And then refugees; yeah, we’ve acquired to take some however put them the place no person sees, simply depart them there. Of course, towards that, you’ve acquired the outdated custom of the mining business and the mining commerce unions, which is solidarity. So, among the individuals there, acknowledge the human connection, and do what they’ll to welcome [the refugees] with sources that got here solely from the native council. It’s not the federal government, it’s native councils.

“But you’ve got some places where the far right has made inroads with their propaganda. So, there is resistance to these refugees, because you’ve heard it before: They’re taking whatever job we’ve got. They’re taking our services. You go to the doctors, they’re ahead of us in the queue, and no one can understand what they say. They’re in the schools. No one knows what the kids are saying. The teachers aren’t teaching our kids, they are teaching the refugees. And so, of course, resistance builds up, and it chimes with the press that says: We’ve allowed too many people to come into this country. It chimes with the government, who are saying that, and just this week, just yesterday, the Home Secretary, one of the most senior government ministers, is saying we can’t take these refugees. So, they’re blaming the most vulnerable people. So, bringing all this together is what we tried to do.”

One of probably the most placing scenes within the movie is the place the canine owned by the pub landlord, T.J. Ballantyne, is killed by two feral canine belonging to native youths. It echoes the sense that there’s been an nearly deliberate try and set individuals towards one another, by the federal government or by different parts in society, such because the press.

Laverty references the current media furore confronted by sports activities pundit Gary Lineker when he recommended the rhetoric of presidency ministers relating to immigration was much like that utilized in Thirties Germany.

“All you have to do is listen to recent rhetoric. It’s a clear case of scapegoating. I mean, the whole Gary Lineker thing put its finger on it. That was almost like a litmus paper test, wasn’t it? That whole debate arose out of scapegoating. And what’s remarkable really is there are many people on the move. But Britain compared to Europe, it’s laughable. Lebanon: a third of its population are refugees. Germany took over a million Syrians, a million. Great Britain took 20,000 Syrians over five years. It’s a joke. But they still managed to turn this into the great issue of the day, and I think it’s because it divides people. It makes people frightened, and it makes people feel scared. And that’s a political choice to scapegoat.”

He mentions a personality within the movie, Charlie, a buddy of T.J.’s who has fallen on laborious instances and blames the refugees and different marginalized teams for his plight. “I think the Charlie figure was very interesting. In a way, you could have done a more dramatic or melodramatic film by having the far right come in and organize, and put up posters, and beat people up and frighten people, and invade The Old Oak. But it struck us that a far more interesting journey was Charlie’s journey. How do decent people become like that? How did they lose their self-confidence? How did they lose their generosity? How did they lose that capacity to be empathetic? And that’s a very interesting journey. And it’s the story of rotting. The things that make the world civilized are torn away piece by piece, very imperceptibly, and I think that’s what’s happening with many people. I’ve talked to many old miners, and I was astounded at some of their views. But they feel that their life has been destroyed, and so they punch down, instead of looking up and seeing the big picture, and saying, ‘Who’s planning all this?’”

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