Wednesday, 25 May 2016

50 years since Cathy Come Home and we still need Ken Loach.

British director Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake has won the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival.

I, Daniel Blake, which stars stand-up comedian Dave Johns in the title role, was written by long-time Loach collaborator Paul Laverty.

It documents what happens when an older man living in Newcastle has a heart attack and can no longer do his job.

He is declared fit for work, meaning his benefits are stopped, and he begins to go hungry.

Accepting the festival's top prize from actor Mel Gibson, Loach said:

"We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible."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."

Amazingly it is 50 years since Loach directed Cathy Come Home
" a play tells the story of a young couple, Cathy (played by Carol White) and Reg (Ray Brooks). Initially their relationship flourishes; they have a child and move into a modern home. When Reg is injured and loses his job, they are evicted by bailiffs, and they face a life of poverty and unemployment, illegally squatting in empty houses and staying in shelters for the homeless. Finally, Cathy has her children taken away by social services.
The play broached issues that were not then widely discussed in the popular media, such as homelessness, unemployment and the rights of mothers to keep their own children. It was watched by 12 million people – a quarter of the British population at the time – on its first broadcast. Its hard-hitting subject matter and highly realistic documentary style, new to British television, created a huge impact on its commentator called it "an ice-pick in the brain of all who saw it". The play produced a storm of phone calls to the BBC, and discussion in Parliament. For years afterwards Carol White was stopped in the street by people pressing money into her hand, convinced she must be actually homeless.

In the light of public reaction to the film, and following a publicity campaign led by Willam Shearman and Ian Macleod highlighting the plight of the homeless, the charity Crisis was formed the following year in 1967.
By coincidence, another charity for the homeless Shelter was launched a few days after the first broadcast. Though it was not connected to the programme, "the film alerted the public, the media, and the government to the scale of the housing crisis, and Shelter gained many new supporters."
However, Ken Loach has said that despite the public outcry following the play, it had little practical effect in reducing homelessness other than changing rules so that homeless fathers could stay with their wives and children in hostels".

The difference today  we have a Media that often reports those on Benefits as scroungers and in the worst possible light .

Indeed at times there seems to a deliberate collaboration between the Media including the BBC and Channel 4 and the Department of  Work and Pensions,  with programmes Benefit Street in which  Channel 4 was accused of making poverty porn. Many of those taking part claimed that they were misled by the documentary makers. Ofcom launched an investigation into whether the programme had breached the broadcasting regulations, but ultimately concluded its rules had not been broken.

So I, Daniel Blake, will probably not have the effect on the Pubic conscious  that Cathy Come Home has 50 years did .

Indeed fuelled with a Media that seems determined to attack modern day Cathys and challenge a system that seems to be in reverse rather than making changes for the better.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, that there’s was so little reporting of Ken Loach's win a Cannes in the UK press was telling enough, but worse in that a majority can’t see any alternative to the crap situation were in.

    Will people ever wake up to political alternatives, I’m not sure anymore.