Salman Shaheen speaks to Ken Loach about the director’s hopes for founding a new party to the left of Labour, and what it can learn from new media and the social movements that have built up around it.
When I meet Loach at Sixteen Films’ office, a creaky old building on Wardour Street with Lilliputian wooden-beamed ceilings and warm white walls studded with posters of past glories from the director’s distinguished career, he is happy to sit still for twenty minutes. But behind his measured, methodical speech, that energy and passion remain. For Loach is helping to found a new political party – leftunity in answer to the political vacuum that has existed in Britain for decades.
“When Blair took over and won Labour’s first election with the slogan ‘Labour means business’, some thought at the time this means they’re going to roll up their sleeves and get to work,” Loach says. “Actually it means Labour means big business. Which means the working class have no political representation.”
The absence of a strong voice on the left became particularly problematic when a Labour government marched politically unopposed into Iraq, despite the majority of the country standing opposed to the war.
Loach believes the Greens are alone among the political parties in not standing up for the interests of big business. As far as he is concerned, the Green Party has many good qualities, but he does not see it as a party of the organised working class, and that is what he wants to help build in Left Unity.
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