|Born||Kenneth Charles Loach|
17 June 1936
Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England
|Alma mater||St Peter's College (Oxford)|
English film and television director known for his socially critical directing style and for his socialist ideals.
Ken Loach (born 17 June 1936) is an English film and television director. He is known for his socially critical directing style and for his socialist ideals, which are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as poverty, homelessness (Cathy Come Home, 1966) and labour rights (Riff-Raff, 1991, and The Navigators, 2001).
Ken Loach's film Kes (1969) was voted the seventh greatest British film of the 20th century in a poll by the British Film Institute. Two of his films, The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) and I, Daniel Blake (2016) received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making him the ninth filmmaker to win the prestigious award twice. His latest film The Old Oak (2023) is set in a run-down mining community in County Durham which receives an influx of Syrian refugees.
Sarah Montague and Ken Capulet
On 27 September 2023, Ken Loach was interviewed by Sarah Montague on BBC Radio 4's World at One. The first four minutes of the nine-minute interview (recorded earlier that morning) were devoted to his 2023 film The Old Oak. Sarah Montague then moved to making slurs of antisemitism and asked:
- SM "Are you encouraged by Labour's position on migration? And I ask because you just need to look at the polls with a General Election coming it's very likely that a party of which you were a member for much of your life could be in government next year. And I wonder how you feel about whether they are going to handle the issue of migration any better?"
- KL "I have no confidence in Keir Starmer whatsoever. Everything he says, he rejects a few months later. I don't believe a word the man says. And I don't think other people should either. They move so that they are one millimetre closer to the centre than the Tories. I have no trust in Starmer personally or the clique he represents. Whether they will have a more benign...it's common humanity we're talking about, isn't it? I mean we met the Syrian families to make the film. They had terrible stories to tell. And the idea that we're going to say 'sorry our island is full, turn your boats around'. What kind of people are we dealing with here?"
- SM "You are very dismissive of Keir Starmer but I wonder whether part of that stems from the fact that in your words as you said you were kicked out of the party?"
- KL "Erm, it was like any abusive relationship, to be honest. The Labour Party's whole process of dealing with disagreements is very flawed. I mean it's something I think BBC News should examine more closely. The fact is now Jewish members of the Labour Party are four times more likely to be expelled, than non-Jewish members."
- SM "But it is the Campaign Against Antisemitism that have complained to the BBC about their involvement in one of your other films coming up because they say that you have been appalling in your antisemitic denial because – and that's not why you were kicked out of the party – but because you did not disown those."
- KL "Have you any evidence for that?"
- SM "That was just a quote from the CAA."
- KL "I'm asking for your evidence that you can justify repeating it, because otherwise if you have no evidence you should withdraw it. You're now purveying another misleading, insulting misrepresentation, and I think you have a duty to say well there is some evidence for that. You don't have any. You see we're here to talk about a film, and what happens is this kind of slur is repeated and repeated, and I'm afraid you've just done it again. And I think the way you and the BBC constantly divert serious conversations into this fraudulent campaign in order to discredit people that you choose to interview on another premise, I think that's disgraceful."
- SM "Does it not become relevant if only because of the common humanity that you talked about? We're in a world where people are cancelled because of what they say. And you might say look this is exactly what that is. Somebody else would say no it's because of views that need to be called out. Isn't it all part of the discussion about common humanity?
- KL "This isn't, no, because that's been hammered and hammered and hammered. So let's deal with the fact of the film and why you want to talk to me. And if you want to talk about antisemitism then I suggest you get some of the many Jewish people in the Labour Party and outside who know the facts and what it's about rather better than I do – who is not Jewish – they have written in my support."
Let's have a full transcript
Once the obviously truncated interview was over, Sarah Montague explained that it had in fact gone on "much, much longer":
- SM "Now it is worth explaining that when we recorded that this morning the conversation about whether we should have touched on allegations of antisemitism was much, much longer but as it involved a lot of heat but not much light we edited it down."
- SM "We also asked Labour if Mr Loach was right when he says that Jewish Labour members are four times as likely to be expelled from the party than non-Jewish members. And a spokesperson came back from Labour saying: 'the implication of deliberate targeting made by Mr Loach is completely false, and not based in reality. Indeed it isn't even clear from this quote on what statistically reliable basis Mr Loach is attempting to justify such a claim'."
- SM "Now they didn't actually answer that question then in terms of the numbers."
In 2013, Left Unity was founded by Ken Loach as a left-wing political party in the United Kingdom to replace the Labour Party which, he claimed, had failed to oppose austerity and had shifted towards neoliberalism. Within a year, the party had 2,000 members and 70 branches across Britain.
In the weeks following Jeremy Corbyn's election in September 2015 as Leader of the Labour Party, some 300 Left Unity members, including many prominent leadership figures, resigned and joined the Labour Party. The November 2015 Left Unity Party Conference was dominated by the issue of what to do now that the Labour Party was led by Corbyn, a leader with politics similar to those of Left Unity, but with a mass membership of socialists, compared to Left Unity's then 1,500 members – down from its 2014 peak of 2,000. Many of the motions discussed the possible dissolution of Left Unity as a political party, with party members joining either the Labour Party itself or Momentum. When the Conference decided to remain as a formal political party but not stand in elections, Salman Shaheen, one of Left Unity's prominent National Speakers, resigned. He cited the need for socialists to join the Labour Party.
In the run-up to the 2016 Labour leadership election, individuals who had retweeted Left Unity were accused of supporting rival parties and therefore expelled from the party, thus being unable to vote in the leadership election. Left Unity and others on social media saw this as hypocritical, and led to the rise of the hashtag #LabourPurge on Twitter.
In September 2016, Loach produced a short documentary on Jeremy Corbyn's campaign for reelection as Labour leader because he “wanted to meet longstanding party members who are inspired by Jeremy, members who have rejoined the party and those who have joined Labour for the first time. Over two days travelling to events and meetings with Jeremy, I documented the sense of optimism and hope that explains why so many are ready to fight for the new settlement that Jeremy Corbyn offers - a vision for our country which in government can implement a shift in wealth and power to ordinary people.”
"Bunch of political losers"
For 2017, Labour party strategists were reported to be planning to pitch Jeremy Corbyn as a left-wing populist as they prepared for the possibility of an early General Election and a tricky by-election in the marginal northern seat of Copeland, prompted by the resignation of the Labour MP Jamie Reed.
On 27 December 2016, Ken Loach described Labour MPs who continue to oppose Corbyn as a “bunch of political losers”. In a letter to The Guardian, he criticised MPs unhappy with Corbyn’s leadership, suggesting they should be labelled right-wing rather than moderate:
- “Any disarray or disunity in the party is the responsibility of those MPs. They attack Corbyn and John McDonnell day after day, refusing to promote party policy on jobs, housing, transport or the NHS, the core concerns of those they should represent. They offer no support, in parliament or outside. Worst of all, they show contempt for the hundreds of thousands of new members, mainly Corbyn supporters, who have made Labour the largest political party in Europe. This bunch of political losers are intent on the destruction of a Labour party they cannot control.”
Censored by The Guardian
Ken Loach then tweeted:
In June 2023, Pope Francis told Ken Loach and other artists that they are like “prophets” confronting propaganda, disinformation and the schemes of the powerful, during an invitation-only gathering at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel:
- "Like the biblical prophets, you confront things that at times are uncomfortable; you criticise today’s false myths and new idols, its empty talk, the ploys of consumerism, the schemes of power."
And – not unironically, given the propaganda assault of the self-important Labour and pro-Israel right on Loach for his readiness to speak out against the antisemitism smear scam against Jeremy Corbyn and the left – Pope Francis, known for his outspokenness on the corruption of power and wealth and on the duty to care for the poor and vulnerable, added:
- "The Bible is rich in touches of irony, poking fun at presumptions of self-sufficiency, dishonesty, injustice and cruelty lurking under the guise of power and even at times the sacred."
And the Pontiff rounded off his address by telling Loach and his fellow artists that they are his ‘allies’ in:
- "the defence of human life, social justice, concern for the poor, care for our universal home, universal human fraternity [in an] age of media-driven forms of ideological colonisation and devastating conflicts.
- "The church, too, feels the effects of this. Conflict can act under a false pretence of unity, from which arise divisions, factions and forms of narcissism."
(Un)surprisingly, the meeting has been ignored by the UK ‘mainstream media', but given recent attempts by the right to have anyone shunned who stands with Loach, it might be wise for the Pontiff not to apply for Labour membership any time soon.
Craig Murray tweeted:
- In the last week the Pope has met with both Ken Loach and Stella Assange. Both treated as "outcasts" for their truth telling by UK society, including the official "opposition".
- I think the Pope is trying to tell us something.
A Document by Ken Loach
|Title||Document type||Publication date||Subject(s)||Description|
|Document:‘What about the Israeli army killing unarmed Palestinian civilians’||Article||27 April 2018||"Antisemitism"|
|Ken Loach asked the Belgian prime minister: “Mr Michel is a lawyer, did he wonder about Israel’s failure to comply with international law? Has he asked the question of colonisation of the Palestinian territories? Has he asked the question of unarmed Palestinian civilians killed by the Israeli army? Has he asked the question of refugees living under the protection of the United Nations?"|
|Document:Hostages to wealth and the growing resistance||Article||26 October 2016||Keith Ordinary Guy||The UK government has prostituted itself to the free markets and private interests, and, as with the banking crisis, it is we, the public who get shafted. The least we can do is oppose, resist and expose and be ready for whatever comes next.|
- "I, Daniel Blake: Ken Loach and the scandal of Britain’s benefits system"
- "Ken Loach hits out at Starmer in fiery Radio 4 interview"
- "Sarah Montague in conversation with Ken Loach"
- "New party Left Unity to hold first annual conference"
- "For @UKLabour, RT = Endorsement, Apparently"
- "Watch Ken Loach’s Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leadership Documentary"
- "Corbyn hits back after Obama suggests Labour is disintegrating"
- "The Guardian censor Ken Loach’s letter"
- "Pope tells Loach et al: ‘you’re like a prophet confronting false myths and schemes’"
- "I think the Pope is trying to tell us something"