Thursday, January 03, 2008

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Political Big Brother

AWL apparatchik, Mark O, always insisted that Ken Loach had a major political crush on Alan Thornett (if Loach had ever adapted Jack London's 'Iron Heel' for the big screen, I'm guessing that Thornett would have been his Ernest Everhard), and up pops a love letter in 'The great and the good 2007' article in the Independent on Sunday's Review section that suggests that Mark O. might have had a point.

The rebel: Ken Loach on Alan Thornett

Ken Loach, 71, is a film-maker. Alan Thornett, 70, is a left-wing political activist, journalist and writer

"I met Alan in the 1960s at political meetings; he stands for those many people who struggle to keep the idea alive that society can be organised in another way socially, industrially and politically. He was a senior steward at the Cowley car plant through the 1970s, and like many union members, didn't think his union leadership represented the workers' interests. He was victimised for his views and subsequently lost his job.

He wrote about that period and has this ability to be clear and articulate on the issues he cares about. He contributed to a documentary series I worked on in the 1980s called Questions of Leadership, about the willingness of rank-and-file union members to take on the government. It was never broadcast because it was deemed, wrongly, to be defamatory.

Since then Alan has been speaking and writing really persuasively in left-wing newspapers. There's a whole other world that runs parallel to the mass media, a real political alternative, and Alan is prominent in that world; he is also senior in the Respect Renewal party. Alan has battled illness over the past few years, yet he is finding renewed energy in his work as a Marxist and a Socialist. Mike Higgins

Loach met Thornett "in the 1960s at political meetings"? Christ, that means that Loach was in all probability part of the luvvie brigade of the Socialist Labour League during that period. What with his long working relationship with the late Jim Allen, I guess it makes sense but it's still depressing to read. Anybody who tries to tell you that an organisation led by Gerry Healy was still a viable and healthy political option in the sixties is kidding themselves on. It was warped from the get go. Have a flick through the autobiographies of Harry Ratner or Bill Hunter or Brian Behan if you don't believe me.

Hat tip to Liam Mac Uaid.

1 comment:

Paul Anderson said...

Loach was an SLLer in the 1960s, and it would be very interesting to ask him what he thinks about Healy. I don't remember whether Loach was (like Terry Eagleton) a Thornettite in the 1970s Workers Socialist League, but hunch tells me he was...