In just 20 seconds on the BBC, Ken Loach nails the ‘absolute contempt’ Tories have for ordinary people

Ken Loach
Ed Sykes

Award-winning film director Ken Loach appeared on the BBC on 29 October. And he summed up “Tory Britain” in just 20 scathing seconds.

“The most squalid conditions”

The BBC‘s Victoria Derbyshire show was reporting on a troubled London housing estate which has only one block of flats left. And it looked in particular at the story of an NHS administrator living there whose family had been bitten by cockroaches. Fellow residents also claim that water seeps into communal areas whenever it rains, causing mould in some flats. Drug users, meanwhile, reportedly enter these communal spaces due to the fact that the security doors don’t work. Although the block of flats will “remain for at least two and a half more years”, the BBC says: “it’s understood the council does not believe it is economical to repair the doors – as the estate is to be knocked down”.

Derbyshire asked Loach to comment on the situation, and he said:

What links this to Grenfell, actually, is the contempt for people who are seen to have no power. Absolute contempt. Doesn’t care if they’re in a fire hazard. Doesn’t care if they live in the most squalid conditions. That’s Tory Britain. It’s disgusting.

Controversial ex-Tory mayor Brian Coleman – a former ally of Boris Johnson – was also on the show. And he seemed to sum up the “absolute contempt” Loach was talking about by saying of the residents:

[The] council owes them nothing at all.

The housing crisis in Tory Britain

Nine years of ideological austerity under Conservative-led governments have resulted in a growing housing crisis and increasingly worrying homelessness statistics. The number of rough sleepers, for example, has risen 165% since 2010; and in 2018, roughly two homeless people reportedly died every day. The disastrous decline of social housing, meanwhile, means taxpayers are giving private landlords money via housing benefits and getting nothing in return.

At the same time, the wealthiest people in Britain continue to make massive profits from property ownership. And rich politicians like current prime minister Boris Johnson have profited from selling off housing that taxpayer money helped to fund. Johnson’s hard-right government of proud Thatcherites, meanwhile, wants even further cuts to public services and the welfare state.

Now, it seems we’re heading into a general election. And it will be a real chance to address the horrific state of Britain’s housing market. Because Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has pledged to build “at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale” by the end of its first term. It has also promised to create a “Department for Housing to focus on tackling the crisis and to ensure housing is about homes for the many, not investment opportunities for the few”.

A recent report showed that Brexit isn’t the priority issue for most low-income voters. And it revealed anger over the insecurity of the private rental sector and a desire for “more council and housing association homes for rent”. If this is the case, the choice for voters come election time will perhaps be clearer than ever before.

Featured image via Twitter – Victoria Derbyshire

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  • Show Comments
    1. We know that. Tories are untrustworthy wankers. No matter how eloquently somebody put it, Ken Loach or whoever, will not make them worse. We already hate them. What we really really need is some real and serious socialist LEADER. I am having my doubt on Corbyn and McDonnell, coincidentally my doubts were confirmed by today tweets from George Galloway. I think I’m not really worried about seeing Corbyn and McDonnell. Maybe they’ll have their comeuppance for not finishing the right wings of the party. Votes for EU nationals? Fucking hell. What kind of genius is that. They are not going to vote for Labour. Much hated LibDems more like it.

    2. Ken Loach is correct.

      Over my life time the Conservative Party has transformed from professing foundations set in decency to a shiftless ‘may the Devil take the hindmost’ collection of opportunists including Johnson and his knavish associates.

      Perhaps traditional Tories in the Shires, people with whom at one time I could identify, still exist. However, they no longer set course for the Conservative Party. Perhaps that merely reflects general societal decline which includes dumbing down education, much responsibility for the latter resting with ‘Old Labour’.

      People living in appalling conditions may be counted upon as voters for Labour, that’s assuming effort is made to get them to polling stations. The challenge facing Labour is to rouse others whose circumstances are much better, including the comparatively affluent, into recognition of the corruption, greed, and hypocrisy, engendered by unchallenged (even by ‘New Labour’) adherence for nigh on forty years to specious doctrine arising from neo-liberalism.

      That is challenge indeed because a huge segment of the population is inured to the current way of doing things and has adapted its values and expectations accordingly. Conventional ‘Old Labour’ preoccupations cut little ice, in fact keep it frozen solid, in a society in which human beings are ‘consumers’ i.e. manipulated play things of the marketing industry and corporate media. Appeal to principle is unlikely to gain many converts; nevertheless everything put forward by Labour ought be traceable back to an ideology promoting the concept of ‘society’ as encompassing mutual interdependence and support.

      Only exhortation to self-interest can persuade the complacent mass into rejecting neo-liberalism. This must be accomplished by showing people who have never known better that their horizons have been severely limited to serve the interests of a clique with deep roots.

      The argument must not be dictated by Conservative bribes over tax cuts and such like. It ought be possible to show that almost everybody could be better off if interests vested in inherited wealth and the idea of huge salaries/bonuses being ‘compensation’ were cut down to size. Even those shorn of unmerited wealth and income would not face penury.

      Attack against neo-liberalism must not be twistable by Conservatives into alleged attack against properly regulated market-economics and a mixed economy. The point being that market-capitalism is moribund; this in part owing to capital having been sequestered by few individuals and markets dominated by huge corporations and conglomerates. It is a state consistent with that anticipated by Marx but that gentleman’s name is best kept out of discussion.

      Proffered solutions should not centre upon alternatives to market-capitalism within a mixed economy but rather upon restoring something that worked adequately, with many imperfections, until insidiously undermined by going off the gold standard in the 70’s and totally wrecked by introduction of neo-liberal doctrine.

      Somehow the message must be clear and simple but not so dumbed down as to switch off attention by the nowadays partially educated component of the population.

    3. The question that will decide whether the Tories extreme right agenda is unleashed is unfortunately whether the people believe Corbyn is the right person to be PM.
      Unfortunately he appears to be Johnson’s biggest asset and could not even agree with his shadow cabinet whether to agree to an election.

    4. Why do the Tories hold the common folk in contempt? Property. Why should property have that effect? Because we have made property the measure of human capacities. We are in the grip of the delusion that property measures human worth. That’s what Trump means when he talks about “losers”. Losers are people without property.
      Adam Smith, yes, that Adam Smith, said the pursuit of personal wealth is a delusion. He was right. We have embraced a delusion and we permit it to dominate our lives. The Tories are the party of the property delusion. They reduce all human values to property values. Hence, those without money are at fault, they are “losers”, there is something wrong with them, they have failed, they are undeserving.
      Virtually everything in our culture props up this delusion. It is truly insane, but it rules our daily life. The challenge we face is enormous.

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