10 Days Remaining

Wednesday 26th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

Ken Loach urges Britain to seize historic opportunity and vote for a left Labour

KEN LOACH has urged workers to seize the “historic opportunity” to elect a Labour Party prepared to radically improve the lives of ordinary people.

Speaking at the Scottish TUC’s annual Congress in Aviemore yesterday, the acclaimed film director said that, in Jeremy Corbyn, the movement at last has a Labour leader “who will stand with workers in struggle, as he stood with the steelworkers, the junior doctors and the railway workers — and he is not afraid to declare his solidarity.”

With his eyes on the June 8 general election, he told delegates: “For the first time in my lifetime I can stand and say I support the Labour leader. I think that’s extraordinary,” adding: “We cannot let this chance go by.”

On Labour’s chances in Scotland, the veteran leftwinger said: “It was a different Labour Party that lost Scotland: the Labour Party of Blair, Brown and Mandelson. This Labour Party is 180 degrees different.”

He accused the Tories of “imposing a policy of conscious cruelty” via Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit sanctions and work capability assessments and warned that they were “too wicked to be let back into government.”

Speaking about the subject matter of his recent hit film I, Daniel Blake, Mr Loach said there was a “programme of systematic punishment by the DWP” forcing people into low-paid, insecure work through fear.

He said that time and time again he had heard first-hand accounts of people being sanctioned and left starving because they had missed appointments due to family funerals and emergency hospital appointments.

The two-time Palme d’Or winner asked: “What is the crime for which hunger is the punishment?”

He praised Labour’s plans to cancel work capability assessments and change the sanctions regime but said that these were not policies that had been widely reported in the media.

Mr Loach warned that halting the rise of the far right across Europe was the “biggest challenge faced by the left in my lifetime.”

He asked: “Why should we be surprised at the rise of the right when governments have created a great pool of people who feel alienated, dispossessed and as though they have no future?”

Although a Remain voter, Mr Loach warned that the EU was “an organisation for big corporations where profits are prioritised over workers rights,” citing the example of the posted workers directive.

Under this directive, workers are transferred temporarily to another country but fail to enjoy its working protections, for instance the minimum wage, thereby undercutting their pay in the host nation.

He added: “We need a new Europe based on working people’s interests, where workers aren’t leaving their countries bereft of skills so they can come and serve coffee over here.”