On Saturday, the successful campaign of Islington North MP, Jeremy Corbyn, marked one of the greatest political upsets for decades. While the Labour party elected an extreme left-winger to lead their ‘broad church’, the national newspapers are divided as they either assume the nail is in the Labour coffin (“Leader Nightmare: In the Corbin” says The Sun, “Red and Buried” in The Mail on Sunday, etc) or they exclaim the victory as an inspirational, positive moment in history (“Things can and will change” in Sunday Mirror and “Jeremy Storms to victory” in Morning Star).
Jeremy Corbyn may look like a cross between Gandalf and Obi-wan, but his policies and principles are much more than fantasy. After a hard day in Labour HQ, what will Jezza pop the corn for?
Jeremy Corbyn is an enormous champion for trade unions. His campaign support from UNITE and UNISON show how important he believes communities working together, to demand fair pay and decent working conditions, is crucial to the future. Corbyn would’ve been well aware of the events depicted in Pride too, as his long-standing role as MP in Islington North began in 1983, a year before the British Miner’s strike. In fact, ‘Gay’s the Word’ is only a couple of miles from his constituency. The informative and engaging documentary, Still the Enemy Within, would double-bill with Pride smoothly, providing detailed information behind the strikes that took hold of the nation in 1984.
12 Angry Men
Aside from the 12 Angry MP’s who’ve shuffled to the back benches (Yes, it’s more than twelve, and they’re not all men, but we’ll move swiftly along…), Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men should be moved to the front. Beginning with Henry Fonda’s “Juror #8” as the lone defender of the accused, he manages to win over each the remaining eleven jurors by the time credits roll. Corbyn is passionate about Legal Aid reform, stating in a speech how the “loss of legal aid is loss of right and loss of justice”. I’m sure the challenge of prejudices depicted in the film is the type of considered discussion he would expect of all jurors, lawyers and judges in the country.
Set in Rome after World War II, Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves portrays the brutal connection between crime and poverty. Corbyn argues that we have “draconian benefit sanctions” at the moment with “truly shameful” approaches to getting those back into work. Watching this masterpiece of cinema, you can see a clear connection between unemployment and lawbreaking. Thieves are not merely scum of the streets – they often have drug dependencies, alcohol addiction and the lack of a supportive family. De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves portrays how one man, desperate to do right for his family, is slowly broken down – to the point that his beautiful son has to see his father turn to theft as a final option.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Despite the faux-glorification of DiCaprio’s exceptionally rich banker, The Wolf of Wall Street is a dark tale of the corrupt banking world. Jeremy Corbyn has repeated on numerous occasions how the recession is the fault of the banks – not Labour: “As Corbyn has rightly noted, people did not queue outside Northern Rock branches for three days in September 2007 because Labour was spending too much on teachers and nurses.” writes The Guardian . The grotesque excess depicted in Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated drama is a word to the wise: this will continue if nothing is changed. The final moments say it all – despite a soft prison sentence, Belfort is still rich and now teaching others…
Michael Mann’s follow-up to Heat was fewer guns and heists, and more talks and whistle-blowers. Based on the true story of Jeffrey Wigand revealing all on the tobacco industry to 60 Minutes, this is truly the David taking down the Goliath. Corbyn has argued how “the role of the print media needs to be seriously challenged” in 2008. Giants of the media, including News International (The Sun, The Times, Fox News), are inevitably the type of corporations he’d be keen to take down a peg. The Insider reveals how powerful and influential these enormous companies are and how tough it’ll be to challenge them.
This post was originally published for Flickering Myth in September 2015