According to the blurb "1945 was a pivotal year in British history. The unity that carried Britain through the war allied to the bitter memories of the inter-war years led to a vision of a better society. The spirit of the age was to be our brother's and our sister's keeper. Director Ken Loach has used film from Britain's regional and national archives, alongside sound recordings and contemporary interviews to create a rich political and social narrative. The Spirit of '45 hopes to illuminate and celebrate a period of unprecedented community spirit in the UK, the impact of which endured for many years and which may yet be rediscovered today.1945 was a pivotal year in British history. The unity that carried Britain through the war allied to the bitter memories of the inter-war years led to a vision of a better society. The spirit of the age was to be our brother's and our sister's keeper. Director Ken Loach has used film from Britain's regional and national archives, alongside sound recordings and contemporary interviews to create a rich political and social narrative. The Spirit of '45 hopes to illuminate and celebrate a period of unprecedented community spirit in the UK, the impact of which endured for many years and which may yet be rediscovered today."
The screening on was followed by a live video link to a panel discussion, featuring Ken Loach, Owen Jones (writer, author of Chavs), Dot Gibson (General Secretary, National Pensioners Convention) and chaired by Jeremy Hardy.
Master film-maker Ken Loach has produced a fine work on a topic so vast that will not satisfy the many viewpoints of either the historians of the age or current views on how that landmark election can fit into todays challenges.As E.L.Doctorow said in his "Book of Daniel" an activist is only as good as his analysis , it is to this aspect of the captivating , inspiring documentary that we have to see if there is much in the way to salvage , yet alone direct the mood and determination of the public to withstand the all to visible diminishment of standards of living and services to the ordinary communities.
As the comment on the above video by "Pakistani Cult" states "Preaching to the converted, mate. A film like this should be on prime time television and watched by the biggest audience possible. The thing is that demented notions of 'individual' living is unsustainable. Child care costs too much, young people are unemployed, middle-aged folk are being made redundant, and oldies are succumbing to degenerative diseases. The only way to combat that will be inter-generational living. Community spirit will have to prosper again."
A major , some would say fundamental , miss in the film is the complete absence of the New Labour Years ( 1997-2010) from the record of the film which is not shy to demonise the easily demonised Thatcher years.Whereas Thatcher had a mandate , however distasteful to us , to smash the Trade Unions and initiate the Privatisation Process both individually and collectively , it was New Labour , with a mandated majority to make sure the great institutions created in 45 like the National Health Service and Universal State Funded Education would be so established that it could never be victim to dismantling by future Governments of whatever dogmatic ideology , which systematically failed to repeal any Thatcherite Trade Union Laws whilst allowing privatisation through the back and side doors of the NHS and Further Education that no Conservative Government would have had the courage or strength to undertake.All the while being fully supported by political financial contributions by the very Unions that Labour failed to support whilst in Power.Even now the only certainty is that present Labour Leader Miliband will likely distance himself from any National strike action designed to oppose the cuts , which are mostly cuts the Labour policy makers had planned which the Conservatives have fast-tracked , that seems to be the only difference in the economic approach between the two staunch entrenched neo-liberal parties.
This review from the Guardian does cogently list arguments that bring perspective to over-eulogising of the post war Labour Government.The good thing is the review is contained in the dedicated film website which also has many interactive features and many viewpoints from all across the spectrum.
"The film is right to say that many Labour 1945 voters expressed the view of "never again": they did not want a return to the kind of society that allowed mass unemployment to exist. The vast majority certainly supported the implementation of the 1942 Beveridge report and its promise of cradle-to-the-grave social security. Yet those that liked his suggestion of a National Health Service did so largely because they hoped to personally benefit, far fewer looked on it as an act of redistribution. In any case, the Liberal William Beveridge's scheme was a continuation of progressive Edwardian reforms and it entailed welfare payments only just above subsistence. His was not a socialist measure, but one designed to make capitalism work more effectively."The post screening discussion was highly educational and revealing.Ken Loach argued the The Labour Party is no longer the vehicle to help the bona-fide welfare model , Dot Gibson gave the most sophisticated , nuanced analysis of the panel about the hopes , ultimate short-comings and the extra burden of responsibility of the older members of society to talk and communicate with the youngsters about the initial hopes of the post-war period , to create a broad multi-generational response to the challenging requirements of the age.A charismatic , though seemingly out-of-touch Owen Jones still saw mileage in backing New labour , of which he still is a member, as to the forum to change the direction of society for the better.This link gives a good synopsis of the debate highlights and contributions made.
A look back to the time of 1945 from the long distance advantage of hindsight is that what we saw was a change from the powerful ministries being run by the high elites drawn from the great public schools to a hiatus of powerful ministries being run by those educated by scholarships drawn from the great public schools that came from the middling classes.The gap in upbringing may have been materially different , but the gap in mindset was less wide.
Things today have regressed in that we are back to high elites from the great public schools running our affairs again , whether in Tory or New Labour guise.
The last word goes to Ken Loach who discusses in depth the film and the issues raised.