Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spiked: MINERS, GAYS AND THE DEATH OF THE LEFT by Tom Slater

Miners, gays and the death of the left

Pride unwittingly lays bare the post-Eighties crisis of leftism.
You can tell a lot about a film by the trailers which precede it. Going on the Colin Firth, David Tennant and Billy Connolly vehicles that were advertised before Pridelit up the screen, it’s clear Matthew Warchus’ cinematic debut slips nicely into the ‘Radio 4 crowd’ bracket.
Pride tells of the little-known alliance between London gay-rights activists and a small mining town in South Wales. Seeing a parallel between the day-to-day raids on the Soho gay scene and the brutal treatment of miners on the pickets, the swaggering Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) gathers together a group of his friends and starts collecting money to help the miners in their struggle under the banner of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). Connecting with the mining town of Dulais, they quickly forge lasting friendships with the townspeople, sharing solidarity, funds and an insight into each others’ worlds.
It’s a colourful, Boat That Rocked-does-politics puff piece, catering deftly to world-weary lefties who’d rather don a flat-cap – or a dab of eye-liner – and relive the clear-cut left-wing battles of the past than focus on the here and now. All dildo gags and Imelda Staunton serving up fiery, mother-hen putdowns, it’s not without its charms. What’s more, it does offer an intriguing, if slightly Haribo-hued, insight into a time in which the crushing force of the Tory establishment cemented new alliances among the British left.
Joining the ranks of Billy Elliot and Brassed OffPride is one of a strange procession of Brit flicks that seems to suggest the entire miners’ strike was a carefully planned exercise in working-class self-improvement. But instead of ballet or classical music providing a conduit through which the gruff lower orders can learn to lighten up and express themselves, this is a story of overcoming one’s prejudices. The solidarity between LGSM and the miners is presented not as welcome support in a time of intensifying class war, but as an opportunity to grow – to learn from one another.

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