“We have a problem with a rogue trade unionist”
It’s four years since David Cameron stood up at Prime Minister’s question time and said this. In doing so he ignited the catalyst for my explosive, award-winning feature documentary Belonging The Truth Behind the Headlines.
The documentary shines a spotlight on three different industrial disputes over three decades and proves what has long been suspected by many in the trade union movement about how the media, government and big business collude to suppress human rights and democracy. The film also shows what solidarity and belonging to a trade union really means – not least that trade unions are on the right side of history.
Even though each dispute – News International, (Wapping, 1986), Royal Mail (Burslem, 2007) and Ineos (Grangemouth, 2013) – warrants its own film, being in the same film, combined with many reveals on collusion of government with business, brings the long-term political context to the fore. It prompted one audience member to comment: “You’ve proven ‘conspiracy theory is conspiracy fact’.”
The News International and Ineos disputes are arguably the context for political change in Britain and what happened at Burslem represents what was happening not only across Royal Mail as they prepared to privatise, but across businesses, government and media everywhere.
The personal impact is borne out on screen; interwoven with evidence that challenges the accepted narrative. Terry Smith a former News International Compositor explained: “It’s not what is in a newspaper that counts, it’s what’s not in a newspaper that counts”.
The film has been recognised by five film festivals, and recently won Best Documentary at the Cardiff International Film Festival. This recognition is just the start of getting the truth out there – bluntly laying out the wrongs faced by those vilified by their employers, government and media.
I was proud to receive praise from Ken Loach, who said: “We’ve always known it – this film shows it’s true! Governments, press and, yes, the police gang up against the interests of the people. New evidence is here on the screen Make sure you see this film.”
Belonging is screening in cinemas and communities around the UK. Many screenings are organised by trade union branches, community groups and CLPs and have attracted new members as well as raising funds for branches, food-banks and charities. Screening licenses go to costs of the film still to be covered, such as archive footage that needs to be paid before the film can be seen online and music.
- union-news.co.uk editor Tim Lezard joins Morag Livingstone on the panel following a screening of the film in Bristol on Thursday. Hosted by Unite Community South West at Tony Benn House, Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6AY at 6.30pm, the panel, also including Zarria Phillips (Chair of Bristol & Gloucester Unite Community Branch), Bruce Robin (Thompsons Solicitors) and Brett Sparkes (Unite Regional Community Coordinator), will answer questions from the audience. Admission is free.