Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/835/19766
The People Speak: Democracy is not a spectator sport
Google up The People Speak: Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport and you find a BBC news video. Actor Colin Firth tells a large audience, through playwright Harold Pinter's words, why Tony Blair and George Bush should be in the international criminal court for mass murder!
Firth was inspired by US historian Howard Zinn's documentary project, A People's History of the United States, to develop it for a UK theatre audience in 2010.
The People Speak, by Colin Firth, Anthony Arnove, and David Horspool, now out in paperback, begins with the monk Orderic Vitalis condemning the 'Norman Yoke' of the 1066 Norman Conquest.
It includes a brief, moving account from Edinburgh pensioner Nellie in 1990, who defied the poll tax, in a mass movement led by Militant, forerunner of the Socialist Party. Up to a fifth of Britain's population defied the tax, and Nellie was one of the first organisers of the Gorgie/Dalry anti-Poll Tax Union in a movement which removed hated Prime Minister Thatcher from power.
Nellie's account says, 'I won't be paying my poll tax, no way, even if I had to go to jail'. The 69 year-old details how she had lost all her four children during her hard life, how the pits and the factories had closed. "The poll tax is the final straw."
The epic Liverpool city council struggle of 1983-87 is overlooked, and the great miners' strike of 1984-85 gets only one excerpt, but this is a huge project. The Cable Street battle, the 1888 Matchgirls' strike, the Hand-loom Weavers Lament, an anonymous 'Walthamstow Anti-Slavery' epistle, Engels' Condition of the Working Class in England - this reflects 1,000 voices struggling against injustice.
As Firth says "I hope these voices - socialists, anarchists, agitators, Chartists, suffragists, Lollards or Levellers - serve as a reminder that much of what we feel entitled to today... began as treason."
- The People Speak: Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport £7.99 paperback
In The Socialist 26 November 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party features
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party reviews and readers' comments