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TV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?
Pete Mason, Barking Reach Residents Association chair and East London Socialist Party
There's a huge explosion on a building site. Children playing on the poorly guarded site are caught in the blast - dead, injured or trapped in an unsafe building that's collapsing.
In the plush city offices of Kallbridge Developments panic begins. Moments ago the close-knit community was cheering its mayor as he praised the new development. It was his project.
Now they rush to the scene of the accident.
How many times have similar 'accidents' happened? The bosses attempt to deny responsibility. Their greatest advantage is that the victims are unknown to each other. In those circumstances, the most difficult and vital first step is to bring the victims and the local community together.
But here everyone knows each other.
Will the affected be brought together in a democratically run campaign around commonly agreed demands? Not if the mayor has anything to do with it!
He leaves the scene before the dead are brought out. In the absence of genuine leadership, the town spontaneously holds a silent vigil.
This reflects the Grenfell silent vigils, but this is not the best expression of those caught up in that struggle - it was collective anger and a determination to get answers.
The working-class characters are sympathetically drawn. They stand at the barbed-wire fence of the new development, meant to bring 1,000 new jobs to the town, covered in ashes and tears. Some may find this viewing upsetting.
In the fictional Welsh town of Glyngolau, moving scenes capture what so many working-class families have experienced over centuries - and Welsh mining towns perhaps more than anywhere else - family members killed, trapped and devastated by loss, as a result of cost-cutting, profit-driven big corporations putting lives at risk.
I felt the well-drawn collapse of the building very close to home. I live on the Barking Riverside estate in east London. In June, fire ripped through Samuel Garside House there. (See 'Fire tears through Barking flats - cladding off now').
It's now fully reoccupied, but many residents fear it might collapse at any time. Cracks have spread across the building, painted and plastered over by the managing agents.
Our residents' association has a fighting leadership, which is doing what it can to aid the residents' struggle for justice. It will be interesting to see the mayor's pro-capitalist leadership tested under pressure from the company and the rest of the establishment, during the investigation into the causes of the deaths.
Polly Bevan, a local hairdresser and wife of the mayor, angrily confronts a Kallbridge executive who has rushed to the scene. She accuses the company of using shoddy building materials: "And what do you know - that this was done cheap as chips - is that what you know?"
It was true to life. The building manager arriving at the site of our fire had personally assured me that all fire-safety precautions had been put in place.
"I know you!" Polly accuses. Spot on. And it's caught on local TV. Polly's husband responds by violently attacking her at home.
Their toxic relationship will be one focus of the struggle for justice. Will Polly break free as she exposes her husband's role in life-threatening cost-cutting at the development?
Well made, worth watching.
In The Socialist 30 October 2019:
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