Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 December 2020

TV review: Red, White and Blue

Red, W

Red, W   (Click to enlarge)

More than just diversity - we need democratic, working-class control of the police

Deji Olayinka, South East London Socialist Party

The BBC recently aired the film 'Red, White and Blue' from the Steve McQueen mini-series 'Small Axe'. The film is based on the life of Leroy Logan, a biology graduate born and raised in Islington by his Jamaican parents. It follows the start of his mission to join the British police force and fight to change it from the inside.

The opening 20 minutes of the film are filled with problems of the 1980s that are still here today. It starts with Leroy as a young child in school uniform, standing outside of his school, patiently waiting for his father to pick him up from music lessons. As he waits two police officers stop and search him, asking for his instrument bag with the tired excuse of local burglaries by "young black lads like yourself".

One of the most powerful scenes occurs soon after Logan begins his application to the police when his father is brutally attacked by two policemen as he tries to explain that he's parked legally. After being hospitalised, his father faces several false charges including "assaulting an officer".

While those early scenes of racism and harassment by the police are terrible, the racist abuse that Leroy suffers throughout the film, and throughout his career, are truly demoralising and show the extent of his challenge. This ranged from the casual racism of his manager describing his local community as a "jungle", to the direct racist bullying of officers graffitiing "dirty nigger" onto his locker.

John Boyega expertly portrays the anger, frustration and loneliness experienced by black people facing racism at work. And, while today HR departments would claim to protect employees from such harassment, they can't be relied upon to fight racism. Trade union leaders need to take up our demands and lead the fight against racism in the workplace.

The film did well to highlight the difficulties and battles of a young black officer entering a racist police culture, but it had very few scenes documenting the external impact of Leroy's approach to changing the police. Despite being well known and liked by the older adults in his community, he struggled to engage with teenagers on his beat. Because, despite his soft approach, his uniform still represented for many a violent occupying force that oppressed working-class migrant communities.

One scene particularly exposed the historic divorce between the police and the ethnically diverse communities that they are meant to serve. PC Asif Kamali, an Asian officer who had similar hopes to Leroy, was conversing in Urdu to take statements from the victims of a crime. However, his superior officer stopped him and forced them to speak in English, despite the victim not being fluent. As is the case in many workplaces, the dictatorial chain of command stopped him from doing his job effectively. Asif didn't last the whole film, between this and further racist abuse from colleagues, he lost hope that he could change the police and quit soon after.

In the open-ended final scene of the show, as Leroy also questioned whether he could really make a change, he shared with his father that he often thinks "the earth needs to be scorched, replanted, so something good will come of it". In real life, he continued on his mission, and eleven years into his policing career, after the murder of Steven Lawrence and the release of the MacPherson report, Leroy set up the Black Police Association, which has particularly focused on increasing the recruitment and retention of black and ethnic minority police officers.

In a recent interview with Novara Media, Leroy was asked about this government's strategy of "a changed complexion without changing anything about the culture." In the context of the current and the previous Tory black, Asian and minority ethnic home secretaries, Leroy acknowledged how the state "bring in their own token individuals to be the messengers, even though they're more draconian." That's why the Socialist Party fights for representation for communities through local democratic control of the police. We argue for the formation of elected bodies of representatives, from local communities and trade unions, that have the power to appoint and dismiss chief constables and senior officers, and would be responsible for day-to-day policing policies, as well as weeding out any racist elements or fascist sympathisers within the police.

But to totally eradicate racism from society, we would need to end the profit-driven capitalist system that has fostered racism as a tool to divide working people and maintain its rule.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 9 December 2020:


Fund NHS, not Tory crony contracts

Covid vaccines only first step - fight job losses, austerity and 'virus' of capitalism

High street jobs, safety and pay: We have to fight

Super-rich tax evasion costs 34 million nurses worldwide

Luxury for some, poverty for the rest of us

What we think

Should Corbyn stand for London Mayor?

Workplace news

RMT gen sec election - vote for Steve Hedley

Further education workers win pay rise in Wales

HMRC pay talks - PCS needs to organise members now

Reinstate sacked Unite London bus rep Judith Katera

South London council workers vote to strike

International news

Right populism after Trump

Malaysia: Massive capitalist exploitation of migrant workers exposed by Covid pandemic

International news in brief


Engels and the answer to the housing question

Campaigns news

Welsh trades councils rally against the pay-freeze

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Tenants and workers unite to take on landlords

'Oxford, Cut the Rent!' campaign kicks off

York students determined to build for rent refunds and free education

London Socialist Party hits the streets

Readers' opinion

TV review: Red, White and Blue

The Socialist Inbox


Obituary: Roger Priest


Home   |   The Socialist 9 December 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleFilm Review: The White Tiger

triangleFilm Review: Dear Comrades!

triangleTV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain

triangleTV Review: It's a Sin

triangleBook Review: Humankind - Dispelling the myth that humans are too selfish for socialism


triangleTV: The Social Dilemma

triangleTV: Council House Britain

triangleTV: The English Game - how the working class made football the people's game

triangleTV: Once Upon a Time in Iraq


triangleHow you can amplify the Socialist's voice - Help us build subscriptions to the Socialist

triangleTory consultation on home-use abortion pills

trianglePreparing to build a working-class force for May's local elections


triangle1981: New Cross Massacre

triangleSwansea BLM protest against racist police brutality


triangleLatest podcast - How can we fight racism and capitalism today?


triangleCripTales: A painful reflection of a system that pits us against each other


triangleSocialist Party Black and Asian caucus

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



Film Review: The White Tiger



The Socialist Inbox



Tories tout toilet tensions



Pride flag is about unity in struggle


The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox



Film Review: Dear Comrades!


Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party - a student


Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party - a nurse



Starmer ditches Labour movement tradition for cheap trick



The Socialist Inbox



Book that inspired me: God's bits of wood


Hedge funds

GameStop: Billionaires hurt at their own game



The Socialist Inbox



TV Review: It's a Sin



TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021