Terry Fields and the History of the Militant in Liverpool (1992): Documentary and Reviews

The Militant was the forerunner of the Socialist Party: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk

Review published in The Militant: “A Glimpse of the Truth – For Once” (November 6, 1992)

By Corinne Dowd

Channel Four’s Cutting Edge, to be shown on Monday 9 November [1992] at 9pm, is the first TV documentary about Militant which has not been a hatchet-job.

It’s a good resume of Militant which will warm the hearts of the most down-trodden in our society. In my view it ranks with John Pilger’s brilliant, but isolated, appraisal of what Tommy Sheridan stands for.

The programme features and interviews Militant supporters and even their parents. The Labour MP Jane Kennedy, who took the Broadgreen constituency seat from Terry Fields at the last general election and the local ‘moderate’ Labour Party member Frank Dunne also feature.

The programme begins with Militant’s role in the anti-poll tax campaign and follows bailiff-busters in action defending working-class people. Alongside this we see Frank Dunne not defending the working class but wasting his time spying on Militant sellers in order to expel them.

He goes to considerable lengths to do this. We see him sneaking around corners to photograph people selling Militant. He’s like a crazy character out of a wacky Peter Sellars film who appears obsessed with Militant.

Those Militant comrades who took part in this programme ought to be congratulated. Not just for their contribution to the film but for the everyday work they were doing while the film was being made.

The film shows how Militant councillors got a pregnant woman rehoused as both warming and inspiring. Militant is accused by Jane Kennedy and Frank Dunne of being against cuts in jobs services (how awful!) and of saying things that will appeal to the downtrodden.

They mean to suggest that Militants use empty phraseology to trick people into supporting us. Jane Kennedy comes across as very condescending: she seems to suggest that politics should be left to experts like herself.

This programme shows Militant is not about empty talk but about getting things done. The comrades come across as hard working, caring and sensible people who believe in what they are fighting for and who have firm roots in the Broadgreen working class.

It ends on a good note, showing Terry Fields’ election party. Despite not winning the seat, comrades are celebrating the 6,000 votes for our stand for socialism by giving Terry Fields a rapturous reception of We’ll support you evermore and The Internationale.


Letter to the The Militant: “I Thought it was Disappointing” (November 20, 1992)

By Bill Graham

I was very disappointed. The headline of Militant’s preview of the programme said: “A glimpse of the truth for once” and it was exactly that – a superficial glimpse of what Militant stands for.

How on earth could they omit the fact that Terry Fields not only opposed and organised against the poll tax but was the only MP to serve two months in prison in in solidarity with those millions who couldn’t afford to pay?

What about the workers’ movement of general-strike proportions between 1984 and 1985 in support of a city council that forced a U-turn from the Thatcher government?

By isolating the documentary to Liverpool they conveniently ignored the tremendous campaign of Dave Nellist and the brilliant victory of Tommy Sheridan, the only councillor in Britain to be elected while serving six for opposing warrant sales and defending the poor.

The subsequent victories of another five Militant councillors in Glasgow, which has stunned the ‘Jane Kennedys’ of the Labour Party, also went unannounced.


One comment

  1. Seen this brilliant documentary a couple of times, and this is a great analysis. I do have to say to say Jane Kennedy is a bit condescending is far to kind to her! The bit where she is talking about Militants tactics always makes me laugh as when she stops herself mid-sentence you can tell shes about two seconds from calling the working-class stupid! Watching this documentary in relation to the televised debate between Peter Taaffe, Tony Mulhearn and two labour MPs from a few years earlier is worthwhile as it shows the complete capitulation of the labour right-wing to the Kinnock and the NC’s demands. The two videos book-end the machination of the party into the bosses party we saw under Blair and Brown.

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