Award winning filmmaker Ken Loach, who directed 2016’s I, Daniel Blake, has called on co-operators to join the Labour movement.
Mr Loach was one of the keynote speakers at the Co-operative Ways Forward conference in Manchester on 20 January. A keen supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, he talked about the role of co-ops on Labour’s agenda.
“Co-ops embody the ideas of socialism, collective ownership, democratic control and products or services for the common good,” he said. “Clearly, we need a political movement for the long-term success of the co-op economy.”
He added that Mr Corbyn’s policies were consistent with co-operative principles. “They’ve got to go further, I think, to demand utilities should become publicly owned, or co-ops, such green energy co-ops.”
Asked how the co-operative movement could tell their story through films, Mr Loach said films on co-ops or campaigns would have to be a concrete expression of a political idea. “Co-ops embody values of common ownership, equal access, equality, that’s what we have to stress”.
He argued that when telling a story from history the same ideas occur, particularly the idea of revolution, with one side wanting to wait and another wanting to drive change. “The point is for a film to get to that core idea rather than do a detailed account. Basically, the story is the same.”
Alongside greats such as Kes, Cathy Come Home, Riff-Raff and The Navigators, Mr Loach directed Looking for Eric, which features supporter-owned co-operative FC United. He thinks the co-op sector will continue to flourish.
“Clearly the co-op movement is growing – the football club I follow, Bath, is on its way to become a co-op, largely due to the inspiration of FC United,” he said. The club was set up by Manchester United fans as an alternative model of football ownership. Supporters own and manage FC United, a semi-professional football club based in Moston.
Mr Loach also told delegates to work together with the Labour Party and other organisations from the left.
Quoting Gerard Winstanley, whom he described as “one of the earliest proponents of the co-operative movement,” Mr Loach said: “True freedom lies in community in spirit and community in the earthly treasure, that’s what co-ops are about and Labour movement is about. We have a glimmer of light, let’s seize it.”