The Enemy Within and Tony Benn: Will and Testament

  • Film
The Enemy Within and Tony Benn: Will and Testament


Fri, 03/10/2014 - 14:34


Miners and police face off in Still The Enemy Within, a new documentary
Miners and police face off in Still The Enemy Within, a new documentary
02 October, 2014

Directed by Owen Gower

Certificate PG ☆☆

Directed by Skip Kite
Certificate PG ☆☆

IT is 30 years ago that miners across Britain downed tools and manned the picket lines in what became one of the longest strike in British history.

Still The Enemy Within, a new documentary which includes an array of interviews with people who lived through the dispute, revisits the issues and shows that this was more than a union versus government fight over the future of an industry – it was about the Tories trying to break the working classes and kill the trade union movement.

The aptly named Norman Strike, a Durham miner, provides some of the most profound moments.

“This was not talking about politics – this was living politics,” he said.

“Solidarity was something that was not just a word, it was tangible. It meant something to us. It was not a slogan.”

The film starts by setting the scene, with footage of Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill in full flow, and archive news bulletins showing just how the strike was seen through the mainstream media. We hear of how the government stockpiled coal and turned the police into a virtual paramilitary force to take on the NUM. Powerful stuff. 

Meanwhile, Will and Testament is another political film, this time a consideration of the life of Tony Benn.

It was made during the last 18 months of his life, and offers a view into his thoughts and philosophy. He had become an elder statesmen of the Left, but it is worth remembering – as this film does – the work he did as a pilot in the war, a government minister, a thorn in the side of the establishment – and a thorn in the side of the Labour leadership, too. 

It is a personal account: he speaks of his wife Caroline, describing where they met and where he proposed to her.

“She taught me how to live and she taught me how to die – you can’t ask anyone for more than that,” he says.

His words about his mother are equally insightful and poignant. He says she believed “all real questions are moral questions – is something right or is something wrong?”

The film draws on his oratory skills, the history of his family, how he became a politician, the battles he fought, his triumphs and defeats.

It is a record of one of the giants of the 20th century, and makes today’s wannabe politicians look like ignorant, social media-obsessed, illiterate pygmies in comparison. 

It offers lessons for us today. Hearing Benn speak of how his generation rebuilt Britain after 1945 is inspiring. What we would do for conviction politicians of his calibre right now.

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