'Peterloo's about the past '“ and the present'
I would urge readers to see the film Peterloo by director Mike Leigh.
It tells the story of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, which was a watershed in British political history. The Yeomanry Cavalry rode into thousands of unarmed protesters in St Peter’s Field, Manchester, killing 18 and injuring 653. The journalists present, at what was then the biggest demonstration ever seen in England, called the event Peterloo to echo the battle of Waterloo, where four years earlier British forces had won a famous victory against Napoleon. Peterloo was the culmination of a revolt against the mill owners, magistrates and Tory government of the day, who were determined to maintain the oppression of the new emerging working class.Almost half the population of Manchester, along with thousands from the cotton towns and villages, descended on St Peter’s Field in a peaceful demonstration against cuts in wages, unemployment and increased poverty. The huge crowd’s central demand was political reform and the right to vote. The massacre was a severe blow to the emerging working class movement but it did not stop the thirst for political reform. The Chartists, Britain’s biggest ever mass movement, were to continue the fight.It is a fitting tribute to those who died almost 200 years ago in Manchester, that Mike Leigh’s film is so historically accurate. In the film, Leigh shows the ruthlessness of the ruling elite and also the potential for radical change when working class people act collectively. It is not simply a film about the past. It resonates with today’s realities for millions of working class people – food banks, growing inequality, zero hours contracts, crumbling public services and draconian welfare reform. If we are to build a future out of the wreckage of neo-liberal economics and Tory austerity and create a better society based on fairness, equality and social justice then, in the age of Corbyn, we not only need political representation which acts in the interests of the many and not the few, but also a social movement rooted in the spirit of St Peter’s Field.Mick MulcahyAddress suppliedNHS crisis is all-year roundLast month, emergency admissions hit a record high while the number of patients waiting more than four hours to be seen was almost 10 per cent higher than last year.These statistics represent what happened in hospitals during a relatively mild autumn before the added pressure associated with much colder weather hits.This is further evidence of what the BMA has been saying for some time – we are no longer experiencing just a winter crisis in the NHS, it is now a truly year-round crisis. Analysis we released this month showed A&Es performed as badly this summer as four of eight recent winters.Hospitals and healthcare providers cannot afford to assume that measures to reduce admissions will be enough to beat this year’s winter pressures when the figures show that demand for services is increasing at a rate far higher than many had anticipated.While the Government is due to announce its Â£20bn spending plan for the NHS, it is unlikely to meet the immediate needs of patients this winter, and if not invested appropriately will fail to address the worrying scenes unfolding in our hospital corridors and GP practices all year.Dr Rob HarwoodBritish Medical Association consultants committee chairMind-boggling Forces policyWhat kind of economics is it to sack professional soldiers that came home with lots of experience from the Gulf wars and now they find that they can’t get new recruits?The British public appreciated what they have done and gone through for us, but the Government paid lip service to them (saying what a great job they had done) and then proceeded to sack many of them.They jailed a soldier for doing something that must be expected in war.Now they complain they can’t get new recruits. I wonder why?Dave CroucherName and address suppliedWe don’t want Cameron backHow arrogant is David Cameron? He’ll be remembered for two things: appalling weakness when trying to renegotiate our terms with the EU, and then running away when he lost the referendum vote. We certainly don’t need any more weakness in the Government, which is letting those who voted Brexit down. May I suggest Cameron starts a new party with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to see how popular he is. Or he should stay in his garden shed.Derrick BondName and address suppliedBonfire Night is just one dayNow austerity is said to be over, I wondered if Philip Hammond could spare a few bob and supply each household with a yearly calendar.Given firework displays are occurring on various nights, it seems a percentage of the population are not aware that Guy Fawkes Night is November 5.Albert CringeName and address supplied