Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/641/10370

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 October 2010

Review

Made in Dagenham

It is always a surprise when either Hollywood or Britain's film industry makes a sympathetic movie about workers who go on strike. Made in Dagenham is getting a lot of publicity with its story of the Fords women machinists' strike of 1968. LEAH MAUGHAN reviews the film, which is now on general release.

MADE IN Dagenham brings to the screen a story of struggle without resorting to the depressiveness of some previous British films such as Brassed Off or the saccharine comedy of The Full Monty. It emphasises the strike's importance and the heroism of the women workers, though the film has received mixed reviews.

The machinists complained of the film 'sexing up' the dispute. The film obviously needs to make a visual reference to the women's working conditions but having the actors strip to their underwear to work sends the message that the women didn't take their work seriously.

This point is refuted by the strikers after a laid-off worker complains that work is: "Different for the women, they don't have a family to feed, it's all just a bit of fun for you".

This accusation could not be further from the truth. Other scenes show the machinists bravely working on, wearing macks with umbrellas above their workplaces, as the shed roof leaks during their shift.

This was not due to some outburst of Dunkirk spirit but actually happened at Fords where the machinists were then too scared to stop work in case of victimisation.

Bob Hoskins' character, playing the plant trade union convenor, attempts to dispel the myth that women don't really need the money. He describes the hardships of his single mother attempting to make ends meet whilst earning half the wages of her male counterparts.

However, serious financial discomfort is only felt once production is completely stopped and the men are sent home.

The film makers attempted to highlight the dual exploitation of women, in the workplace and home, showing their role as carers both for the young and elderly. Whilst the women's husbands are initially supportive, they begin to complain about the lack of home comforts as the real strikers' husbands did during the three-week strike.

The film ignores the support the women received from other union members at Fords in an attempt to create the atmosphere of one woman battling for what is right. Unlike in the strike, the women don't discuss the strike's tactics - what decisions are taken by vote are made on gut feeling and anger, not through any real debate.

Even the involvement of Rita, the main character in the film and leader of the strike and the machinists, comes from being handpicked by Albert Passingham (the convenor) rather than being voted for by the members.

Barbara Castle

As the then Labour minister Barbara Castle, Miranda Richardson reprises her role as Queenie in Blackadder to snipe and scream her way through the film attacking her comedy assistants. Castle is not portrayed as a particularly sympathetic character.

While she appears to sympathise with the Fords women, her role as a government minister is to get them back to work, only brokering concessions after it becomes clear the women will not be returning to work without them!

The real life Castle's later attacks on the trade unions would herald the beginning of the anti-trade union laws that still hamstring the workers' movement in Britain to this day.

This film makes for enjoyable viewing though it does not try to make any real comment on the workers' movement. The women are portrayed as inspiring which they certainly were and still are! Their struggle, however, is not linked to that of other women in the workplace.

The film makers instead attempt to establish a relationship between Rita and Lisa Hopkins, the middle class wife of the Fords Dagenham public relations officer, who seems to spend her days shopping and haranguing her son's school, all the while bemoaning the fact that her history degree from Cambridge is going to waste.

The film focuses on the individuals not the struggle. It attempts to highlight the women's struggle as for only sexual equality, ignoring the need for workplace equality and the fact that parity pay still has not been reached. In fact the pay gap between men and women is again on the rise, reaching 22% in 2009.

This was underlined by the film's final remarks that Fords is still one of the best places to work in the world, a proclamation met by laughs and jeers in the East London cinema where I saw the film.

Made in Dagenham is likely to be pegged as another Full Monty or Billy Elliot, but the fact that the struggle of ordinary East London women has been immortalised in film is an achievement in itself.

As I left work on Friday to see the film, one of the (low paid) women I work with commented: "You never know, the things we do might change the world."

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 6 October 2010:


Defend Child Benefits

Tories turn clock back


Socialist Students

Students must fight back

Campaigning Socialist Students win support

YFJ and PCS unite against cuts in Leeds


Socialist Party editorial

National Shop Stewards Network and the struggle against Con-Dem attacks

National conference called against cuts in jobs and services


Anti-cuts campaign

No excuses for not fighting cuts

Thousands tell Tories: 'No cuts'

Paying below the minimum

Bristol MPs fail to answer young workers' anger at PCS debate

Meetings and protests against the cuts

Labour councillor's contempt for care centre users

Save Buttercups nursery

Protests on October 23 to fight the government's spending review axe

News in brief


Socialist Party workplace news

Solid strike by Tube workers

Time to strengthen RMT's fighting leadership

Support TSG strike


Health and Safety

Warning: this government could seriously damage your safety


Europe: fighting the cuts

Spain: workers demonstrate their strength

Ireland: a socialist alternative to the crisis

Portuguese workers win the promise of a general strike

Internationalism against austerity: 100,000 demonstrate in Belgium


Socialism 2010

Why you should come to Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010 - a weekend of discussion and debate


International socialist analysis

Chávez wins majority but right-wing gains ground


Socialist Party review

Made in Dagenham


Anti-racism

Nuneaton: community must organise against racism

Leicester: action needed against EDL

Campaign defeats BNP in Stroud


 

Home   |   The Socialist 6 October 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Women:

triangleFighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle

triangleSocialist Party national women's meeting

triangleNottingham 'Reclaim the Night' march highlights cuts

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Women and Revolution

triangleTV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

Dagenham:

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

triangleHomeless due to the housing crisis

triangleTV: No Place to Call Home

triangleBarking and Dagenham Socialist Party: What is Trotskyism?

Strike:

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

triangleSchool staff strike against privatisation

triangleTeachers strike in Sheffield

Fords:

triangleAngry workers protest outside Ford's UK headquarters

triangleVisteon pensioners take solidarity to Fords workers

Britain:

triangleMobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

8/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

8/11/17

Obituary

Obituary: Paul Randall, 1959-2017

8/11/17

Theatre

Welsh update of Chekhov an engrossing tale of 1980s class conflict

1/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Fidel Castro

New musical on life of Castro

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle11 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Campaigning workshop

triangle11 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas Quiz

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2