Beyond Brexit, Corbyn and Johnson: Stoke’s politics of hope | Anywhere but Westminster

‘We want an extension!’ ‘This is what democracy looks like.’ (Cheers) I don’t understand why everyone’s so overjoyed. (Cheering) ‘Give us! Give us!’ It’s a momentary detour. ”Oh, get ready for a people’s vote.’ This is a matter of national interest. I’m feeling very … sort of, um, like,
it’s pretty that all these people here … but it might be the end of something. You make me feel better. What, til Monday? Well, it’s one day at the time, at the moment. Has all of this made you feel differently
about Britain, do you think? In what way? Hmmm. No. I don’t know. Not so much. Even amid all this noise and passion of this demo, for us it had a feeling of sadness. In its own small way,
our mission has been to get people on various sides of national divides to
listen to each other. Three years on from 2016,
that often feels like a vain hope. One of the most insidious pieces
of media are vox pops. That’s what I do all day. It’s important that you and me
hear from people that we didn’t hear from really for 50 years. And that is the BBC vox pops, isn’t it? No, I think they’re crap, vox pops. A lot of people are sick of vox pops, especially it seems,
vox pops from Stoke-on-Trent. And yet that’s where we are on the
morning of so-called Super Saturday waiting for the city to wake up. To be honest we’re full of doubt about
doing this as well. I say, let Brexit happen. Let’s see the difference. Or it will make things even
worse, though? I mean– No, how can it? Well, because all the forecasts
are the economy will tank. It’ll come back. 8% of GDP that we’re gonna lose over 10 years. It’ll come back. What we’re doing is chasing the Brexit
shaggy dog, here again. It’s not good. The story of Stoke is woven
through our experience of the last few years. It was doing vox pops talking
to people right here, that first told us that leave might win. So out this side of the clock … and we’ve got in on that side of the clock. But they can’t propose law.
You’re lying, you’re lying, that’s what you do. The only people who can propose laws … Did you know about the EU referendum
coming up on … ? Yeah, everyone’s voting out,
is what someone told me. You’re definitely voting out then? Without a shadow of doubt. If British Asian people like him
are voting to leave, the remain campaign or the Labour MP
is really in trouble. We followed local MP Ruth Smeeth.
She campaigned passionately for Remain. Off we go. To make the case for Europe. How you gonna vote? Out. Really? Out. Probably leave. I tried. We also accompany them to a pottery
factory where again, most people were voting for Brexit. Apart from the management. How are you voting? Out. How are you voting? Out. Both of you? 15% of what you
make here is sold directly into the EU. We still want to trade with them.
We’re still going to have to have the immigration. It’s not that we haven’t got
legitimate worries, it just isn’t the way that we’re going to fix it. You do that like you’ve been
doing it for 42 years. (Laughs) I don’t want to over-dramatise this
too much, but God some people are angry. That’s the truth. This year that pottery
factory closed. with the loss of nearly 400 jobs. There’s a big dog in a van. I have very powerful memories of coming here. I actually do. And Brexit is not directly
related to why it closed but it kind of helped. The MP we were with that day
has found herself on the wrong end of all of the divisiveness and nastiness
that have become part of politics. Ruth Smeeth is Jewish, a Labour MP,
pro-Brexit, anti-no-deal and female. Blimey, hello.
– Come on in, hello. What’s it been like being you
in the last two years? It’s going really well. Tea for both, yeah? Well, you’re still here. I am still here. – 1040 tea bags. It’s a December election, there’s going to
be a lot of tea drunk to get through it. A lot of women well before retirement
age have decided to leave politics. Yeah.
– Why are you still here? I’m still here because I won’t be
bullied by anybody, ever. I’ve been blessed – as much as the
abuse and stuff that I get, I’ve never had it at home. So up here, it’s always
been my safe space. But something is changing … I mean there was some graffiti
that was by some, I mean, like a 20-foot piece of graffiti
that was parked just by a school, there’s been some screaming in the streets
that has never happened up here before. What did the graffiti at the school say? Boris for England, Smeeth is a nazi. Wow. Something flipped in the last
couple of years about politics generally. That day in 2016 … I knew from the beginning
it was gonna be a tough sell. We were about 10 years too late to have some of those conversations, I think. Because that day in the footage you say ‘I’m very passionate about this’, right? Yeah. And now you’re associated, albeit crassly, with what some people say is the opposite position. We had 73% Leave I represent … In this constituency? In my constituency. My turnout during the referendum was higher than it ever is during a general election. So as far as I was concerned, there were lots of people who don’t usually
participate in the democratic process at all who were seeing if there
was any point in engaging or participating. So I felt like I’d been
set a test for how well I was listening or not. I’ve probably gone up to
everybody by the end of this. So it’s a position of compromise, as you see it, is it? A position of compromise that people still feel like they participate, that they’re
heard, that they’re relevant. I think that the challenge that this has posed
to our democratic norm, to the very fabric of who we are as a country, is something that most people aren’t even recognising yet. Immediately after the referendum, I thought
that somehow some of the right people might come to here, say, and say: ‘Well, we
haven’t paid enough attention. What’s happened here?’ And that seemed to last
about two weeks … – I am not sure we even got two weeks. It never transpired really, did it? No. There is a reason why Stoke-on-Trent
should be talked about all the time and it is
because it embodies um, everything that is brilliant about our country but also,
where we’ve gone wrong. This is made at Dudson’s. God, I am drinking out of a Dudson mug.
Can you see that? It’s very poignant. It’s made me feel quite emotional to be here, actually. That’s maybe the issue of this election, not Boris or Jezza, do
you know what I mean? The issue in this election is, can you maintain even the
merest basic kind of civility? Or will we just go further down
this bloody slope into God knows where? Maybe something else has come to an end
as well, which is the way that we make films and cover politics here and elsewhere.
Because it’s no use anymore just focusing on boarded-up shops and
empty factories in a general sense of frustration and gloom or whatever. That doesn’t tell you anything
about the future. What you really got to do is look for hope and
positive thinking and people trying to make it different. The way places help themselves. it’s what the sort of political debate
in Britain completely lacks. We are still hung up on the idea that we look to
these distant men – it is usually men – to pull the levers on our behalf and make
everything great from two or three hundred miles away. Well, in my opinion,
that doesn’t work anymore, if it ever did. We’re at the home
of Port Vale FC. We’re about to meet the owner. My scarf is iconic. It’s not official merch, is it?
– No. Carol Shanahan is a local tech
entrepreneur and the new owner of Port Vale FC. She’s part of a network of
businesses and volunteers who are collaborating to address
some of the city’s problems. It’s not about judgment and it’s not
about pity, it’s only about love. Children’s services are in crisis in
Stoke and Carol and her partners have decided to try and do something about it. It is communities really saying: ‘I’m not putting up with this.
I’m going to go and do things ourselves.’ So there’s … and this is what we’re
beginning to tap into, is people that want to make a difference but they need
some confidence-building. They’ve got help from a whole range of local
companies to deliver 10,000 meals and play activities to schools and community
centres around the city. It snowballs a bit,
so we have got loads of different groups now, this has opened the doors for
all that kind of stuff happening as well. Are they all ready to go out? What does Stoke need that it hasn’t got? More collaboration. Partnerships
actually coming together and wanting to genuinely
work with these youngsters and make a difference with them opposed to being:
‘OK, we’re all competing against each other’. Do you follow national politics at all? It’s an election in five weeks. (Laughs) Not something I’m looking to get into today. We’ve just seen internal fighting
not just politically but locally. Are you Brexit,
are you a remainer … If you’re Brexit how are you Brexit? You know, whereas what we’re talking about are families and, you know, a city that
actually just wants to get on, it just wants to help itself to get better. When you start to look, that spirit
of working together to find local solutions is everywhere. YMCA has an innovative community-based
approach to helping young people. Everybody, welcome to the
community meal, welcome to the YMCA. (Applause) Because we’ve got kids, jobs, work, and we help
people thrive, don’t we? We can’t do that on our own. We need our partners like Ixion the chef. (Applause) Industry! Industry! KMF make precision metal for
the likes of Costa coffee and are leaders in giving young people good
quality work. So how do you feel, as a successful
business, an industrial business, in a place which – and I’ll do a mea culpa here – which stupid idiots like me would
say, sometimes is post-industrial? Yeah, you drive me mad here. Really? The education system maybe is part of that? Education system and then … you know, we don’t talk about manufacturing schools anymore. Kids are pushed to university still, not apprenticeships. That’s why we start with young people. That’s why our whole focus on
recruitment is young people. Pretty much all the people
we meet here agree that austerity has failed Stoke and the city
needs more money. But they also think post-referendum
politics is failing the city too. Well, have a look down here. That Halloween night, on the latest day
that Britain didn’t leave the EU, what Stoke has to tell us now
became clear. What is it like living here? It’s OK, I like it. This is quite good though, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s fantastic, yeah.
Really good for the families. I like the city, I know it’s got a lot of
problems, but what city hasn’t? I’m really happy to be from Stoke
and proud to be from Stoke, which is nice, and events like this are great, so … Is that part of what’s happened in
the last three years, you’ve had more and more things like this? Yeah, basically, I think people
realised it was necessary. For a decade these films have explored
loss, disillusionment and anger. At the start, we felt people’s resentment wasn’t
being heard, but now anger seems to be at the heart of mainstream politics. Over the last few days, whether the people we’ve met are leavers or remainers or
who they might end up voting for in five weeks, are things that have almost
disappeared into irrelevance. As the election grinds on, all of us have
a lot to learn from them.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. No mention of course of the fact that the EU is the worlds most financially corrupt organisation, as Baroness Ashton revealed in her leaving speech as an EU Commissioner in Dec 2014 when she stated Quote"The MEP's are now STEALING 150 BILLION euros per year, and if this corruption is'nt stopped, this alone will destroy the EU" Unquote !!!

  2. People's Voters are the dumbest and most arrogant people who have ever lived. They revere the EU with all their little hearts but despite their beloved EU actively supporting the government's deal, being prepared to substantially bend to get it done the Cretin Army still wants a people's vote.

  3. This eu mafia club got a lot to answer for, hope it will be done away with in time, Brexit Party is the only Party for Britain and our British people, bring it on.

  4. How is it that the people on the Remain side are predominantly the benefactors of the Thatcher years, attacking the towns and people who lost out under Thatcher?

  5. Unfortunately I have to put up with her as our my mp in Stoke. It hopefully not for long her role is to represent. The democratic process and not her own . Fingers crossed she will be out soon

  6. We should water canon everyone going against the peoples vote of this Nation. Yes people do have a say, but when you lose you keep shut, thats democracy

  7. brexiteers havent got
    second propertys being rented out for record profit.
    property in europe as holiday home or another rental.
    a business using migrant labour for big profit.
    working for or recieving brussels money.

  8. why is the labour candidate concerned about not winning??
    the postal votes will clinch it for all the labour candidates as usual…

  9. 40 plus years of neoliberal lead parties and government… what could possibly go wrong?
    The establishment is by now regretting not introducing proportional representation 20 years ago.
    Did the middle class really think their piss on the poor policy would last forever without a reaction of some kind?
    The continual 'choice' of one neoliberal lead governemnt or another neoliberal lead governemnt or another neoliberal lead governemnt cornered a lot of people into ever increasing poverty. And like ANY cornered animal people lashed out… with brexit.
    Even though it will only crash the pound, as it was funded to do, and drive poverty even deeper and wider spread and leave OUR UK open to speculators and asset strippers from all over the world.

  10. Neither left nor the right got the guts to face the global finance. In fact the very reason why the system upgraded itself from a classically liberal capitalist system to what we have now for the last 40 years, namely the neoliberal system, because the left betrayed its values starting with the shameless Tony Blair who was anything but labour. One example, Tony Blair said on record that during the negotiations his government had the possibility to slow down and accept gradual immigration from the newly joined Eastern European countries but they chose inot to. That is to say they accepted that there should be total free movement. The result is there to see. Native people priced out of the market because employers can choose people from Eastern Europe who would accept low wages. If he was a labour leader looking after the interest of the ordinary working people here he would not have accepted a flooding of the market with cheap labour. Tony Blair and Clinton in the USA sold out to globalisation and to the multinationals, global financiers. When the system cleared the last hurdle they went for the overdrive and now we have neoliberalism. So the so called left leaning parties sold the working people to the ruthless and soulless neoliberal forces. The crash caused by the global financiers and the ensuing austerity decimated the weakest and the most vulnerable people in society. No labour movement no serious syndicates to defend the rights of working people today results in increased bitterness angry mobs waiting for a fight. Blaming the immigrants who themselves are caught up in this like the workers in the UK. The system is rigged it is working for a minority and the majority facing increasing hardship and insecurity. The ecology is a victim too. In fact nothing and nobody can stop the gradual degrading of living conditions and the eventual ecological disasters. It can only get worse. The richest will survive till the last moment but even they will be swept away. Their greed lies and thirst for power and richest will destroy the planet.

  11. what a fat ginger loser, no one in Britain really likes people like him, realistically they never developed friends, so they join newspapers like the guardian were they do "culture of critique" and "critical theory" about how much they hate the UK

  12. Mmmmm! 🤔. Now let me think 🤔 " I suppose you could say it all goes back to when we were told what shape our bananas 🍌 should be". Anyone remember that ?. " You see Mr Guardian reporter, there's something about the nature of Brits, that takes real objection to being pushed around and being told by outsiders what we can and can't do". " Maybe as an island nation we've become very efficient at taking care of ourselves. I like to believe we look after our own, to abandon Northern Ireland 🇮🇪 is a big no no. To watch our fishermen go to the wall, big no non. Shall I go on, or are you getting the picture? The United Kingdom 🇬🇧 will stay independent and sovereign. We could play top trumps everyday with facts and figures, but You! Yes You! have to move around the country, speak to people, and not just your selective few. 🇬🇧👍 ok 👌

  13. It will come back.
    But you get the feeling she has absolutely no idea how that will occur through a lack of passion to explain that to us.
    Blindly arguing for the sake of it.
    Barely any of these people have studied the economic landscape, or the actual EU figures, immigration figures, trade deals current or prospective outside of what they hear from mainstream media outlets or bullshitting politicians with party policies over economic wellbeing..

  14. So the nhs is going to stop tending to white people and men in england in the next couple years one nhs hospital as just started doing it woke england as gone to far now would you like the clip this is why corbyn will not shut up about the nhs

  15. Anyone listening to Jo ‘Swindleson’ has had a frontal lobectomy!The only unifying hope is Labour! Every other things Jo Swinson voted for were pro Tory austerity policies and even one against WASPIt’s pensions, and the NHS where she abstained! Remember she is a yellow Tory taking in lose cannons from smear merchants of the red Tory, and blue homophobic islamophobia Tories! Ffs there is more involved in the UK than only brexit!

  16. The Guardian should stick to investigative written journalism, like how they covered the phone hacking controversy for instance or wiki leaks…..
    The Guardian don't make web/video/TV documentaries.
    John Harris can you please stop.

  17. United Kingdom 🇬🇧 will have a bigger trade of 2 .6 billion and no one tells you what to eat and wear ,or what music 🎶 to listen and besides europe making 60 thousand euros on each migrant and English getting nothing from it

  18. Finally, Jeremy Corbyn came up with a plan. A simple one that even the most simple-minded people ought to comprehend. Negotiate a new deal that takes care of ordinary people and won't cost 70 billion. Then call a referendum that lets the people decide if they want to remain or leave under the new conditions. That is how the first referendum should have been like. How can you vote on something when you only hear three years later what you actually voted on? That wasn't a referendum. It was a gamble

  19. Don’t these people understand what democracy is about. We have had a People’s Vote and we voted to leave the EU. Go and do something useful in your lives and respect democracy! Hope they all get soaked!!

  20. She looks like she's age 15 years she gives £80000 a year plus expenses is she stupid why she go against everybody she be losing her job soon silly girl

  21. Over half of labour’s constituencies voted leave (over 5 million voters), and two thirds of conservative constituencies. London is in a bubble. They do not speak for the United Kingdom.

  22. I grew up in Stoke and it has always returned Labour MPs.
    The film highlighted that the Labour party wants to remain but Labour voters, voted to leave.
    The question raised is do MPs represent their constituents or their political party's?

  23. Funny out the Mayor of London who is spending a huge amount of money provided by the public freezone herself involvement would you respect and talk about horses in favour of the EU anyone is corrupt like his administration has got to favour the criminals along with their selves

  24. Guardian, why don't you advertise the latest poll showing a Labour party voting intention collapse. Nobody wants a terrorist loving, anti semitic Brexit delaying, Marxist so it seems.

  25. The problem is London only wants to hear from London , when you get outside London don't like what they hear

    equalityhumanrights.commission investigations into the labour-party for antisemitism under Corbyn

    The problem with the Labour Party problem is the leadership namely Corbyn and he's cronies

  26. So why did the pottery factory close? What is in store for the supplier of parts for Costa? How does the MP function as a remainer in a leave constituency? This episode is extremely vacuous.

  27. Anyone supporting remain, I want to ask you …. in a general election, if the candidate you voted for doesn't get elected, do you spend 3 years demanding a recount or a revote because those that voted for the candidate who got elected "didn't know what they were voting for"? What if the candidate you voted for got elected, and those who voted for someone else, demanded a recount? Do you see how crazy it is to do these remain protests over a referendum that didn't go the way you wanted? That is not democracy, even if you think you're fighting for democracy, you're actually damaging it by not accepting you lost a vote.

    I'm not asking you to change your mind, I am merely trying to show you how crazy it is to not accept the result of a democratic vote, even if you didn't like the result.

  28. Watch yer 'deaf & dumb' ! They're all 'Stoke-on-Trent' !

    Stoke ; famously miserable cack-hole. One can purchase a two-bedroom house for a pound up there.

    Up yer bum ! Brexitards ! Great terror and tragedy are about to befall you and you so rightly deserve it.

  29. Over 3 years I've came to realise that people don't really have their own opinions. They just repeat anything some politian spouts. What the f is take back control.

  30. They don't know it yet, but leaving the single market will be the greatest political blunder in British history. I wish I was exaggerating

  31. How hard is it to understand that the British don't like the idea of being told what to do by foreign governments?

    Many voters don't care if their lives would be better or worse after brexit, it's about principle.

  32. “Something flipped with politics in the last few years “ ? You don’t say?? I wonder why…and please don’t even try and bring democracy into this.You’r all disgraceful .Vote for the Brexit Party 🇬🇧🇬🇧👏👏

  33. So the hope lies in communities coming together. Too bad that can’t be done on an international scale.


    Remain, you blimey fools.

  34. Lovely people in this but deserve a better MP than Ruth Smeeth who seems to spend all her time trying to smear her party and its leader as being anti-Semitic. Maybe if she concentrated on her community more rather than the State of Israel, she'd be less despised.

  35. Why would working class individuals stay in a Union that trades in cheap labour and enslaving victims of war to a minimum wage whilst red carpeting the few to Cherry pick economies!?! WHY!?

  36. Dyson goes to Malaysia with an EU grant.

    Crown Closures Bournemouth (was Metal Box) gone to Poland with EU grant. Once employed 1,200.

    M&S manufacturing gone to FE with EU loan.

    Hornby Models gone. All toys and models gone from UK with patents all with EU grants.

    Gillette gone to E. Europe with EU grant.

    Texas Instruments Greenock gone to Germany with EU grant.

    Indesit at Bodelwyddan Wales gone with EU grant.
    I could go on at length.

  37. 500 Pottery factories closed since we joined the EU, then the last one closes and the Guardian suggests leaving the EU is the problem.

  38. I was going to comment on the absurdity of most of the statements in this article, but in the end I realised I couldn't find the words that could, perhaps, make such people think more clearly.

  39. I'm just glad women can now work, pay taxes, educate and support themselves. In the past, men were forced via social shaming and law to provide for and protect women. As a man, I'm just glad I'm no longer the legal and financial slave of women and their state pimps.

  40. "Somethings changed in the last 2 years" she says. Yeah, surprisingly, once you decide to get rid of democracy the peasants beneath you dont like it. You cant just do what you want. You cant just ignore a vote and what we order you to do.

    When you destroy democracy, you wont like what is left. Ow I know shes a labour MP so as a socialist she loves the idea of facism. But the people dont. Of course they are angry. They realised that the fundamental pillars of their society, freedom of speech and democracy. Never existed.

  41. Ask the question: Where does the violent incivility emenate from? Ant objective observer will tell you the nastiness comes from the communistic pro EU left wingers.

  42. I love this .."all the forecasts say the economy is going to tank"….forecasted by the same people who told us that the economy was in great shape before the last big financial meltdown.

  43. the CRIMINALS who want to remain and were outvoted 3 years ago have flooded the country with criminals that are going to vote to remain and hey you get to destroy democracy. As a Canadian who's last election was rigged and criminal I see that the was has no legal voting and the votes are not counted. Its a forgone conclusion that voting is now done as a means to decide the will of the people. It's power and criminals that control everything and maybe they always have.

  44. Anyone wonder why Scotland is appalled at the 'choice' made and forced on it by England?

    People voted to leave the EU because Westminster doesn't work.

    We have a party in Scotland that cares – the SNP – something that cant evolve in England because it only has FPTP, and does not have its own parliament.

  45. I like the change in emphasis from anger and disillusionment to hope and love. This is how Westminster will get back on track. More please.

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