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The Warp

Ken’s Attack on Cathy (2)

Ken returned to his attack on the film that he himself had so ably directed in a book called ‘Loach on Loach’.

‘What’s inadequate is the idea that homelessness is a problem that should be solved by a charity. It boils down to a structural problem within society: Who owns the land? Who owns the building industry? How does housing relate to employment? How do we decide what we produce, where we produce it, under what conditions? And housing fits into that. You can’t abstract housing from the economic pattern. So it is a political issue; the film just didn’t examine it at that level.

‘I think Cathy’s a film about a social situation; it’s not a political film because it doesn’t deal with structure at all – the structure of what makes people homeless.

‘It doesn’t try to explain the cause, and therefore doesn’t deal with politics; it deals with personal tragedy.

The charity he refers to is ‘Shelter’. Shelter, however, never claimed that it could ‘solve’ homelessness. It presented itself as a national campaign or pressure group. And the film certainly does not put across the idea that homelessness is a problem that can be solved by a charity.

One answer to Ken is that it was harder to put solutions in because we might not have agreed among ourselves about what those solutions should be.

Tony and Ken would have inclined to a centralist solution in which the state arranged for more homes to be built and directed people, and jobs, to areas where there was not so much pressure on housing.

I would agree that one solution was for the state to build more homes, in the form of council houses. But I’d also advocate a more anarchist solution in which far fewer obstacles are put in the way of people who wish to create their own homes, as many always did, until the arrival of planning legislation of such severity that it is now almost impossible for people to solve their own housing problem, with their own hands.

My primary aim was to expose a great injustice so that our public would be made aware of the injustice and insist that a solution be found; our lucid exposition of injustice would, I think, have not packed so powerful a punch if we had also weighted it down with solutions that many of our viewers would not have agreed with.


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