Scottish socialist broadcast

Tuesday May 22 also saw the party political broadcast of the Scottish Socialist Party. Professionally produced and directed by Peter Mullen, it involved some good acting ? and some good politics. Although the script was quite cryptic in places, the idea of creating a story line to put the message across made a pleasant change from the ?talking heads? approach.

The implicit national narrowness, rampant within the SSP leadership, was, however, notable from the very beginning.

The opening scene had Tommy Sheridan nobly standing in front of the saltire. The camera then zoomed out to show the Scottish parliament in the background, leaving the audience sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for images of Edinburgh castle and a voiceover from the Scottish Tourist Board.

But this is a different - unromantic - kingdom of Scotland. We got a tragedy on a mini-scale. An family is told they have to find ?50 by the end of the day or they are going to be ?cut off?. Our leading male character then proceeds to frantically run around various people to try to borrow some money. In the process there is a little sub-plot where he gets his bike stolen. The bicycle thief sells it on to someone else, who in turn tries to sell it back to the original owner. Echoes of Vittorio De Sica and quite a successful parody of the privatisation of public services.

He resorts to asking an elderly woman (presumably his mother). She only has enough in her meter to last her until pension day. Nothing serious will happen to him and his family she says reassuringly: ?It said so in the Daily Racket.?

In the end our hapless debtor can?t find the money. Bailiff types invade his house, while the wife and children scream. They begin to seal off the windows and doors. The closing scene shows a van driving away with a sign saying something to the effect of ?Scottish National Oxygen? - the point being, next they?ll try to privatise the air that we breathe.

A quibble. Although the film raised the issues of poverty, privatisation, warrant sales, etc, it lacked a clear explanation of why these things exist - ie, the system of capital - and how the working class can defeat it. There was no attempt to portray working class solidarity or a collective solution. It was not aimed at encouraging workers to fight back themselves: more an attempt at scaring people into voting for the SSP.

But then it was a four-minute short ? and even Sergi Eistenstein abandoned work on his film version of Capital.

Sarah McDonald