A few months ago, I posted a short extract from Vanessa Engle’s Lefties documentary series, which seemed to go down well, possibly due to the heady mix of affectation and farce. I watched the third episode again recently and, as it made me laugh and despair in more or less equal measure, I thought I’d share it in full. A Lot of Balls details the comically inept attempt in 1987 to launch a “radical” left wing tabloid, The News on Sunday. The project was, unsurprisingly, a disaster, but what’s interesting is why. Engle’s documentary teases out how staggering incompetence was a direct result of ideological pretension. This is perhaps best illustrated by the scene in which, with the paper’s first edition about to go to press, most of the staff is out of the office on a deafness awareness day.
Statement of intent. “Our truth.” Big Flame. Class consciousness.
Wearing suits. Other people’s money. The proletariat in charge. “Because you’re black.”
An unholy war. Avoiding London. Qualified staff. Black man versus white lesbian.
“No, but…” Pilger’s horror. Dummies and factions. Ad hell.
Indignation. Causes and committees. “Theoretical crap.” Deafness awareness.
Remote concerns. Public sector money. Kinnock and competence. Falling apart.
All three episodes - Property is Theft, Angry Wimmin and A Lot of Balls - can be viewed in full here.
Related: the rise of Thatcherism. (h/t, The Thin Man.)
Subsidise my mischief. It’s for the greater good.