Lefties Revisited

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. 


Part 1:

Statement of intent. “Our truth.” Big Flame. Class consciousness.

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Part 2:

Wearing suits. Other people’s money. The proletariat in charge. “Because you’re black.”

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Part 3:

An unholy war. Avoiding London. Qualified staff. Black man versus white lesbian.

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Part 4:

“No, but…” Pilger’s horror. Dummies and factions. Ad hell.

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Part 5:

Indignation. Causes and committees. “Theoretical crap.” Deafness awareness.

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Part 6:

Remote concerns. Public sector money. Kinnock and competence. Falling apart.

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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.



What worries me is the narration at the end. These people who could not run their own paper are now in senior positions. One of them chief editor for several papers and the other one head of documentaries for BBC. Still spreading their stupid, lack of results left wing bias. In the case of the chap at the BBC at the tax payers expense. The joke is still on us I'm afraid.

kevin of southbank

Another expose site is at http://www.slanderyou2.blogspot.com


I had to wipe away tears of laughter when Hayling, a key architect of this disaster, said, “Clearly we weren’t trapped in a leftwing bubble.” Self-awareness is not, it seems, his strong suit.

If you watch the whole series, which I recommend, what catches the eye are the former “revolutionaries” who don’t seem to grasp how what they wanted so passionately, and perhaps still want, was not only doomed by its own ideology, but was morally reprehensible. Do the self-regarding little pseuds who wanted to “smash capitalism” and “remake society” comprehend exactly what that would have entailed, and who it would have harmed? And do they care? Perhaps that’s another documentary to be made.


http://bbcpioneers.blogspot.com/ records the revolving door between extortion funded entertainment and leftwing parties.

P.S. You also got a linky from Tim Blair!


Yes, the traffic stats are heaving. I may have to fetch an extra chair and move the sofa back a bit.

Damian P.

Watching this, I realized how Thatcher was able to push through her painful (though necessary) reforms with such relative ease. Just look who she was up against.

Say what you will about Tony Blair, but he was several orders of magnitude better than the mid-80s-era British left.



“Just look who she was up against.”

Quite. It boggles the mind to imagine just how wrecked and demoralised the country would have been in the hands of devout Socialist Neil Kinnock, or Michael Foot, or Tony Benn, or those even more devout, who openly spoke of “the class enemy.”



Great line: 'I was interested in free speech… I was a Communist.'

phantom menace

David, thanks for posting this too. Amazing stuff.

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