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I’ve rewatched 150 episodes of Brookside – here’s how the soap captured the nuances of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain

The show is being rebroadcast for a new generation and is more educational and political than it might have first appeared.



The Grant family, some of Brookside's most famous characters. Lime Pictures / STV Player

If you want to understand how Margaret Thatcher shaped Britain, revisiting one particular 1980s soap opera is a great place to start. Brookside, a show set in a Liverpool cul-de-sac, ran for 21 years, airing just under 3,000 episodes between 1982 and 2003.

Brookside was therefore conceived amid the Thatcher administration’s first term, and a notable eight years of its broadcasting output coincided with her tenure.

The show is now being rebroadcast in full on digital channel STV. I’ve watched over 150 episodes so far, finding at the same time, a notable resource for social historians or indeed anyone interested in the contemporary impact and longer-term legacy of Thatcherism.

A distinctive location

Brookside Close, where the show was filmed, was not a TV set but part of a real private housing estate – at the time, Europe’s largest. To make Brookside, Mersey Television purchased a small corner of a flourishing development that saw around 1,000 new properties constructed over a seven year period in the 1980s.

The growing residential area typified the contemporary “new right” vision of aspirational home ownership.

According to the Thatcherite ideology of economic liberalism, such emerging estates would ideally produce a new generation of homeowners and, ultimately, Conservative-inclined voters. UK home-ownership increased during the 1980s and some areas with growing owner-occupation shifted towards the Conservatives at that time (particularly in the south east).

However, despite such private housing trends, there was a marked anti-Conservative swing in Liverpool’s six parliamentary seats between 1983 and 1987, considerably above the national average.

A shot of Brookside Close.
Brookside was filmed in real houses on a real street rather than a TV set. Lime Pictures / STV Player

Riots had hit Liverpool’s Toxteth district in 1981 and were followed by allegations of government-driven managed decline. Meanwhile the city’s “Militant” city council was, by the mid-1980s, engaged in a high-profile ideological clash with Thatcher’s administration.

Brookside’s specific geographical location therefore provided a distinctive political edge and social barometer. It increasingly came to reflect the vibes of growing opposition to Thatcherism, which ultimately spread across the country as the decade progressed.

Fluid social status

Brookside featured class-based tensions that reflected the demographic change and social fluidity that emerged in the 1980s. Some recurring characters such as the Grant family represented the upwardly-mobile working classes – people who bought into housing developments like Brookside Close as part of the climb up the social ladder.

Meanwhile, families such as the Collins were part of a downwardly-mobile middle class. They represented the many people who had been forced to downsize and relocate as a result of money troubles brought on by the prolonged recession of the early 1980s.

There were also yuppies (the Huntingtons, who were younger and more affluent professional people with materialistic tendencies) and even characters from the very early computer technology generation (Alan Partridge, who worked from home before it was cool). The close also had black market wheeler dealers in Barry Grant and his associates, and houseproud neighbourhood busybodies (Harry Cross).

A shot of a fictional family from 80s soap opera Brookside.
The Corkhill family. Lime Pictures / STV Player

These character categories can be seen as illustrative of the times, particularly the shifting class dynamics and changing employment patterns fuelled by Thatcher’s policies. Most of the original families on the close were adapting to changes in the employment market, one way or another.

No such thing as society?

During the 1980s, Brookside increasingly featured a narrative of resistance towards Thatcherism. It was an outlook that stemmed from the leftwing politics of Brookside’s creator Phil Redmond and emerging writers like Jimmy McGovern.

Leftwing actors such as Ricky Tomlinson (who played Bobby Grant) further reflected this aura. Redmond lamented in 2021 that modern-day soap operas don’t “tackle the real social issues” in the same way they did in the 1980s.

The underlying anti-government sentiment could often be identified in Brookside’s dialogue. In mid-1983, for example, when Sheila Grant asked her husband Bobby “where would we be if we all thought about ourselves?”, he swiftly replied: “The Conservative party”.

But in their attempts to navigate their differences, the residents of Brookside Close challenged one of Thatcher’s most infamous assertions – that there is “no such thing as society … there are individual men and women and there are families”.

The sense of society and community that developed in the show’s plotlines would be one of its most popular traits, making it a ratings success by the middle of the decade.

Yet by the mid to late 1990s, the show went into decline following a relatively golden period of television popularity during the second half of the 1980s. There was perhaps less to rail against during the New Labour era. It could be argued that Brookside flourished while Thatcherism thrived.

To watch Brookside again in 2023 is to see Thatcher’s premiership both implicitly and explicitly reflected in contemporary everyday life. Characters from multiple families faced unemployment and there were even plotlines about strikes.

The struggle of meeting mortgage payments was ever present for residents on the close and tensions between generations and classes played out in often spectacular fashion.

Brookside thereby provides a human angle by which to analyse the impact of some of Thatcherism’s most high-profile policies during a monumental decade of cataclysmic political and social change.

Ben Williams is a member of the UCU and Amnesty International

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Which New World Order Are We Talking About?

Which New World Order Are We Talking About?

Authored by Jeff Thomas via,

Those of us who are libertarians have a tendency…



Which New World Order Are We Talking About?

Authored by Jeff Thomas via,

Those of us who are libertarians have a tendency to speak frequently of “the New World Order.”

When doing so, we tend to be a bit unclear as to what the New World Order is.

Is it a cabal of the heads of the world’s governments, or just the heads of Western governments?

Certainly bankers are included somewhere in the mix, but is it just the heads of the Federal Reserve and the IMF, or does it also include the heads of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, etc.?

And how about the Rothschilds? And the Bundesbank—surely, they’re in there, too?

And the list goes on, without apparent end.

Certainly, all of the above entities have objectives to increase their own power and profit in the world, but to what degree do they act in concert? Although many prominent individuals, world leaders included, have proclaimed that a New World Order is their ultimate objective, the details of who’s in and who’s out are fuzzy. Just as fuzzy is a list of details as to the collective objectives of these disparate individuals and groups.

So, whilst most libertarians acknowledge “the New World Order,” it’s rare that any two libertarians can agree on exactly what it is or who it’s comprised of. We allow ourselves the luxury of referring to it without being certain of its details, because, “It’s a secret society,” as evidenced by the Bilderberg Group, which meets annually but has no formal agenda and publishes no minutes. We excuse ourselves for having only a vague perception of it, although we readily accept that it’s the most powerful group in the world.

This is particularly true of Americans, as Americans often imagine that the New World Order is an American construct, created by a fascist elite of US bankers and political leaders. The New World Order may be better understood by Europeans, as, actually, it’s very much a European concept—one that’s been around for quite a long time.

It may be said to have had its beginnings in ancient Rome. As Rome became an empire, its various emperors found that conquered lands did not automatically remain conquered. They needed to be managed—a costly and tedious undertaking. Management was far from uniform, as the Gauls could not be managed in the same manner as the Egyptians, who in turn, could not be managed like the Mesopotamians.

After the fall of Rome, Europe was in many ways a shambles for centuries, but the idea of “managing” Europe was revived with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The peace brought an end to the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic. It brought together the Holy Roman Empire, The House of Habsburg, the Kingdoms of Spain and France, the Dutch Republic, and the Swedish Empire.

Boundaries were set, treaties were signed, and a general set of assumptions as to the autonomy within one’s borders were agreed, to the partial satisfaction of all and to the complete satisfaction of no one… Sound familiar?

Later, Mayer Rothschild made his name (and his fortune) by becoming the financier to the military adventures of the German Government. He then sent his sons out to England, Austria, France, and Italy to do the same—to create a New World Order of sorts, under the control of his family through national debt to his banks. (Deep Throat was right when he said, “Follow the Money.”)

So, the concept of a New World Order has long existed in Europe in various guises, but what does this tell us about the present and, more important, the future?

In our own time, we have seen presidents and prime ministers come and go, whilst their most prominent advisors, such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, continue from one administration to the next, remaining advisors for decades. Such men are often seen as the voices of reason that may be the guiding force that brings about a New World Order once and for all.

Mister Brzezinski has written in his books that order in Europe depends upon a balance with Russia, which must be created through the control of Ukraine by the West. He has stated repeatedly that it’s critical for this to be done through diplomacy, that warfare would be a disaster. Yet, he has also supported the US in creating a coup in Ukraine. When Russia became angered at the takeover, he openly supported American aggression in Ukraine, whilst warning that Russian retaliation must not be tolerated.

Henry Kissinger, who has literally written volumes on his “pursuit of world peace” has, when down in the trenches, also displayed a far more aggressive personality, such as his angry recommendation to US President Gerald Ford to “smash Cuba” when Fidel Castro’s military aid to Angola threatened to ruin Mr. Kissinger’s plans to control Africa.

Whilst the most “enlightened” New World Order advisors may believe that they are working on the “Big Picture,” when it comes down to brass tacks, they clearly demonstrate the same tendency as the more aggressive world leaders, and reveal that, ultimately, they seek to dominate. They may initially recommend diplomacy but resort to force if the other side does not cave to “reason” quickly.

If we stand back and observe this drama from a distance, what we see is a theory of balance between the nations of Europe (and, by extension, the whole world)—a balance based upon intergovernmental agreements, allowing for centralised power and control.

This theory might actually be possible if all the countries of the world were identical in every way, and the goals of all concerned were also identical. But this never has been and can never be the case. Every world leader and every country will differ in its needs and objectives. Therefore, each may tentatively agree to common conditions, as they have going back to the Peace of Westphalia, yet, even before the ink has dried, each state will already be planning to gain an edge on the others.

In 1914, Europe had (once again) become a tangle of aspirations of the various powers—a time bomb, awaiting only a minor incident to set it off. That minor incident occurred when a Serbian national assassinated an Austrian crown prince. Within a month, Europe exploded into World War. As Kissinger himself has observed in his writings, “[T]hey all contributed to it, oblivious to the fact that they were dismantling an international order.”

Since 1648, for every Richelieu that has sought to create a New World Order through diplomacy, there has been a Napoleon who has taken a militaristic approach, assuring that the New World Order applecart will repeatedly be upset by those who are prone to aggression.

Further, even those who seek to operate through diplomacy ultimately will seek aggressive means when diplomatic means are not succeeding.

A true world order is unlikely.

What may occur in its stead would be repeated attempts by sovereign states to form alliances for their mutual benefit, followed by treachery, one- upmanship, and ultimately, aggression. And very possibly a new World War.

But of one thing we can be certain: Tension at present is as great as it was in 1914. We are awaiting only a minor incident to set off dramatically increased international aggression. With all the talk that’s presently about as to a New World Order, what I believe will occur instead will be a repeat of history.

If this belief is correct, much of the world will decline into not only external warfare, but internal control. Those nations that are now ramping up into police states are most at risk, as the intent is already clearly present. All that’s needed is a greater excuse to increase internal controls. Each of us, unless we favour being engulfed by such controls, might be advised to internationalise ourselves—to diversify ourselves so that, if push comes to shove, we’re able to get ourselves and our families out of harm’s way.

*  *  *

Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey just released Surviving and Thriving During an Economic Collapse an urgent new PDF report. It explains what could come next and what you can do about it so you don’t become a victim. Click here to download it now.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/04/2023 - 03:30

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As yen weakens and interest peaks, Bank of Japan balances on a policy precipice

Quick Take The Bank of Japan (BOJ) stands at a critical juncture, striving to maintain a delicate balance amid a changing economic landscape. Recent data…



Quick Take

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) stands at a critical juncture, striving to maintain a delicate balance amid a changing economic landscape. Recent data shows that the 10-year yield, which the BOJ has endeavored to keep below 1%, has touched 0.8, a peak unseen since 2013. Simultaneously, the BOJ has labored not to let the Yen weaken, yet it continues to be pressured as it drops further against the US dollar, crossing the 150 mark for the first time in over a year.

There is burgeoning speculation about possible BOJ interventions in these market movements. As the central bank continues to uphold negative interest rates, a shift towards positive rates might become inevitable in the foreseeable future. It’s a precarious fulcrum of financial strategies that the BOJ is balancing on, with market tempests stirring on one side and the stability of the national currency on the other.

This scenario highlights the intricate dynamics of monetary policies and the profound impact they can have on both national and global economies. A closer look at the situation illuminates the complexities in the BOJ’s policy decisions and the broader implications on the financial landscape.

JPY: (Source: Trading View)

The post As yen weakens and interest peaks, Bank of Japan balances on a policy precipice appeared first on CryptoSlate.

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Poland, Austria, & Czechia Introduce Temporary Border-Checks With Slovakia To Curb Illegal Migration

Poland, Austria, & Czechia Introduce Temporary Border-Checks With Slovakia To Curb Illegal Migration

Authored by Thomas Brooke via Remix…



Poland, Austria, & Czechia Introduce Temporary Border-Checks With Slovakia To Curb Illegal Migration

Authored by Thomas Brooke via Remix News,

Poland, Austria and Czechia will all introduce random checks at the countries’ borders with Slovakia from midnight on Wednesday following an influx of illegal immigration.

Temporary checks will be conducted along the length of the border for an initial 10-day period until Oct. 13.

They will focus specifically on road and railway border crossings, although, pedestrians and cyclists may also be asked for documentation. Anyone within the vicinity of the border may be requested to identify themselves.

“The numbers of illegal migrants to the EU are starting to grow again,” said Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala following the announcement. “We don’t take the situation lightly.”

“Citizens need a valid passport or identity card to cross the border,” the Czech Interior Ministry added.

The Czech policy would also be adopted by neighboring Austria, the country’s Interior Minister Gerhard Karner confirmed.

Poland had already announced its intention to reintroduce checks on the Slovak border with the number of migrants along the Balkans migration route continuing to surge. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week he was “instructing Minister of Interior Mariusz Kamiński to check on buses, coaches, and cars crossing the border when it is suspected there could be illegal migrants on board.”

“In recent weeks, we detected and detained 551 illegal migrants at the border with Slovakia. This situation causes us to take decisive action,” Kaminski added.

Slovak caretaker Prime Minister Ludovit Odor acknowledged the growing issue of illegal migration in his country but insisted that the problem needs a European solution rather than individual nations restricting border access.

He claimed that the decision by the three neighboring countries had been fueled by the Polish government, which is involved in a tightly contested election campaign, with Poles heading to voting booths on Oct. 15.

“The whole thing has been triggered by Poland, where an election will soon take place, and the Czech Republic has joined in,” Odor said.

Slovakia revealed last month that the number of illegal migrants detained by its authorities this year had soared nine-fold to over 27,000. The majority of detainees comprise young men from the Middle East using the Balkan migratory route through Serbia as they seek to migrate to northwestern Europe.

The winner of Sunday’s general election in Slovakia, former Prime Minister Robert Fico, has vowed to tackle the issue more robustly by promising to reintroduce border checks with neighboring Hungary.

“It will not be a pretty picture,” Fico told journalists as he threatened to use force to dispel illegal migrants detected on Slovak territory.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/04/2023 - 02:00

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