Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Selfish Giant and other fictions

Clio Barnard's film The Selfish Giant has already been described as "hauntingly perfect" and "jaggedly moving" as it premieres at the Cannes film festival, the director herself is being feted as a new and important presence in British cinema.  I have to declare some skin in this game as the original story (The Selfish Giant) by Oscar Wilde was my mother’s  favorite children’s book, and if you have children and you haven’t read the story you should pop out and buy it now!  The story goes something like this -
When the Giant returns from long trip away from home and discovers the local children playing in his beautiful garden, he chases the children away and builds a high wall around his plot to keep them out. The garden laments the loss of the children’s laughter and when spring comes, the plants and trees blossom everywhere except for the giant’s garden, which remains covered in winter snow.  From here the story then develops beautifully and sadly  -  you had better buy the book.
One of Ritva Voutila's original illustrations

Barnard’s Selfish Giant tells the story of two boys, Arbor and Swifty, who collect scrap metal with horse and cart, working for a mysterious figure known as Kitten, the film’s "selfish giant".  So far so good – but then Barnard also tells us that in the film "This economy is declining and there are not many opportunities for these boys and I guess I find that upsetting. The 'selfish giant' of my film is a selfish ideology. I liked Glenda Jackson's speech (at the time of her death) when she said that under Thatcher selfishness and greed had become virtues. The film is about what got lost.”
Just to remind us all as to what got lost in the years 1979 – 1990 I thought I would make a short list:

  • We lost the tyrannical power of union bosses who effectively ran this country as a dictatorship
  • We lost the all-pervading sense of gloom and doom and lack of place in the world
  • We lost the selfish notion that benefits (funded by tax payers) were a  legitimate alternative to hard work 
  • We lost the gross amounts of tax that we had to pass to a wasteful and overbearing government
  • We lost most of the nationalised state monopolies that institutionalised high prices and poor services
  • We lost rubbish and litter piled up in the streets
  • We lost a rabidly left wing and dangerous Labour party intent on destroying the great institutions of our country
  • We lost the handle – the sick man of Europe
  • And we lost, for a time, the sycophantic self-servicing claptrap of the left – but now it’s back!

This idea that success and wealth creation is selfish and greedy is the great and cruel lie of the left.   The further idea that the state should be the arbiter of who gets what from the cumulative wealth created by the nation is a sick and dangerous joke.   The spurious lie, propagated by the left, that the rich are stealing the food from the mouths of the poor is, given this countries highly progressive tax regime, a gross distortion. The simple truth is that a higher rate taxpayer earning on average £60,000 for 40 years pays the government around £1,000,000 – this gets spent, predominantly, on services for the less well off.  These “tax millionaires” are the backbone of this country – they are not greedy nor are they selfish.  They certainly don’t need  tax exile Barnard (she lives in California) telling them that the one person who has stood up for them in the last 60 years – is responsible for the greed and selfishness in the UK.


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