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How I construe Britain: photo that specifies the two countries

Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been mapping its own history of photography in the UK. Here, Irvine Welsh, Sadiq Khan, Jeanette Winterson, Nadav Kander and others pick the fires that sum up Britishness for them

A stunning miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee shows striking miner( Striking? Hes utterly exquisite !) George Geordie Brealey( right) and policeman Paul Castle( far left) at Orgreave on 18 June 1984. What followed, known as the Battle of Orgreave, was one of the most violent clangs in recent British civil record, as 6,000 police officers and 5,000 miners faced off at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

Brealey was said to have form for joking and comic with police officer on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one soul, sarcastically incognito, facing an infinite militarised police force. Brealey is at once brave, good-humoured and anti-establishment a British hero.

I was two in 1984, so this event is beyond my living recollection, but it seems increasingly relevant to the disagreements of contemporary Britain. Orgreave differentiated a turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners ten-strike, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the disagreements of Brexit they time back to a moment like this.

The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Photograph: Vanley Burke

The Boy With the Flag, 1970

David Lammy, Labour MP

Vanley Burkes image transmits the promise of second-generation immigrants born in Britain after their parents had property on our shores on the Windrush in 1948. My mothers was already in the Windrush generation, so this photo has a particular keennes for me. Long before Linford Christie or Jessica Ennis acquired gold medals for Britain and wrapped themselves in the British flag, these young men and women began to identify with the two countries that was their only home.

Of course, this was the opening up of a bittersweet span for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, unfriendly police sus constitutions, miscarrying schools and the developing discord of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But the committee is also captivates the proposed establishment of multicultural Britain and convey a flavour of hope and opening. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to attain significant myriad contributions to Britain, from the rebirth of the NHS to the transformation of the Premier League. Nothing would be quite the same again.

Didcot power station, 27 July 2014

Didcot power station, Oxfordshire, UK, 27 July 2014. Photograph: ajsissues/ Alamy Stock Photo

Joan Bakewell, broadcaster

I adored these refrigerating towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were bulldozed in July 2014] they were thoughts of real beauty. Whenever I passed on the study, I would put down my book to enjoy them. They had great sweeping curves and in all conditions transformed a different appearance to the world. We continue windmills and steam improves, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the death of constructs: industrial ones signal the be removed from one period to new technologies to another. Their ruin labels the passing of epoch, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant hitherto imagine. The minute when they fall to the field commemorates a moment in history proceeded for ever. No amazement parties gaze in feeling when that happens.

Soldiers from the Womens Royal Army Corps in their service vehicle, driving through Trafalgar Square during the VE Day occasions in London. Photograph: RJ Salmon/ Getty Images

VE fetes, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captivates the exuberance of one of the most important times of the 20 th century the win over dictatorship in 1945. It also symbolises the enormous steps prepared for equal opportunities in the second world war. Females penetrated previously all-male occupancies: without their crusade attempt, we might not have prevailed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its good. It was the peoples battle, where ordinary citizens presented firmnes and sacrifice beyond our modern imaginations. It had confirmed that government intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were seen shameful. The common good came firstly. People of all years, hastens and nations united to defend Britain against the Nazis. We accepted refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The is necessary to a fairer, more equal culture was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth party was the equivalent of the anti-Tory partnership we need today: it joined progressives, radicals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it reached progressive programs popular and prevailed wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass appeal in the second largest world war. The parties necessitated, and later reached, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They prevailed social justice in 1945. Why cant we triumph it is currently?

British politician Nigel Farage matches President Elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, NYC, on 12 November 2016.
Photograph: Wigmore/ Finn/ Splash News

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, 12 November 2016

Irvine Welsh, author

This picture of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage says so much about our brand-new period of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their daydreams. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman goes nothing but the heartbreaking satisfaction of playing tribunal fool to the American, in this new world order he has undeniably helped are carrying out. The dispirited and overcome former aristocrats of labour in the post-industrial American and UK barrens, their unions crushed, their wages lowered, subdued by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two wealthy people posing outside a gold elevate. And the powerful one has a crew scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to further penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the preeminence of the 1 %. This photo represents the official coronation of the new toytown monarches and their hapless puppets, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, tyrannical politics in a hi-tech nature.

Miner at his evening banquet, 1937. Photo: Bill Brandt

Northumbrian coalminer and his wife, 1937

Eamonn McCabe, photographer

In 1937, German-born Bill Brandt travelled to the north of England where he would be the first to combine modes from arts and photojournalism. As a stranger, he delivered a disinterested, intruders perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political stage, but his draws have become the defining images of the Great Depression.

Brandt also wanted to introducing his highly stylised approach to photograph steadfast photographs of the people who lived and toiled in these industrial parishes like this shot Brandts most celebrated image from his northern tour taken in 1937, of a Northumbrian miner feeing his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully posed this situation, directing the characters and formatting the prepare, does this detract from the strength of the likenes? Brandts northern wreak never built him fund and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these drawings was an extraordinary coming together of modes to create a stark and evocative vision of Britain ever seen before.

Brandt never stopped pushing the borders of his art and he is rightly considered one of the most important point photographers to have worked in Britain. He would also go on to work on a groundbreaking new publication that photographed all other aspects of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was launched, a weekly periodical fitted with photo on every sheet, its mission affirmation to make a visual preserve of British people at home, at work and at play.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

London 2012 Paralympic Games. David Weir of GB celebrates triumphing the three men T54 800 m final . . Picture: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Melanie C, vocalist

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his trademark howling is on the trail in his victory pose, arms spread wide-ranging and his contestants blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic athletes for a very long time, but really the people who are achieving extraordinary circumstances against the odds are our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to beings with disabilities, I used to feel unsure about the decorum, but the biggest concept that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed stances in general. It was a really special day and it shifted people positions for ever. Weir held deeds. He won the marathon. He acquired four ambers in 2012.

Britain has a honour for being a bit negative, a bit bleak. But that summer we presented the world how to do it. Everyone pulled together and it was a positive time to be in London. This image, together with so many others, reminds me of a year in which I experienced so lucky to live in the capital. It was a wonderful epoch, and, for me, this image imparts so much dominance, fortitude, determination everything that the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist audience, some of them carrying missiles, run from a barricade they have made near Aldgate. The police are charging on the far side of the barricade, which has been reinforced with paving stones. Picture: Patrimony Portrait/ Getty Images

Battle of Cable Street, 5 October 1936

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London

More than 80 years ago in October 1936 millions of courageous and courageous servicemen, women and children gathered to oppose dictatorship in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

That day, Mosleys totalitarians were forcing them a humiliating retreat something achieved only through the dominance of people and communities grouped together. A bloc was make of Jewish East Enders, Irish dockworkers, trade unionists, Labour party members and many more coming together in solidarity to spurn dictatorship and everything associated with it.

This was a historic turning point, a succes that had lasting repercussions because it showed that fascism “couldve been” defied through parishes coalescing something that should continue to inspire us.

Last October, the 80 th anniversary of Cable Street, I was proud to join another organization of legislators, the Jewish community , trade union, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , is not simply to honour and recollect the fearles people who fought against dictatorship in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to resume that engage. To say: when we hear things that are contentious, go against our British significances and are just fundamentally incorrect, we must call them out; well never give dictatorship, racism or racism predominate. These are qualities that ring true in London, more than anywhere in the world.

Womens March, London, 21 January 2017

Womens March, London, 21 January 2017. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images

Kate Nash, singer

Whats so cool about this photo is that you have an iconic British statue alongside a word on gender equality. There were a loads of signeds at the status of women rally in London its become really popular to get imaginative with them.

There has been a predisposition within history in general for women to be small, to cross their leg and touch their whisker. Even in the music industry, people have tried to quieten me down and pack me differently. Now ladies want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about coming together to stand up for effects we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This sign has such a powerful theme its unapologetic, its fierce. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be dined!

It searches as if someone has left this poster there at the end of the parade. It is a piece of art it hinders on telling a legend even when youve got on the Tube and gone home. ( As told to Leah Harper )

A Line Cleared by Walking, 1967 Picture: Richard Long. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Drawn By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I could really see having this photograph in my house and it intending different things to me at different minutes in “peoples lives”. Its a slide thats so full-grown. Before you understand what it illustrates, its such a nourishing, simple image. Then, when “youre reading” that this was a line that Richard Long composed himself, by walking up and down, up and down theres something so symbolic and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the master can be seen in the persona. Long has preserved his own push on countries around the world and the course he occupies his surroundings with this photograph. That act of making art is beautiful to me; it ever manufactures me improbably happy.

I firstly saw this image when I was a photographers assistant in the West End of London. I used to visit Adrian Ensor, the printer in Fitzrovia who used to photograph Richards work. For me, this image is like a Matisse drawing of a face, where the charcoal-grey hasnt been lifted from the paper and yet you feel as if you are able to know the girl illustrated. Its that kind of goody and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an master occurs in their artwork, I find it incredibly heavy-handed its so evident, like an interior design magazine. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The person behind the epitome ever interests me as much as the picture itself and I like to see their fingerprint in the performance of their duties. ( As told to Leah Harper )

David Cameron, June 2015

David Cameron at the European heads of state and governments summit at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Times use this photo immediately after Brexit. Photograph: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, writer

This photograph though take place within 2015 was on the front include of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised speculator, gambling Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the pellet would revolve calmly back to black. Instead, the financial austerity measures that drove the UK deeper and deeper into the ruby-red made certain that the play itself would end on red. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian psyche of the Tory party thrilled they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island territory. And those inexpensive frauds, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, stimulating to an outcome that would work in the services offered of their personal ambition.

That sickening night, as the roulette wheel braked, the count was in, and the UK was out of Europe. Cameron and George Osborne never believed it could happen. Arrogant luxury boys out of contact with the miseries their policies had wreaked. No plan for what would does happen. Cameron renounced. I suppose he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not hanging in there to clear millions.

But he hadnt lost his coin, or his house, or his future. He saved that for the little people. The beings his government had been gambling with all along. Suddenly there was a chance for the little people to rotate the rotate. No one “ve told them” that once again they could only misplace.

The final chapter of Britain in Focus: A Photographic History is on BBC4 on Monday 20 March at 9pm. <a

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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