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How I construe Britain: photo that define the country

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 shots that sum up Britishness for them

A striking miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee presents striking miner( Impressing? Hes absolutely sumptuous !) George Geordie Brealey( claim) and policeman Paul Castle( far left) at Orgreave on 18 June 1984. What followed, known as the Battle of Orgreave, are members of the severest confrontations in recent British civil history, 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 jester with police officers on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one gentleman, 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 reminiscence, but it seems increasingly relevant to the splits of contemporary Britain. Orgreave tagged a turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners strike, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the divisions of Brexit they place back to a moment like this.

The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Picture: Vanley Burke

The Boy With the Flag, 1970

David Lammy, Labour MP

Vanley Burkes image imparts the promise of second-generation immigrants born in Britain after their parents had territory on our shorings on the Windrush in 1948. My mothers were part of the Windrush generation, so this photo has a particular piquancy for me. Long before Linford Christie or Jessica Ennis acquired gold medals for Britain and wrap 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 season for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, hostile police sus laws, miscarrying colleges and the developing discord of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But the committee is also captivates the proposed establishment of multicultural Britain and conveys a flavour of hope and possibility. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to stir 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 adoration these cooling towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were demolished in July 2014] they were happenings of real glamour. Whenever I passed on the train, I would put down my journal to experience them. They had enormous sweeping curves and in all conditions passed a different look to the world. We perpetuate windmills and steam civilizes, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the deaths among constructs: industrial ones signal the move from one epoch to new technologies to another. Their eradication commemorates the happen of duration, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant hitherto imagine. The instant when they fall to the field commemorates a moment in history disappeared for ever. No wonder people gaze in amazement when that happens.

Soldiers from the Womens Royal Army Corps in their services vehicle, driving through Trafalgar Square during the course of its VE Day observances in London. Image: RJ Salmon/ Getty Images

VE revels, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captures the rapture of one of the most important point times of the 20 th century the succes over fascism in 1945. It likewise symbolises the huge strides constituted for gender equality in the second world war. Females penetrated previously all-male occupations: without their campaign attempt, we might not have prevailed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its best. It was the peoples of the territories struggle, where ordinary citizens indicated fortitude and relinquish beyond our modern imaginations. It have confirmed that state intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were deemed disgraceful. The common good called first. Beings of all first-class, races and people joined 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 alliance we need today: it united socialists, radicals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it made revolutionary programs popular and acquired wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass request in the second world war. The parties demanded, and later reached, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They prevailed social right in 1945. Why cant we acquire it now?

British politician Nigel Farage gratifies 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, writer

This picture of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage says so much about our brand-new epoch of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their nightmares. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman goes nothing but the happy atonement of playing court fool to the American, in this new world order he has undeniably helped bring about. The dispirited and defeated former aristocrats of labour in the post-industrial American and UK barrens, their unions smashed, their wages lowered, subdued by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two affluent husbands posing outside a gold raise. And the potent one has a crew scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to farther penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the ascendancy of the 1 %. This scene represents the official coronation of the new toytown lords and their hapless dolls, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, authoritarian politics in a hi-tech world.

Miner at his evening meal, 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 compound modes from art and photojournalism. As a stranger, he brought a impartial, outsiders perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political phase, but his depicts have become the defining personas of the Great Depression.

Brandt also wanted to returning his highly stylised approaching to photograph steadfast descriptions of the people who lived and wreaked in these industrial parishes like this shot Brandts most celebrated photograph from his northern outing take place within 1937, of a Northumbrian miner ingesting his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully constituted this image, steering the specific characteristics and formatting the primed, does this detract from the capability of the portrait? Brandts northern job never became him money and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these paintings was an extraordinary coming together of forms to create a stark and vivid vision of Britain never seen before.

Brandt never stopped pushing the boundaries of his art and he is rightly considered one of the most important photographers to have worked in Britain. He would also go on to work on a groundbreaking new publication that photographed every aspect of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was launched, a weekly publication fitted with photo on every sheet, its mission proclamation to make a visual enter of British beings at home, at work and at romp.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

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

Melanie C, singer

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his mark moan is on the way in his win constitute, limbs spread wide and his contestants blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic athletes for a very long time, but really the people who are achieving prodigious circumstances against the odds are our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to beings with disabilities, I used to feel uncertain about the etiquette, but the most difficult concept that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed attitudes in general. It was a really special experience and it changed folks positions for ever. Weir held designations. He won the marathon. He acquired four golds in 2012.

Britain has a honour for being a bit negative, a little bit pessimistic. But that summertime we demo the world how to do it. Everyone pulled together and it was a positive time to be in London. This image, along with so many others, reminds me of a year in which I appeared very lucky to live in the capital city. It was a wonderful time, and, for me, this image gives so much strength, forte, resolve all that is the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist mob, some of them carrying weapons, run from a obstruction the government had erected near Aldgate. The police are charging on the far side of the barricade, which has been reinforced with paving stones. Picture: Patrimony Images/ Getty Images

Battle of Cable Street, 5 October 1936

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London

More than 80 years ago in October 1936 thousands of brave and gallant followers, women and children gathered to oppose dictatorship in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

That day, Mosleys fascists were forced into a humiliating retreat something achieved only through the supremacy of people and communities grouped together. A coalition was constitute of Jewish East Enders, Irish dockworkers, trade unionists, Labour party members and many more coming together in solidarity to reject fascism and everything associated with it.

This was a historic turning point, a win that had lasting repercussions because it has been demonstrated that dictatorship could be repelled through communities merging something that should continue to induce us.

Last October, the 80 th commemoration of Cable Street, I was proud to join another coalition of legislators, the Jewish community, trade unions, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , is not simply to honour and remember the gallant people who fought against autocracy in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to continue that campaign. To mention: when we experience circumstances the hell is contentious, go against our British qualities and are just basically incorrect, we must call them out; well never give autocracy, intolerance or racism predominate. These are appraises 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, vocalist

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

There has been a partiality within history in general for women to be small, to cross their leg and brush their fuzz. Even in the music manufacture, husbands have tried to quieten me down and pack me differently. Now females want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about coming together to stand up for crusades we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This placard has such a potent word its unapologetic, its vehement. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be ingested!

It examines as if someone has left this placard there at the end of the marching. It is a piece of art it keeps on telling a narrative even when youve got on the Tube and gone home. ( As told to Leah Harper )

A Line Constructed by Walking, 1967 Photograph: Richard Long. All Privilege Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Reached By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I could really envisage having this photo in my home and it meaning different things to me at different times in my life. Its a video thats so mature. Before you understand what it depicts, its such a nurture, simple-minded epitome. Then, when “youre reading” that this was a line that Richard Long made himself, by ambling up and down, up and down theres something so symbolic and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the artist can be seen in the epitome. Long has recorded his own pressing on the planet and the road he colonizes his encircles with this photograph. That ordinance of making art is beautiful to me; it always clears me fantastically happy.

I first 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 book Richards work. For me, this image is like a Matisse drawing of a face, where the charcoal-gray hasnt been lifted from the working paper and hitherto you feel as if you are able to know the girl depicted. Its that kind of goody and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an master intervenes in their artwork, I find it improbably heavy-handed its so evident, like an interior design publication. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The being behind the portrait always interests me as much as the picture itself and I like to see their fingerprint in their work. ( As told to Leah Harper )

David Cameron, June 2015

David Cameron at the European head of government summit at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Times exploited this photograph immediately after Brexit. Photograph: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, author

This photograph though taken in 2015 was on the front treat of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised adventurer, gambling Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the projectile would revolve softly back to pitch-black. Instead, the economic austerity measures that drove the UK deeper and deeper into the crimson made certain that the play itself would end on blood-red. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian psyche of the Tory party charmed they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island empire. And those cheap forgeries, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, thrilling to an outcome that would work in the services offered of their personal ambition.

That sickening darknes, 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 touch with the miseries their policies had wrought. No plan for what would does happen. Cameron resigned. I suppose he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not walk away to reach millions.

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

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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