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How I investigate Britain: photograph that specifies 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 kills that sum up Britishness for them

A striking miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee depicts striking miner( Striking? Hes utterly splendid !) George Geordie Brealey( privilege) 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 clashes in recent British civil biography, 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 comedian with police officers on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one serviceman, 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 recognition, but it seems increasingly relevant to the discords of contemporary Britain. Orgreave distinguished a turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners impres, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the splits of Brexit they object back to a moment like this.

The
The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Photo: 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 parents were part of the Windrush generation, so this photo has a particular poignancy for me. Long before Linford Christie or Jessica Ennis prevailed 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, unfriendly police sus laws, flunking schools and the rising strife of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But it also captivates the proposed establishment of multicultural Britain and show a being of hope and possibility. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to make 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,
Didcot power plant, Oxfordshire, UK, 27 July 2014. Photograph: ajsissues/ Alamy Stock Photo

Joan Bakewell, broadcaster

I affection these cooling towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were razed in July 2014] the latter are things of real grace. Whenever I passed on the teach, I would put down my book to experience them. They had great sweeping curves and in all weathers returned a different face to the world. We continue windmills and steam sets, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the death of builds: industrial ones signal the be removed from one era to new technologies to another. Their extermination tags the transfer of age, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant hitherto imagine. The instant when they fall to the soil markings a moment in history exited for ever. No amaze people gaze in marvel when that happens.

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

VE festivities, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captures the joyfulnes of one of the most important moments of the 20 th century the win over dictatorship in 1945. It likewise symbolises the huge paces obligated for gender equality in the second world war. Ladies entered previously all-male positions: without their conflict struggle, we might not have triumphed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its best. It was the peoples of the territories campaign, where our citizens presented mettle and relinquish beyond our modern resources. It proved that government intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were deemed disgraceful. The common good developed firstly. People of all classes, hastens and nations joined to represent Britain against the Nazis. We accepted refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The is necessary to a fairer, more equal society was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth party was the equivalent of the anti-Tory confederation we need today: it united socialists, liberals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it established radical policies popular and won wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass petition 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 triumphed social justice in 1945. Why cant we prevail it now?

British
British politician Nigel Farage converges 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 new era of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their dreamings. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman goes nothing but the lamentable happiness of playing courtroom jester 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 crushed, their wages lowered, mashed by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two affluent humankinds posing outside a gold heave. And the powerful one has a squad scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to further penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the reign of the 1 %. This photo represents the official coronation of the brand-new toytown monarches and their hapless marionettes, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, tyrannical politics in a hi-tech world-wide.

Miner
Miner at his evening meal, 1937. Photograph: 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 native, he created a disinterested, foreigners perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political point, but his videos have become the defining portraits of the Great Depression.

Brandt likewise wanted to delivering his highly stylised approaching to photograph implacable portraits of the people who lived and made in these industrial communities like this shot Brandts most celebrated picture from his northern outing taken in 1937, of a Northumbrian miner devouring his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully posed this video, sending the specific characteristics and ordering the move, does this detract from the strength of the persona? Brandts northern study never prepared him money and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these draws was an extraordinary coming together of styles to create a striking and colors imagination 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 propelled, a weekly periodical filled with photographs on every sheet, the fact-finding mission account to make a visual account of British people at home, at work and at play.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

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

Melanie C, vocalist

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his trademark howl is on the racetrack in his succes constitute, arms spread wide and his opponents blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic athletes for a long time, but actually the people who are achieving extraordinary things against the odds are our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to people with physical disabilities, I used to feel doubtful about the decorum, but the biggest concept that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed outlooks in general. It was a really special occasion and it changed families views for ever. Weir held claims. He won the marathon. He acquired four ambers in 2012.

Britain has a reputation for being a bit negative, a little bit bleak. But that summer we depicted 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 very lucky to live in the capital city. It was a wonderful age, and, for me, this image transmits so much better superpower, forte, resolve all that is the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle
Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist gathering, some of them carrying rockets, run from a obstruction they have made near Aldgate. The police are accusing on the far side of the barricade, which has been reinforced with paving stones. Photo: Heritage 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 boys, 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 power of people and communities grouped together. A organization was form of Jewish East Enders, Irish dockworkers, trade unionists, Labour party members and many more coming together in solidarity to spurn autocracy and everything associated with it.

This was a historic turning point, a win that had lasting repercussions because it showed that dictatorship could be fought through parishes combining something that should continue to stimulate us.

Last October, the 80 th commemoration of Cable Street, I was proud to join another organization of legislators, the Jewish community, trade unions, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , not only to honour and remember the heroic people who fought against fascism in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to resume that battle. To pronounce: when we see events that are contentious, go against our British significances and are just fundamentally incorrect, we must call them out; well never let autocracy, racism or racism dominate. These are importances that ring true in London, more than in all regions of the world.

Womens March, London, 21 January 2017

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

Kate Nash, singer

Whats so cool about this scene is that you have an iconic British bronze alongside a word on equal opportunities. There were a loads of clues at the womens march in London its become really popular to get creative with them.

There has been a partiality within history in general for women to be small, to cross their leg and brush their “hairs-breadth”. Even in the music industry, followers have tried to quieten me down and package me differently. Now ladies want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about coming together to stand up for cases we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This placard has such a potent message its unapologetic, its raging. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be snacked!

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

Richard
A Line Established by Walking, 1967 Picture: Richard Long. All Privilege Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Realized By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I could really guess having this photograph in my home and it making different things to me at different times in my life. Its a photo thats so grown-up. Before you understand what it outlines, its such a nourish, simple-minded likenes. Then, when “youre reading” that this was a line that Richard Long formed himself, by ambling up and down, up and down theres something so metaphorical and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the creator can be seen in the likenes. Long has entered his own pressure on the planet and the acces he occupies his encloses with this photograph. That play of making art is beautiful to me; it ever induces me improbably happy.

I first saw this image when I was a photographers aide 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 appearance, where the charcoal-gray hasnt been lifted from the working paper and yet you feel as if you are able to know the girl depicted. Its that kind of delicacy and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an master occurs in their prowes, I find it unbelievably heavy-handed its so evident, like an interior design magazine. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The being behind the persona always 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
David Cameron at the European heads of state and governments summit at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Meter employed this photo following the end of Brexit. Photograph: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, columnist

This photograph though taken in 2015 was on the front extend of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised gambling, betting Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the ball would invent quietly back to pitch-black. Instead, the financial austerity measures that drove the UK deeper and deeper into the crimson made certain that the play itself would end on red. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian mentality of the Tory party delighted they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island territory. And those inexpensive scams, 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 slackened, the counting was in, and the UK was out of Europe. Cameron and George Osborne never believed it could happen. Arrogant luxurious boys out of touch with the miseries its own policy had made. No plan for what would does happen. Cameron vacated. I guess he thought that was noble. He should have been was necessary to clean up his own mess. Not hanging in there to move millions.

But he hadnt lost his money, or his home, or his future. He saved that for the little people. The parties his government had been gambling with all along. Unexpectedly there was a chance for the little beings to revolve the rotate. No one 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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