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How I interpret Britain: photo that define the country

Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been charting 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 stunning miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee establishes striking miner( Striking? Hes utterly lovely !) George Geordie Brealey( claim) 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 clashes in recent British civil biography, as 6,000 police officer and 5,000 miners faced off at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

Brealey was said to have form for joking and clowning 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 remembering, but it seems increasingly relevant to the separations of contemporary Britain. Orgreave celebrated a turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners impres, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the divisions of Brexit they moment back to a moment like this.

The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Photo: Vanley Burke

The Boy With the Flag, 1970

David Lammy, Labour MP

Vanley Burkes image shows the promise of second-generation immigrants born in Britain after their parents had property on our shores 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 country that was their alone home.

Of course, this was the beginning of a bittersweet span for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, unfriendly police sus laws, failing colleges and the rising discord of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But it also captivates the birth of multicultural Britain and impart a character of hope and opportunity. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to become substantial 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 cooling towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were dismantled in July 2014] they were things of real charm. Whenever I passed on the instruct, I would put down my work to enjoy them. They had enormous sweeping curves and in all climates turned a different face to the world. We retain windmills and steam civilizes, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the death of buildings: industrial ones signal the removed from one era of technology to another. Their eradication observes the run of occasion, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant hitherto imagine. The moment when they fall to the sand recognizes a moment in record run for ever. No wonder parties gaze in marvel when that happens.

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

VE celebrations, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captivates the joy of one of the most important minutes of the 20 th century the win over fascism in 1945. It also symbolises the enormous strides cleared for equal opportunities in the second world war. Females penetrated previously all-male occupations: without their crusade endeavour, we might not have prevailed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its best. It was the peoples conflict, where our citizens established fortitude and sacrifice beyond our modern imaginations. It have also shown that regime intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were deemed reprehensible. The common good came firstly. Parties of all grades, hastens and nations joined to protect Britain against the Nazis. We welcomed refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The would be required for a fairer, more equal civilization was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth party was the equivalent of the anti-Tory partnership we need today: it joined socialists, liberals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it stimulated revolutionary programmes popular and prevailed wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass plea in the second world war. The parties asked, and later achieved, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They acquired social justice in 1945. Why cant we prevail it is currently?

British politician Nigel Farage congregates 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 period of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their dreams. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman gets nothing but the happy happiness of playing courtroom fool to the American, in this new world order he has undeniably facilitated bring about. The dispirited and beaten former aristocrats of labour in the post-industrial American and UK barrens, their unions smashed, their wages lowered, mashed by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two prosperous boys posing outside a gold raising. And the powerful one has a unit scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to further penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the domination of the 1 %. This paint represents the official coronation of the brand-new toytown sovereigns and their hapless dolls, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, dictatorial politics in a hi-tech world-wide.

Miner at his evening banquet, 1937. Image: 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 combining forms from arts and photojournalism. As a native, he made a disinterested, strangers perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political extent, but his paints have become the defining images of the Great Depression.

Brandt too wanted to returning his highly stylised approaching to photograph implacable likeness of the people who lived and toiled in these industrial communities like this shot Brandts most celebrated image from his northern jaunt take place within 1937, of a Northumbrian miner eating his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully constituted this scene, directing the characters and arranging the create, does this detract from the supremacy of the persona? Brandts northern study never prepared him money and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these drawings was an unprecedented grouped together of modes to create a striking and evocative image 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 the various aspects of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was launched, a weekly magazine filled with picture on every sheet, the fact-finding mission proclamation to make a visual enter of British parties at home, at work and at gambling.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

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

Melanie C, vocalist

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his mark wail is on the racetrack in his succes constitute, forearms spread wide-ranging and his contestants blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic players for a very long time, but truly the people who are achieving phenomenal things against the odds are our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to people with disabilities, I used to feel uncertain about the etiquette, but the biggest thing that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed positions in general. It was a really special age and it altered publics attitudes for ever. Weir retained titles. He won the marathon. He won four golds in 2012.

Britain has a reputation for being a bit negative, a bit pessimistic. But that summer we established 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, reminded everyone of a year in which I felt very lucky to live in the capital. It was a wonderful era, and, for me, this image conveys so much capability, strength, finding all that is the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist army, some of them carrying missiles, run from a obstruction the latter has erected 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 thousands of brave and indomitable humanities, women and children gathered to oppose dictatorship in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

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

This was a historic important turning point, a victory that had lasting repercussions because it demonstrating that fascism could be used withstood through communities connecting something that should continue to induce us.

Last October, the 80 th commemoration of Cable Street, I was proud to join another bloc of legislators, the Jewish parish , trade unions, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , is not merely to honour and remember the brave people who fought against dictatorship in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to sustain that combat. To say: where reference is identify things the hell is divisive, go against our British prices and are just basically wrong, we must call them out; well never let dictatorship, intolerance or prejudice reign. These are ethics that ring true in London, more than anywhere else 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 visualize is that you have an iconic British statue alongside a theme on equal opportunities. There were a loads of clues at the womens march in London its become really popular to get innovative with them.

There has been a bia 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 dames want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about grouped together to stand up for induces we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This sign has such a powerful word its unapologetic, its fierce. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be gobbled!

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

A Line Acquired by Walking, 1967 Photograph: Richard Long. All Claim Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Formed By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I “wouldve been” imagine having this photo in my house and it entailing different things to me at different instants in my life. Its a depict thats so mature. Before you understand what it outlines, its such a nourishing, simple epitome. Then, when “youre reading” that this was a line that Richard Long caused himself, by moving up and down, up and down theres something so metaphorical and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the master can be seen in the persona. Long has registered his own influence on countries around the world and the lane he occupies his encloses with this photograph. That behave of making art is beautiful to me; it always clears me fantastically happy.

I first saw this image when I was a photographers auxiliary in the West End of London. I used to visit Adrian Ensor, the printer in Fitzrovia who used to magazine Richards work. For me, this image is like a Matisse drawing of a face, where the charcoal-gray hasnt been lifted from the working papers and hitherto you feel as if you are able to know the girl imaged. Its that various kinds of elegance and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an artist occurs in their artistry, I find it unbelievably heavy-handed its so evident, like an interior design publication. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The party behind the persona 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 or government and governments summit at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Times exploited this photo immediately after Brexit. Photo: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, scribe

This photograph though take place within 2015 was on the front embrace of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised gambling, gambling Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the pellet would rotate calmly back to black. Instead, the financial austerity measures that pushed the UK deeper and deeper into the cherry-red made certain that the gamble itself would end on red-faced. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian psyche of the Tory party revelled 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, thrilling to an outcome that would work in the services offered of their personal ambition.

That sickening darknes, as the roulette wheel retarded, the weigh was in, and the UK was out of Europe. Cameron and George Osborne never believed it could happen. Arrogant posh sons out of contact with the miseries their policies had made. No plan for what would happen next. Cameron quitted. I presume he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not walk away to make millions.

But he hadnt lost his money, or his home, or his future. He saved that for the little parties. The beings his government had been gambling with all along. Abruptly there was a chance for the little people to invent the rotate. 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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