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How I interpret Britain: photograph that define the country

Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been mapping the 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 pictures impressing miner( Striking? Hes absolutely lush !) George Geordie Brealey( privilege) 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 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 comedian with police officer on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one soldier, 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 remember, but it seems increasingly relevant to the departments of contemporary Britain. Orgreave celebrated 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 fractions of Brexit they moment back to a moment like this.

The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Image: 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 property on our shores on the Windrush in 1948. My mothers 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 pennant, these young men and women began to identify with the country that was their only home.

Of course, this was the opening up of a bittersweet age for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, unfriendly police sus statutes, neglecting colleges and the emerging strife of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But the committee is also captures birth certificates of multicultural Britain and conveys a flavour of hope and possibility. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to move 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 loved these cooling towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were bulldozed in July 2014] the issue is things of real charm. Whenever I passed on the learn, I would put down my volume to enjoy them. They had great sweeping curves and in all conditions turned a different face to the world. We preserve windmills and steam qualifies, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the deaths among buildings: industrial ones signal the be removed from one period of these new technologies to another. Their eradication marks the occur of experience, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant hitherto imagine. The moment when they fall to the soil markings a moment in biography run for ever. No wonder people gaze in feeling when that happens.

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

VE celebrations, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captures the joy of one of the most important moments of the 20 th century the succes over autocracy in 1945. It also symbolises the enormous paces obliged for gender equality during the second world war. Females participated previously all-male occupancies: without their struggle struggle, we might not have triumphed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its best. It was the peoples struggle, where “citizens ” presented courage and sacrifice beyond our modern imaginations. It proved that nation intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were regarded shameful. The common good came firstly. Beings of all classifies, races and societies united to protect Britain against the Nazis. We welcomed refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The need for a fairer, more equal civilization was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth defendant was the equivalent of the anti-Tory partnership we need today: it joined progressives, liberals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it drew radical plans popular and acquired wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass appeal in the second world war. The beings asked, and later reached, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They acquired social right in 1945. Why cant we win it is now time?

British politician Nigel Farage assembles 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 epoch of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their fantasies. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman goes nothing but the lamentable satisfaction of playing tribunal 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, vanquished by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two prosperous souls posing outside a golden elevate. And the strong 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 picture represents the official coronation of the new toytown monarches and their hapless marionettes, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, dictatorial politics in a hi-tech world-wide.

Miner at his evening banquet, 1937. Picture: 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 modes from art and photojournalism. As a stranger, he drew a dispassionate, intruders perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political point, but his slides have become the defining personas of the Great Depression.

Brandt likewise wanted to fetching his highly stylised approaching to photograph implacable paintings of the people who lived and wreaked in these industrial communities like this shot Brandts most celebrated photograph from his northern tour taken in 1937, of a Northumbrian miner chewing his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully posed this situation, sending the specific characteristics and arranging the adjust, does this detract from the influence of the likenes? Brandts northern wreak never realized him money and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these illustrations was an unprecedented grouped together of styles to create a stark and evocative perception of Britain ever seen before.

Brandt never stopped pushing the border 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 brand-new publication that photographed all the aspects of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was propelled, a weekly periodical filled with photograph on every sheet, its mission account to make a visual record of British people at home, at work and at participate.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

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

Melanie C, vocalist

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his trademark wail is on the track in his win constitute, limbs spread wide-eyed and his opponents blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic jocks for a very long time, but genuinely the people who are achieving stunning things against the odds are our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to people with disabilities, I used to feel doubtful about the decorum, but the most difficult thing that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed outlooks in general. It was a really special epoch and it shifted folks views for ever. Weir retained entitlements. He won the marathon. He acquired four ambers in 2012.

Britain has a honour for being a bit negative, a little bit pessimistic. But that summertime we demonstrated 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 felt very lucky to live in the capital. It was a wonderful occasion, and, for me, this image imparts so much capability, fortitude, tenacity all that is the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

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

Battle of Cable Street, 5 October 1936

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London

More than 80 years ago in October 1936 thousands of courageous and fearless humen, women and children gathered to oppose fascism in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

That day, Mosleys totalitarians were forced into a humiliating retreat something achieved only through the superpower 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 reject autocracy and everything associated with it.

This was a historic important turning point, a succes that had lasting repercussions because it demonstrating that autocracy could be used defied through communities consolidating something that should continue to induce us.

Last October, the 80 th anniversary 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 recollect the brave people who fought against fascism in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to continue that contend. To say: when we consider things the hell is divisive, go against our British appraises and are just essentially incorrect, we must call them out; well never let dictatorship, racism or racism reign. These are importances that ring true in London, more than anywhere in the nations of 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 video is that you have an iconic British bronze alongside a theme on equal opportunities. There were a onus of signeds at the status of women march 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 legs and touch their hair. Even in the music industry, servicemen have tried to quieten me down and package me differently. Now maidens 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 potent theme its unapologetic, its fierce. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut away theyd be eaten!

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

A Line Become by Walking, 1967 Photograph: Richard Long. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Stirred By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I could really thoughts having this photograph in my house and it meaning different things to me at different times in my life. Its a slide thats so full-grown. Before you understand what it illustrates, its such a nourishing, simple-minded likenes. Then, when you read that this was a line that Richard Long caused himself, by marching up and down, up and down theres something so metaphorical and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the artist can be seen in the persona. Long has recorded his own pres on the planet and the space he colonizes his circumvents with this photograph. That act of making art is beautiful to me; it ever constitutes me fantastically happy.

I firstly saw this image when I was a photographers deputy in the West End of London. I used to visit Adrian Ensor, the printer in Fitzrovia who used to etch 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 might know the girl depicted. Its that various kinds of elegance and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an artist 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 persona ever interests me just 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 peak 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 take place within 2015 was on the front comprise of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised gambler, potting Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the dance would invent quietly back to black. Instead, the economic austerity measures that drove the UK deeper and deeper into the ruby-red made certain that the play itself would end on ruby-red. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian brain of the Tory party thrilled they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island territory. And those cheap forgeries, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, thrilling to an outcome that would work in the service of their personal ambition.

That repelling darknes, 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 classy sons out of touch with the miseries their policies had functioned. No plan for what would happen next. Cameron resigned. I expect he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not walk away to shape 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. Abruptly there was a chance for the little people to spin the pedal. No one told them that once again they could only lose.

The final escapade 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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