IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

In praise of I, Daniel Blake

07 February, 2020

Dave Johns in the lead role of the powerful film by Ken Loach, which was reviewed by Dan Carrier in the Tribune of October 21 2016

“I WENT to the pictures with some pensioners who all belong to the Islington Pensioners’ Forum”, writes Joe Hagland.

“We saw this great film – I, Daniel Blake, so I decided to do a short piece about it, simply because there might be people who did not understand about these Bad Old Days and the torment that some people suffered”.

• I, DANIEL BLAKE – what a great film! The story of this working man brought a light on the facts of our society today and also for many of us threw a light back on days past.

Daniel, a skilled carpenter with heart trouble, find himself out of work, and so comes up agains “Big Brother” (the state bureaucracy) when he tries his hardest to find work.

Daniel has no experience of IT – but he must use the computer to fill in forms and write a CV. He goes to the library and, sitting among others using the computers, asks some young people to help him. But his time on the computer is up before he completes the task.

Finally he gets the forms printed by the young man living next door to him, but even that is not good enough for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)! “Hard copy is no good – everything must be accessible online!”

This film portrays the exceptional power used against honest people – leading some to thinking of taking their own life.

People are not only knocked down, but given an extra knock to keep them down! Daniel is thrown out of the DWP office when he sticks up for a young woman with two children, who also has problems.

The depression Daniel experienced must have been enormous, and being knocked down time and again by those in power eventually pushes him to writing on the wall of the DWP office: “I, Daniel Blake demand that my appeal…”

Eventually, but not before he has sold his furniture for £200, he is granted an appeal hearing and the young woman who he has befriended goes with him. But all the pressure has badly affected his heart condition… the agony is finally over!

For me, the moral of this story is that we should all stand our own ground, support others and be constructive in our views of the past and the present.

JOE HAGLAND

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