Face-sitting protest outside parliament against new porn rules

Sex workers and campaigners gather to demonstrate opposition to changes to UK pornography regulations

Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.

Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions ludicrous and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.

Protesters say the list of banned activities includes face-sitting, and campaigners planned to carry out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song Sit On My Face.

These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware, Charlotte Rose said. Theyve done this without public knowledge and without public consent.

There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but its not just about sexism, its about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions.

Face-sitting
Protesters outside parliament. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The protest comes after the government said a list of sex acts has been banned from online porn videos filmed in the UK, in a bid to crack down on harmful content.

A quiet change in legislation has ruled that paid-for online porn videos must now adhere to the same rules as content produced for sex shop-type videos.

It means acts that would not be classified as an R18 rating, in line with guidelines laid out by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), are prohibited.

The list of around 10 acts reportedly range from spanking to strangulation.

Critics argue the change not only damages the countrys porn industry, with online viewers still able to access content banned in the UK by watching videos filmed abroad, but amounts to arbitrary censorship.

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2014 came into effect this month.

Mistress Absolute, 39, a professional dominatrix and fetish promoter, said the law was restrictive.

I felt that this was the beginning of something to creep into my sexual freedom and sexual preferences.

This is a gateway to other laws being snuck in.

Face-sitting
Protesters outside parliament. Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Rex Features

Her friend Neil Rushton, 33, a mature student, said: Theyre very sexist laws. These are very geared towards womens enjoyment as opposed to mens.

The pair will take part in the mass face-sitting this afternoon.

Justin Hancock, a sex educator who runs the website Bish UK, said: Often the same filters that block these websites block my website, so I suffer from the same kind of censorship issues that the porn industry does.

This particular regulation will not prevent one person from seeing any porn that they cant already see elsewhere anyway.

Them using the argument around sex and young people is completely specious.

Its moralising. Its about saying as a society what kind of sex is okay.

Hancock also warned that the state is trying to take control of the internet.

Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Jerry Barnett from Sex and Censorship and Jane Fae from the Consenting Adult Action Network were among those making speeches at the protest.

Fae called the changes heteronormative, and said: What is being clamped down on is any kind of online content made by adults who are consenting.

This is entrenching big business.

Protesters chanted: What do we want? Face-sitting! When do we want it? Now!

Participants wearing gimp masks used mats and blankets to act out face-sitting.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/dec/12/face-sitting-protest-outside-parliament-against-new-porn-rules

How Paul Robeson found his political voice in the Welsh valleys

African American star Robeson built his singing career in the teeth of racism in the early 1900s. But his radicalism was spurred on in Britain by a chance meeting with a group of Welsh miners

Paul Robeson possessed one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century. He was an acclaimed stage actor. He could sing in more than 20 different languages; he held a law degree; he won prizes for oratory. He was widely acknowledged as the greatest American footballer of his generation. But he was also a political activist, who, in the 1930s and 1940s, exerted an influence comparable to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in a later era.

The son of an escaped slave, Robeson built his career despite the segregation of the Jim Crow laws basically, an American apartheid system that controlled every aspect of African American life. He came to London with his wife Eslanda known as Essie partly to escape the crushing racism of his homeland. Yet later in life he always insisted that he became a radical as much because of his experiences in Britain as in America. In particular, he developed a deep bond with the labour movement particularly with the miners of Wales. That was why, in 2016, I travelled from my home in Australia to visit the landscape that shaped Robesons politics.

Pontypridd was a village carved out of stone. Grey terraced cottages, grey cobbled streets, and an ancient grey bridge arching across the River Taff.

The sky was slate, too, a stark contrast with the surrounding hills, which were streaked with seasonal russet, teal and laurel.

I was accustomed to towns that sprawled, as white settlers stretched themselves out to occupy a newly colonised land. Pontypridd, I realised, huddled. Its pubs and churches and old-fashioned stores were clutched tightly in the valley, in a cosy snugness that left me feeling a long way from home. Id come here to see Beverley Humphreys, a singer and the host of Beverleys World of Music on BBC Wales.

I have a strong feeling that we might meet in October! shed written, when Id emailed her about the Paul Robeson exhibition she was organising. I know from personal experience that once you start delving into Paul Robesons life, he just wont leave you alone.

In that correspondence, shed described Pontypridd as the ideal place to grasp Pauls rich relationship with Wales and its people. I knew that, in the winter of 1929, Paul had been returning from a matinee performance of Show Boat [in London] when he heard male voices wafting from the street. He stopped, startled by the perfect harmonisation and then by the realisation that the singers, when they came into view, were working men, carrying protest banners as they sang.

By accident, hed encountered a party of Welsh miners from the Rhondda valley. They were stragglers from the great working-class army routed during what the poet Idris Davies called the summer of soups and speeches the general strike of 1926. Blacklisted by their employers after the unions defeat, they had walked all the way to London searching for ways to feed their families. By then, Robesons stardom and wealth were sufficient to insulate him from the immiseration facing many British workers, as the industrialised world sank into the economic downturn known as the Great Depression.

Singing
Singing with a choir in a scene from The Proud Valley. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Yet he remembered his fathers dependence on charity, and he was temperamentally sympathetic to the underdog. Without hesitation, he joined the march.

Some 50 years later, [his son] Pauli Robeson visited the Talygarn Miners Rehabilitation Centre and met an elderly man whod been present on that day in 1929. The old miner talked of how stunned the marchers had been when Robeson attached himself to their procession: a huge African American stranger in formal attire incongruous next to the half-starved Welshmen in their rough-hewn clothes and mining boots.

But Robeson had a talent for friendship, and the men were grateful for his support. He had remained with the protest until they stopped outside a city building, and then he leaped on to the stone steps to sing Ol Man River and a selection of spirituals chosen to entertain his new comrades but also because sorrow songs, with their blend of pain and hope, expressed emotions that he thought desperate men far from home might be feeling.

Afterwards, he gave a donation so the miners could ride the train back to Wales, in a carriage crammed with clothing and food.

That was how it began. Before the year was out, hed contributed the proceeds of a concert to the Welsh miners relief fund; on his subsequent tour, he sang for the men and their families in Cardiff, Neath, and Aberdare, and visited the Talygarn miners rest home in Pontyclun.

From then on, his ties with Wales only grew.

Robeson remained [living] in Buckingham Street, London. He and Essie maintained a public profile as a celebrity couple, still mixing easily with polite society and the intelligentsia. But Robeson was now aware of the labour movement, and began to pay attention to its victories and defeats. His frequent visits to mining towns in Wales were part of that newfound political orientation.

You can see why hes remembered around here, Humphreys said. He was so famous when he made those connections, and the Welsh mining community was so very cowed. In the wake of the general strike, people felt pretty hopeless.

A Robeson exhibition opened in Pontypridd in October 2015 and was an echo of a much grander presentation from 2001, which Humphreys had assembled with Hywel Francis, then Labour MP for Aberavon, and Paul Robeson Jr [Robesons son died in 2014]. It was first shown at the National Museum in Cardiff and then toured the country.

Staging that event had been a revelation for Humphreys. Shed known that memories of Robeson ran deep in Wales, but shed still been astonished by the response. Every day of the exhibit, people shared their recollections, speaking with a hushed fervour about encounters with Paul that had stayed with them for ever.

Robeson
Robeson at Waterloo Station in London in 1935. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Pauls interactions with Wales were shaped by the violence of mining life: the everyday hardship of long hours and low wages, but also the sudden spectacular catastrophes that decimated communities. In 1934, hed been performing in Caernarfon when news arrived of a disaster in the Gresford colliery. The mine there had caught fire, creating an inferno so intense that most of the 266 men who died underground, in darkness and smoke, were never brought to the surface for burial. At once, Robeson offered his fees for the Caernarfon concert to the fund established for the orphans and children of the dead an important donation materially, but far more meaningful as a moral and political gesture.

That was part, Humphreys said, of why Wales remembered him. He was by then among the most famous stars of the day, the recording artist whose songs many hummed, and yet he was showing an impoverished and struggling community people who felt themselves isolated and abandoned that he cared deeply about them.

And the continuing affection for Robeson was more than a recollection of generosity. The Welsh sensed the relationship was reciprocal, said Humphreys. That he was deriving something from their friendships, from seeing how people in the mining communities supported one another and cared for one another. He later said he learned more from the white working class in Wales than from anyone..

Certainly, Robeson discovered Wales and the British working class in general at just the right time. Hed signed up, with great hopes, for a film version of [Eugene ONeills play] The Emperor Jones in 1933 the first commercial film with a black man in the lead. But the process played out according to a familiar and dispiriting pattern. Robesons contract stipulated that, during his return to America, he wouldnt be asked to film in Jim Crow states. Star or not, it was impossible to be shielded from institutional racism. At the end of his stay, as he arrived at a swanky New York function, he was directed to the servants entrance rather than the elevator. One witness said he had to be dissuaded from punching out the doorman, in a manifestation of anger hed never have revealed in the past.

The Emperor Jones itself was still very much shaped by conservative sensibilities: among other humiliations, the studio darkened the skin of his co-star, lest audiences thought Robeson was kissing a white woman. Not surprisingly, while white critics loved the film and Robesons performance, he was again attacked in the African American press for presenting a demeaning stereotype.

A few years earlier, he might have found refuge in London from the impossible dilemmas confronting a black artist in America. But hed learned to see respectable England as disconcertingly similar, albeit with its prejudices expressed through nicely graduated hierarchies of social class. To friends, he spoke of his dismay at how the British upper orders related to those below them. He was ready, both intellectually and emotionally, for the encounter with the Welsh labour movement.

There was just something, Humphreys said, that drew Welsh people and Paul Robeson together. I think it was like a love affair, in a way. And that seemed entirely right.

In
In the 1940 film The Proud Valley, about a Welsh community that takes in a black unemployed seaman. Photograph: Getty Images

The next morning, Humphreys and I walked down the hill, beneath a sky that warned constantly of rain. We made our way to St Davids Uniting Church on Gelliwastad Road. From the outside, it seemed like a typically stern embodiment of Victorian religiosity: a grey, rather grim legacy of the 1880s.

Inside, though, the traditional church interior the pews, the pulpit, the altar was supplemented by a huge banner from the Abercrave lodge of the National Union of Mineworkers, hanging just below the stained-glass windows. Workers of the world unite for peace and socialism, it proclaimed, with an image of a black miner holding a lamp out to his white comrade in front of a globe of the world.

The walls held huge photos of Paul Robeson: in his football helmet on the field at Rutgers [University]; on a concert stage, his mouth open in song; marching on a picket line. These were the displays extracted from the 2001 exhibition.

We chatted with parishioners, who were taking turns to keep the Robeson display open during the day for black history month.

The service itself reminded me of my morning in the Witherspoon Street church, except that, while in Princeton [where Robeson was born] Id marvelled at the worshippers command of the black vocal tradition, here I was confronted by the harmonic power of Welsh choristers: the old hymns voiced in a great wall of sound resonating and reverberating throughout the interior.

Robeson, of course, had made that comparison many times. Both the Wesleyan chapels of the Welsh miners and the churches in which hed worshipped with his father were, he said, places where a weary and oppressed people drew succour from prayer and song.

His movie The Proud Valley (released as The Tunnel in the US), which had brought him to Pontypridd in 1939, rested on precisely that conceit. In the film (the only one of his movies in which he took much pride), Robeson played David Goliath, an unemployed seaman who wanders into the Welsh valley and is embraced by the miners when the choir leader hears him sing.

Throughout the 1930s, the analogy between African Americans and workers in Britain (and especially Wales) helped reorient Robeson, both aesthetically and politically, after his disillusionment with the English establishment.

His contact with working-class communities in Britain provided him with an important reassurance. He told his friend Marie Seton about a letter he received from a cotton-spinner during one of his tours. This man said he understood my singing, for while my father was working as a slave, his own father was working as a wage slave in the mills of Manchester.

That was in northern England, but he experienced a similar commonality everywhere, and it pleased and intrigued him. If the slave songs of the US were worth celebrating, what about the music emerging from other oppressed communities? What connections might the exploration of distinctive cultural traditions forge between different peoples?

Significantly, it was in Wales where Robeson first articulated this new perspective. In 1934, he gave a concert in Wrexham, in north Wales, between the Welsh mountains and the lower Dee valley alongside the border with England. Yet again it was a charity performance, staged at the Majestic Cinema for the benefit of the St John Ambulance Association.

During the visit, Robeson was interviewed by the local paper, and he told the writer he was no longer wedded to a classical repertoire. Hed come to regard himself as a folk singer, devoted to what he called the eternal music of common humanity. To that end, he was studying languages, working his way haphazardly through Russian, German, French, Dutch, Hungarian, Turkish, Hebrew, and sundry other tongues so as to perform the songs of different cultures in the tongues in which they had been written. He had become, he said, a singer for the people.

Movie
Movie star: Robeson, right, with Sir Cedric Hardwicke in the 1937 film King Solomons Mines. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

The confidence of that statement reflected another lesson drawn primarily from Wales. In African American life, the black church had mattered so much because religion provided almost the only institutional stability for people buffeted by racial oppression. In particular, because Jim Crow segregated the workplace, black communities struggled to form and maintain trade unions. Wales, though, was different. The miners found consolation in religion, with every village dotted with chapels. But they believed just as fervently in trade unionism.

The Gresford disaster showed why. In an industry such as mining, you relied on your workmates both to get the job done safely and to stand up for your rights. The battle was necessarily collective. A single miner possessed no power at all; the miners as a whole, however, could shut down the entire nation, as theyd demonstrated in 1926.

In particular, the cooperation mandated by modern industry might, at least in theory, break down the prejudices that divided workers even, perhaps, the stigma attached to race. That was the point Robeson dramatised in The Proud Valley, a film in which the solidarity of the workplace overcomes the miners suspicion about a dark-skinned stranger. Arent we all black down that pit? asks one of the men.

Its from the miners in Wales, Robeson explained, [that] I first understood the struggle of Negro and white together.

To understand Pauls relationship with Wales, Humphreys told me the following day, you need to understand Tiger Bay.

She introduced me to Lesley Clarke and to Harry Ernest and his son Ian. The three of them came from Tiger Bay, the centre of Waless black community. Theyd worked on the original exhibition in Cardiff, after Humphreys had insisted that the National Gallery employ black guides, and now theyd come to Pontypridd to witness the new display.

At 82, Lesley Clarke was thin but sprightly and alert. She spoke slowly and carefully. I hadnt realised there was a colour bar until I left Tiger Bay. When I went to grammar school, I realised for the first time that there were people who just didnt like coloured people. Didnt know anything about us, but didnt like us. I didnt know I was poor and I didnt know I was black: all I knew was that I was me.

Tiger Bay was forged by some of the worst racial attacks in British history. In June 1919, returning soldiers encountered a group of black men walking with white women. Outraged, the troops, led by colonials (mostly Australians), rampaged throughout Butetown, attacking people of colour, destroying houses, and leaving four dead.

For Clarke and Ernests generation, the colour bar was very real, especially in employment. Ernest was impish and bald, and his eyes crinkled as he spoke, almost as if he took a perverse humour in the recollection. Wed ask if a job was open, he said, and soon as they said yes, wed say, Can I come for an interview right now? To narrow the gap, because the minute you got there they would say, Oh, the job is gone.

The minute they saw you were black, that was it, said Clarke. You just took it for granted that it was going to happen. There were very few outlets, especially for girls. You either worked in the brush factory or you worked in Ziggys, selling rags and whatnot, or there was a place just over the bridge that did uniforms.

I worked in the brush factory for a while, Ernest said. Oh, Jesus!

He shook his head and laughed in dismay. Jesus.

Addressing
Addressing the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Ebbw Vale, 1958.

Robeson had reached out to the Welsh miners when his career was at its height. They came back to him at his lowest ebb, almost two decades later, at a time when all hed achieved seemed to have been taken from him. In the midst of the cold war, the FBI prevented Robeson from performing at home. [Hed proclaimed his sympathy for the Soviet Union ever since the mid-30s. That leftism now made him a target. He became, in Pete Seegers words, the most blacklisted performer in America, effectively silenced in his home country,] Worse still, the US state department confiscated his passport, so he could not travel abroad. He was left in a kind of limbo: silenced, isolated, and increasingly despairing.

On 5 October 1957, the Porthcawl Grand Pavilion filled with perhaps 5,000 people for the miners eisteddfod. Will Painter, the union leader, took to the microphone. After welcoming the delegates, he announced that they would soon hear from Paul Robeson, whod be joining them via a transatlantic telephone line.

When Painter spoke again, he was addressing Robeson directly. We are happy that it has been possible for us to arrange that you speak and sing to us today, he said. We would be far happier if you were with us in person.

Miraculously, Robesons deep voice crackled out of the speakers in response. My warmest greetings to the people of my beloved Wales, and a special hello to the miners of south Wales at your great festival. It is a privilege to be participating in this historic festival.

He was seated in a studio in New York. Down the telephone line, he performed a selection of his songs, dedicating them to their joint struggle for what he called a world where we can live abundant and dignified lives.

The musical reply came from the mighty Treorchy Male Choir, the winners of that years eisteddfod, and a group that traces its history back to 1883. Robeson joined the choir in a performance of the Welsh national anthem, Land of My Fathers, before the entire audience all 5,000 of them serenaded him with Well Keep a Welcome. This land you knew will still be singing, they chorused. When you come home again to Wales.

This is an edited extract from No Way But This by Jeff Sparrow, published by Scribe (14.99). To order a copy for 12.74 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/02/how-paul-robeson-found-political-voice-in-welsh-valleys

Tim Pigott-Smith obituary

Stage and screen actor best known for his role in the TV series The Jewel in the Crown

The only unexpected thing about the wonderful actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who has died aged 70, was that he never played Iago or, indeed, Richard III. Having marked out a special line in sadistic villainy as Ronald Merrick in his career-defining, Bafta award-winning performance in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Granada TVs adaptation for ITV of Paul Scotts Raj Quartet novels, he built a portfolio of characters both good and bad who were invariably presented with layers of technical accomplishment and emotional complexity.

Tim
Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III at the Almeida theatre in 2014. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

He emerged as a genuine leading actor in Shakespeare, contemporary plays by Michael Frayn in Frayns Benefactors (1984) he was a malicious, Iago-like journalist undermining a neighbouring college chums ambitions as an architect and Stephen Poliakoff, American classics by Eugene ONeill and Edward Albee, and as a go-to screen embodiment of high-ranking police officers and politicians, usually served with a twist of lemon and a side order of menace and sarcasm.

He played a highly respectable King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011, but that performance was eclipsed, three years later, by his subtle, affecting and principled turn in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III (soon to be seen in a television version) at the Almeida, in the West End and on Broadway, for which he received nominations in both the Olivier and Tony awards. The play, written in Shakespearean iambics, was set in a futuristic limbo, before the coronation, when Charles refuses to grant his royal assent to a Labour prime ministers press regulation bill.

The interregnum cliffhanger quality to the show was ideal for Pigott-Smiths ability to simultaneously project the spine and the jelly of a character, and he brilliantly suggested an accurate portrait of the future king without cheapening his portrayal of him. Although not primarily a physical actor, like Laurence Olivier, he was aware of his attributes, once saying that the camera does something to my eyes, particularly on my left side in profile, something to do with the eye being quite low and being able to see some white underneath the pupil. It was this physical accident, not necessarily any skill, he modestly maintained, which gave him a menacing look on film and television, as if I am thinking more than one thing.

Born in Rugby, Tim was the only child of Harry Pigott-Smith, a journalist, and his wife Margaret (nee Goodman), a keen amateur actor, and was educated at Wyggeston boys school in Leicester and when his father was appointed to the editorship of the Herald in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1962 King Edward VI grammar school, where Shakespeare was a pupil. Attending the Royal Shakespeare theatre, he was transfixed by John Barton and Peter Halls Wars of the Roses production, and the actors: Peggy Ashcroft, with whom he would one day appear in The Jewel in the Crown, Ian Holm and David Warner. He took a parttime job in the RSCs paint shop.

At Bristol University he gained a degree in English, French and drama (1967), and at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school he graduated from the training course (1969) alongside Jeremy Irons and Christopher Biggins as acting stage managers in the Bristol Old Vic company. He joined the Prospect touring company as Balthazar in Much Ado with John Neville and Sylvia Syms and then as the Player King and, later, Laertes to Ian McKellens febrile Hamlet. Back with the RSC he played Posthumus in Bartons fine 1974 production of Cymbeline and Dr Watson in William Gillettes Sherlock Holmes, opposite John Woods definitive detective, at the Aldwych and on Broadway. He further established himself in repertory at Birmingham, Cambridge and Nottingham.

Tim
Tim Pigott-Smith as the avuncular businessman Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles Enron at the Minerva theatre, Chichester, in 2009. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

He was busy in television from 1970, appearing in two Doctor Who sagas, The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976), as well as in the first of the BBCs adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskells North and South (1975, as Frederick Hale; in the second, in 2004, he played Hales father, Richard). His first films were Jack Golds Aces High (1976), adapted by Howard Barker from RC Sherriffs Journeys End, and Tony Richardsons Joseph Andrews (1977). His first Shakespeare leads were in the BBCs Shakespeare series Angelo in Measure for Measure and Hotspur in Henry IV Part One (both 1979).

A long association with Hall began at the National Theatre in 1987, when he played a coruscating half-hour interrogation scene with Maggie Smith in Halls production of Coming in to Land by Poliakoff; he was a Dostoeyvskyan immigration officer, Smith a desperate, and despairing, Polish immigrant. In Halls farewell season of Shakespeares late romances in 1988, he led the company alongside Michael Bryant and Eileen Atkins, playing a clenched and possessed Leontes in The Winters Tale; an Italianate, jesting Iachimo in Cymbeline; and a gloriously drunken Trinculo in The Tempest (he played Prospero for Adrian Noble at the Theatre Royal, Bath, in 2012).

The Falstaff on television when he played Hotspur was Anthony Quayle, and he succeeded this great actor, whom he much admired as director of the touring Compass Theatre in 1989, playing Brutus in Julius Caesar and Salieri in Peter Shaffers Amadeus. When the Arts Council cut funding to Compass, he extended his rogues gallery with a sulphurous Rochester in Fay Weldons adaptation of Jane Eyre, on tour and at the Playhouse, in a phantasmagorical production by Helena Kaut-Howson, with Alexandra Mathie as Jane (1993); and, back at the NT, as a magnificent, treacherous Leicester in Howard Davies remarkable revival of Schillers Mary Stuart (1996) with Isabelle Huppert as a sensual Mary and Anna Massey a bitterly prim Elizabeth.

In that same National season, he teamed with Simon Callow (as Face) and Josie Lawrence (as Doll Common) in a co-production by Bill Alexander for the Birmingham Rep of Ben Jonsons trickstering, two-faced masterpiece The Alchemist; he was a comically pious Subtle in sackcloth and sandals. He pulled himself together as a wryly observant Larry Slade in one of the landmark productions of the past 20 years: ONeills The Iceman Cometh at the Almeida in 1998, transferring to the Old Vic, and to Broadway, with Kevin Spacey as the salesman Hickey revisiting the last chance saloon where Pigott-Smith propped up the bar with Rupert Graves, Mark Strong and Clarke Peters in Davies great production.

He and Davies combined again, with Helen Mirren and Eve Best, in a monumental NT revival (designed by Bob Crowley) of ONeills epic Mourning Becomes Electra in 2003. Pigott-Smith recycled his ersatz Agamemnon role of the returning civil war hero, Ezra Mannon, as the real Agamemnon, fiercely sarcastic while measuring a dollop of decency against weasel expediency, in Euripides Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004. In complete contrast, his controlled but hilarious Bishop of Lax in Douglas Hodges 2006 revival of Philip Kings See How They Run at the Duchess suggested he had done far too little outright comedy in his career.

Tim
Tim Pigott-Smith as King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Television roles after The Jewel in the Crown included the titular chief constable, John Stafford, in The Chief (1990-93) and the much sleazier chief inspector Frank Vickers in The Vice (2001-03). On film, he showed up in The Remains of the Day (1993); Paul Greengrasss Bloody Sunday (2002), a harrowing documentary reconstruction of the protest and massacre in Derry in 1972; as Pegasus, head of MI7, in Rowan Atkinsons Johnny English (2003) and the foreign secretary in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008).

In the last decade of his life he achieved an amazing roster of stage performances, including a superb Henry Higgins, directed by Hall, in Pygmalion (2008); the avuncular, golf-loving entrepreneur Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles extraordinary Enron (2009), a play that proved there was no business like big business; the placatory Tobias, opposite Penelope Wilton, in Albees A Delicate Balance at the Almeida in 2011; and the humiliated George, opposite his Hecuba, Clare Higgins, in Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf, at Bath.

At the start of this year he was appointed OBE. His last television appearance came as Mr Sniggs, the junior dean of Scone College, in Evelyn Waughs Decline and Fall, starring Jack Whitehall. He had been due to open as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in Northampton prior to a long tour.

Pigott-Smith was a keen sportsman, loved the countryside and wrote four short books, three of them for children.

In 1972 he married the actor Pamela Miles. She survives him, along with their son, Tom, a violinist, and two grandchildren, Imogen and Gabriel.

Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, actor, born 13 May 1946; died 7 April 2017

  • This article was amended on 10 April 2017. Tim Pigott-Smiths early performance as Balthazar in Much Ado About Nothing was with the Prospect touring company rather than with the Bristol Old Vic.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/apr/09/tim-pigott-smith-obituary

The destruction of Hillary Clinton: sexism, Sanders, and the millennial feminists | Susan Bordo

In this extract from her book, Susan Bordo asks how the most qualified candidate ever to run for president lost the seemingly unloseable election

Many books have been written about the way racial differences among feminists both divided and pushed feminist thinking and practice forward over the past several decades. In the 2016 election, however, it was not race but generation that was the dynamic factor among left-leaning women. Women like me, who experienced many cultural battles in the gender wars firsthand from the first scornful comments that journalists had heaped on womens libbers, to the public shaming of Anita Hill, to the renewed threats to bodily rights that we thought we had won decades earlier brought to the 2016 campaign a personal knowledge of the fragility of feminist accomplishments and an identification with Hillary that was deeper and longer than any current headlines.

We may have winced as I did when Madeleine Albright quoted a coffee-cup version of feminism or Hillary said deal me in. But we understood that behind every seeming appeal to sisterhood was the history of what was indeed a revolution and one that was far from over. We knew the role Hillary had played in that revolution, and the price she had paid for it. Many of us, too, had followed Clinton through the course of her public career, had read her autobiography, and knew very well that the accusation that she had come to issues concerning racial and economic justice late and for political purposes was among the most extraordinary fabrications of the campaign.

Many younger women, on the other hand no less feminist, no less committed to gender equality had formed their ideas about the Clintons, as Savannah Barker reminds us, in the shadow of 20 years of relentless personal and political attacks. Few of them as I know from decades of teaching courses on feminism, gender issues, and the social movements of the 60s were aware of the living history (to borrow Hillarys phrase) that shaped the woman herself.

Former
Former US secretary of state Madeleine with Clinton at a campaign stop.
Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

These young women werent around when the GOP, appalled that liberals like the Clintons had somehow grabbed political power, began a series of witchhunts that have never ended. (Hillary was correct: it has been a vast rightwing conspiracy, from the Spectatormagazines Arkansas Project, designed specifically to take Bill Clinton down, to Kenneth Starrs relentless digging into Bills private life, to the Benghazi and email investigations.)

They hadnt experienced a decade of culture wars in which feminists efforts to bring histories of gender and race struggle into the educational curriculum were reduced to a species of political correctness. They didnt witness the complicated story of how the 1994 crime bill came to be passed or the origins of the super-predator label (not coined by Hillary and not referring to black youth, but rather to powerful, older drug dealers).

It isnt necessary, of course, to have firsthand knowledge of history in order to have an informed idea of events and issues. When it came to Hillary Clinton, however, sorting out fact from politically motivated fiction was a difficult task, particularly if ones knowledge was filtered through the medium of election-year battles.

The 2016 election was no academically rigorous history course; it was dominated by versions of Hillary Clinton constructed by her political opponents and transmitted by reporters who usually dont see offering context as their job and dont have the time (or, for some, the inclination) to sort fact from fiction. And then, too, after decades of harsh schooling in the ways of politics and the media, Hillary herself was no longer the outspoken feminist who chastised reporters when they questioned her life choices, but a cautious campaigner who measured her words with care.

I knew just what one of my graduate students meant when I asked her how millennial feminists saw Hillary and she said a white lady. A white woman herself, she wasnt referring to the colour of Hillarys skin, or even her racial politics, but rather what was perceived as her membership in the dominant class, all cleaned up and normalised, aligned with establishment power rather than the forces of resistance, and stylistically coded (her tightly coiffed hair; her neat, boring pantsuits; her circumspection) with her membership in that class. When I looked at Hillary, I saw someone very different but I understood the basis for my students perception.

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Hillary Clinton urges voters to combat Trump policies: ‘Resist, insist, persist and enlist’ video

Any rift between feminist generations, however, would almost certainly have been healed by Donald Trumps outrageous comments and behavior, had younger progressives not become bonded, during the primary, to a Democratic male hero who both supported the issues they were most passionate about and offered young women independence from the stale and, in their view, defunct feminist past. These young women werent going to rush to order a plastic woman card for a candidate that had been portrayed by their hero as a hack of the establishment. They didnt believe in sisterhood a relic of a time when, as they had been told (often in womens studies courses) privileged, white feminists clasped hands in imagined gender solidarity, ignoring racial injustice and the problems of the working class.

They didnt want to be dealt any cards at a bridge game organised by Gloria Steinem or Madeleine Albright or Hillary Clinton. They wanted Bernie Sanders.

Sanders brands Hillary as establishment

Before I go any further, let me put my own cards on the table. The destruction of Hillary Clinton, I firmly believe, while propelled by a perfect storm of sexism, partisan politics and media madness, was bookended by two immensely powerful assaults. One was the inappropriate, inaccurate and inflammatory interference in the general election by FBI director James Comey. The other occurred much earlier, during the primaries, but its consequences are felt even today. I know I will make some of my younger feminist colleagues (and other left leaners) furious, which was distressing to me then, and still is.

Clinton
Clinton and Sanders in the first official Democratic debate. He had said he was sick of hearing about the damned emails. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

These people, in so many ways, are my natural colleagues, and most are as upset as I am by Trumps victory. But they played a big role in the thin edge (not a landslide, as Trump would have us believe) that gave Trump the election. For while Trump supporters hooted and cheered for their candidate, forgiving him every lie, every crime, every bit of disgusting behaviour, too many young Democrats made it very clear (in newspaper and internet interviews, in polls, and in the mainstream media) that they were only voting for Hillary Clinton as the lesser of two evils, holding their noses, tears still streaming down their faces over the primary defeat of the person they felt truly deserved their votes. Some didnt vote at all. And as much as I am in agreement with many of his ideas, Bernie Sanders splintered and ultimately sabotaged the Democratic party not because he chose to run against Hillary Clinton, but because of howhe ran against her.

Sanders often boasted about the importance of the issues rather than individuals, of not playing dirty politics or running nasty ads in his campaign. And its certainly true that he didnt slime Hillary by bringing Bills sexual accusers forward or by recommending that she be put in jail, as Trump did. He also seemed, at the beginning of the primary season, to be refreshingly dismissive about the email scandal: Enough already about the damned emails! he shouted at the first debate, and I remember thinking Good man, Bernie! Way to go! But within months, taking advantage of justified frustration with politics as usual (a frustration more appropriately aimed at GOP stonewalling of Democratic legislation), Sanders was taking Hillary down in a different way: as an establishment tool and creature of Wall Street.

I think, frankly, he said in January, campaigning in New Hampshire, its hard to be a real progressive and to take on the establishment in a way that I think [it] has to be taken on, when you come as dependent as she has through her super PAC and in other ways on Wall Street and drug-company money.

Progressive. Its a term with a long, twisty history. In the 19th century, it was associated with those who argued for the moral cleansing of the nation. A century ago, both racist Southern Democrats and the founders of the NAACP claimed it for their purposes. The Communist party has described itself as progressive. By the time Sanders argued that Clinton was not a true progressive, the word was not very useful descriptively one can be progressive in some ways and not so progressive in others, and no politician that I know of has ever struck every progressive chord. Context matters, too. As Jonathan Cohn wrote, in May: If Sanders is the standard by which youre going to decide whether a politician is a progressive, then almost nobody from the Democratic party would qualify. Take Sanders out of the equation, and suddenly Clinton looks an awful lot like a mainstream progressive.

For Sanders supporters, however, progressive wasnt an ill-defined, historically malleable label, but rather a badge of honor, a magical talisman for those who considered themselves anti-establishment. It may have been a fallback identifier for pretty much anyone The Nationand its journalistic kin smiled upon (as Michael Kazin described it), but it was an identifier with a great deal of potency, particularly for a younger generation longing for lives organised around something other than job hunting. When Sanders denied that badge of honour to Clinton he wasnt distinguishing his agenda from hers (their positions on most issues were, in reality, pretty similar), he was excluding her from the company of the good and pure and in the process, limiting what counted as progressive causes, too. His list didnt include the struggle for reproductive rights or affordable child care. Nor, at the beginning of his campaign, was there much emphasis on racial justice.

***

As I watched Sanders enchant the crowds, it was something of a deja vu experience to see a charismatic male politician on stage telling women which issues are and arent progressive. Cultural histories of the 60s rarely acknowledge what a sexist decade it was. We imagine that breaking through the suburban 50s fantasy meant that old-fashioned gender roles and attitudes had been discarded. Far from it.

Supporter
Sanders supporter holds placard outside Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

In fact, in many ways the decade was more male-centric than the 50s; it just privileged a different sort of male. Those men loved having us as uninhibited sexual partners and helpers in their political protests, but they never let us forget who was in charge of creating the platforms or who belonged in the political spotlight.

Working in the south for voting rights, young activists such as Casey Hayden and Mary King had gained sophisticated organising experience and found strong female role models they could respect in the older black women who were such a central part of the civil rights movement. But by the mid-60s, as black nationalism, the student movement and antiwar protests moved to the centre of cultural prominence, white activist women found themselves both unwelcome within black identity politics and demoted within the other movements.

Charged with making coffee while the male politicos speechified, shouted down and humiliated for daring to bring up the issue of gender inequality during rallies and leftist gatherings, their early calls for sexual equality were seen as trivial, hormonally inspired, and counter-revolutionary. Inspired by the Black Panthers to look to their own oppression, women began to speak up about what came to be known as personal politics. But unlike the Panthers, women were told over and over that they had to subordinate their demands to larger causes in the interests of the movement. They found themselves simmering and stewing as boyfriends and husbands defined what was revolutionary, what was worthy, and what was progressive.

It was both an exhilarating and a frustrating time to be an activist woman. Some, like me, dropped out of the fight for a time. Others became more violently countercultural and joined the Weather Underground. Others still became leaders of the emerging womens movement. In 2016, however, many activists saw that movement as part of establishment politics and no longer requiring their revolutionary fervour. As one Sanders supporter wrote:

Yes, equal rights for women and minorities are critically important. To consider these ideals progressive, however, seems pass. At this point, its more fair to suggest they are traditional. Gender and civil rights and equality may remain under attack from the right, but these ideals are positively engrained in two generations of Americans. Progressive voters, at this stage in our young countrys political history, want to challenge corrupt systems. The prison-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, the financial-industrial complex, and the other lobbies that control our politicians and our government, for example.

Im fairly certain that Sanders himself doesnt see equal rights for women and minorities as so firmly inscribed in our culture as to be traditional or pass. Nonetheless, Sanders gave Clinton no credit for her longstanding progressivism in these areas, while identifying her with the corruption he was dedicated to cleaning up. Organising against the abuses that he made his signature causes was indeed a worthy progressive agenda. Portraying Clinton as the enemy of systemic change, on the other hand, was not only factually incorrect, but proved politically disastrous in the general election.

Sanders was the perfect vehicle to revive political passion both among the older left, revitalised by being on the side of the revolution again, and a younger generation who had yet to experience the sense of rightness, community, and belief in the possibility of radical change that nourished us in the 60s. Here was this guy who had lived through it all, who looked like a grandfather but spoke like a union organiser, who was making it seem possible again but in terms that spoke to the present, to their issues. He was fierce, he was uncompromising, and he wasnt afraid to call out clear enemies, which revolutions always need to rally around. Wall Street. Greed. Big Money. Super PACS. The establishment.

US
Donald Trump greets Clinton following his inauguration. Photograph: Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images

***

Initially, I liked Bernie Sanders a lot, and identified with him. In terms of class, geography, and religion, I actually have much more in common with him than I do with Hillary Clinton, whose background was solidly middle class, Methodist, and Midwestern. Sanders and I share the same immigrant, working-class Jewish roots. The neighborhood he grew up in in Brooklyn looked very much like the one Id grown up in in Newark, New Jersey. Although Sanders was a few years older than me, we had belonged to the same leftwing groups Sanders while in college, I while in high school. We even went to the same college University of Chicago and I sometimes wondered whether Id seen him on campus when I was a freshman and he a senior. As his campaign took off, and despite my support for Hillary, it made me smile to hear someone who sounded like he could have been a relative deliver speeches to mass audiences.

Sanderss branding of Hillary as establishment, however, seemed vastly unjust and corrosively divisive to me, especially when delivered to a generation that knew very little about her beyond what Bernie told them. Like progressive, establishment is a pretty meaningless term, particularly when lobbed at one Washington politician by another. Neither Sanders nor Clinton had been working outside the system.

Appearances to the contrary, Sanders was not a union organizer, but rather a longtime member of the Senate. And if Clinton had more support from the Democratic party, that was due in large part to the relationships she had cultivated over the years, working with others something Sanders was not particularly good at. Nonetheless, for weeks during the early months of the primary, I listened to 19-year-olds and media pundits alike lavish praise on Bernie Sanders for his bold, revolutionary message, and scorn Hillary for being a part of the establishment.

They described him as heart and her as head a bitter irony for those of us familiar with the long history of philosophical, religious, and medical diatribes disqualifying women from leadership positions on the basis of our less-disciplined emotions. He was seen as authentic in his progressivism while she was pushed to the left by political expediency as though a lifetime of fighting for equality and childrens rights meant nothing. He was the champion of the working class (conveniently ignoring that black and white women were members, and that their issues were also working class issues), but her longstanding commitments to universal health care, child care, paid sick leave, racial justice, the repeal of the Hyde amendment, and narrowing the wage gap between working men and women apparently evaporated because shed accepted well-paid invitations to speak at Goldman Sachs.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2017/apr/03/the-destruction-of-hillary-clinton-sexism-sanders-and-the-millennial-feminists

The Salesman wins best foreign language Oscar

Protest vote against Donald Trumps travel ban suspected to be partly behind Iranian director Asghar Farhadis surprise victory

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has won the best foreign language Oscar in Los Angeles, for a second time, for domestic drama The Salesman. Farhadi, 44, did not attend the ceremony because he said that the conditions that would be attached to a potential entry visa were unacceptable.

The director had originally planned to travel to Hollywood for the prize-giving to highlight the unjust circumstances that have arisen for the immigrants and travellers of several countries to the United States.

The surge in votes for his film was thought by some to be a registration by Oscar voters of a protest against Donald Trumps travel ban, which aimed to prevent people coming to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries. On Sunday evening in London, a free screening of The Salesman was introduced by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Until the ramifications of the ban for film-makers such as Farhadi became clear, Germanys Toni Erdmann had been the strong favourite to take the prize. The other nominees were Land of Mine (Denmark), Tanna (Australia) and A Man Called Ove (Sweden).

The Salesman premiered at Cannes last May, where it won best actor for Shahab Hosseini and best screenplay for Farhadi despite moderate notices from critics. The film follows a couple in Tehran involved in an amateur dramatic production of Arthur Millers The Salesman, who are forced to move apartments following an earthquake. But the flat into which they move has an unhappy history, compounded by an unwelcome intruder.

Farhadi won Irans first Oscar for his film A Separation in 2012. This second award puts him in an elite category of double-winners in the category, including Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman.

Irans first person in space, Anousheh Ansari, read out a statement from Farhadi at the podium: My absence is out of respect for the people of my country, and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/27/the-salesman-wins-best-foreign-language-oscar-asghar-farhadi

Paul Robeson’s songs and deeds light the way for the fight against Trump | Jeff Sparrow

The great American radical showed how ordinary people mattered more than stars a lesson todays celebrities could do with learning

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/feb/20/paul-robesons-songs-and-deeds-shine-a-light-for-the-fight-against-trump