Film Review: In the Name of the Father, 1993, Brexit and Toastmasters

In the lead up to St Patrick's Day and Brexit, it is a great time to catch up on Irish history with a little help from Hollywood. Having spent many years as an expat in the UK, my sympathies are with all those IT workers, especially contractors, who are struggling to plan for the future under the uncertainty. And let's not forget the British expats many of us interact with on a daily basis in so many other great European countries.

In the Name of the Father tells the story of the Guildford Four scapegoats.

It is a familiar plot. Too familiar.

IRA bombs are being planted in the mainland UK. The civilian deaths are tragic.

The British government gives almost unlimited powers to the security forces.

The security forces use their new powers to pick some Irish scapegoats and beat them. They'll do anything to find a snitch. Of course, any statement made under duress can't be taken seriously unless you've got an empire to run.

The authorities are selective in the information they release to the public and the court, hiding key evidence. Thanks to their power and control of the media cycle, the authorities turn public opinion against the Irish scapegoats. Even the judge is caught up in the hysteria, musing about capital punishment, a massively unjust outcome if it had transpired.

I don't want to spoil the story for those who want to watch the movie. Does the story sound familiar?

Even when new evidence presents itself, the people in uniforms remain stubborn in their own special way. They never cared about the truth, they only wanted a scapegoat. There is a special place in hell for those elements of the British elite who behave like this. One of the founders of our profession, Alan Turing, was also one of their victims and we can all be grateful to Scotsman Gordon Brown for giving an apology to Turing in 2009.

Today, as it becomes increasingly obvious that Brexit is going to be a bigger flop than Clement Attlee's infamous groundnut disaster, the British PM is falling back into the same pattern: find a scapegoat. Blame Dublin, blame Brussels, blame her opponent Mr Corbyn. As long as the public believes it, the truth doesn't matter.

This movie is highly recommended.

History repeating

At EPFL Toastmasters, Jane recently gave a talk about Northern Ireland and the Troubles and I was asked to evaluate her. Who thinks Jane would do a good job of leading the UK right now? Enjoy. You can find a Toastmasters club near you.

Jane's speech:

My evaluation: