Editorial comment: Showdown at cinema like seeing Benn blast Labour
- Credit: Archant
To witness Phoenix staff member Nathan Cable tearing into the cinema’s board of trustees was like watching a Labour Party conference in the late 1970s.
There, Tony Benn would stand, tearing apart why Labour had lost in 1979, or the policies turned down by his party’s leadership, while the top table sat gloomy-faced just touching distance away.
And so it was on Sunday when, Benn-like, Mr Cable tore into the expressionless board.
“Why are we asking Curzon to take over the running of the cinemas when there is still time to turn things around by putting a fundraising strategy in place?” he asked.
“Why has there been almost no fundraising for the past four years? And why have the staff been actively preventing from fundraising on behalf of the Phoenix?”
The passion from Mr Cable at the lectern and the community on the floor was a stark contrast to James Kessler’s blasé approach.
But it was another re-run of a Bennite argument that seemed most pertinent. If the Phoenix needed to be handed over to a private chain to keep the lights on and to pay its debts, community involvement would ostensibly be gone. As one woman said: “We put our trust in you to run this cinema properly, not to give it away.”
- 1 'Gabriels stun Koko – superstardom seems inevitable'
- 2 Police probe reports of shooting at scene of crash in West Hampstead
- 3 St John's Wood prep school downgraded to 'requires improvement'
- 4 Three north London men charged after boxer Amir Khan ‘robbed at gunpoint’
- 5 Police search for witness who helped rape victim
- 6 Elton John rockets through career-spanning show at BST Hyde Park
- 7 Opening date confirmed for new Finchley Road Aldi
- 8 Herbie Hancock: Still going strong at 82
- 9 Jailed: 10 north London offenders put behind bars in May
- 10 Primrose Hill gates could close again due to antisocial behaviour
In a society that increasingly owns little, the community in north London has a strong sense of ownership over the Phoenix. To paraphrase former prime minister Harold MacMillan, it felt like the trustees were talking about “selling off the family silver”.
Much like anything handed over to private ownership, it leaves punters prone to price rises, poor performance and the whims of management, with no say about it. Mr Kessler’s reassurance of a break clause fell on deaf ears.
Many will be waiting with baited breath for the board’s decision. Its legacy won’t just affect the next few months, or years, but decades to come for the Phoenix.