Thursday, 9 June 2016

Reg (2016)

Tony Blair is a lying, cheating cunt of a war criminal with blood on his hands.

I marched against the Iraq War and I left the Labour Party because of it. Like Hillsborough and Orgreave, I have hoped and prayed that one day the families of those soldiers who gave their lives during that unjust and illegal war receive the justice they deserve. Next month sees the findings of the Chilcot Report (with the families of the deceased expected to shell out £767 for a copy of their report - words literally fail me here) but, given that it took the Hillsborough campaigners 27 years to receive the justice they fought so hard for and that the miners at Orgreave are still fighting 32 years on, I must admit to having misgivings at the notion that a 7 year-long report will truly get to the bottom of things.

But, as we wait for its findings to be published, Jimmy McGovern gave us this hard-hitting timely reminder of Blair's true colours. Reg tells the true story of Reg Keys, a former paramedic and ambulance driver, whose son Tom was one of six severely under equipped military policemen killed by a heavily armed mob at an Iraqi police station in 2003. Wracked with a grief that ultimately turns to anger when he learns that Blair took the country to war on the WMD lie, Reg decides to fight the PM at his own game, and stand against him in his own constituency of Sedgefield in the general election.

This was an effortless and understated film from McGovern. It may be fuelled by rage and anger at injustice, but he avoided the polemical to instead simply present the facts to the viewer in a clear, reasoned and skillful manner. At its heart lay an honest and strong central performance from Tim Roth as Reg Keys, nailing the man's unassuming nature, impeccable manners and quiet dignity to give us the essence of a genuine person, rather than a TV character; an ordinary man who happens to be capable of the extraordinary, thanks to his principles. Granted a single purpose - the dogged pursuit of the truth - Reg becomes David to Blair's Goliath and, in turn, an old fashioned, idealistic hero who immediately gains our empathy and support. He's ably matched by Anna Maxwell Martin as his wife Sally whose decline following her bereavement is deeply affecting and as quietly brilliant as we have come to expect from her.

Reg Keys has his say and a squirming Tony Blair faces the music

Reg is full of excellent scenes, from the heartbreaking and unflinching moment that Reg views his son's body in the coffin, examining the fatal wounds with unnerving flashbacks that show them being inflicted, the vignettes of Reg and Ralph Brown as his campaign manager canvassing Sedgefield (these scenes were filmed in Prescot, just up the road from me) illicit both for and against views on the situation (the one where an elderly woman announces that she feels responsible for all the deaths in Iraq because she voted for Blair is especially striking) but perhaps best of all is the finale scene which splices Roth into the real life footage from the Sedgefield counting office once the results have been given. The real reactions of Tony Blair as he had to stand there and listen to Reg, the man he had until then avoided at every turn, shows how much Reg Keys had him on the ropes and as a viewer there's great satisfaction in seeing the great discomfort on the then PM's face.

The real Reg Keys posing with Tim Roth
 in a Prescot pub I used to drink in!

Reg reminds us once more what an actor Blair was, it's really telling that they chose to introduce him with footage of him speaking to the Washington senate, one of the most hokiest, fawning and ingratiating pieces of acting Blair ever did. Blair wasn't a politician, he was a performer, and the ultimate leader for the style over substance generation. He spun lies that tarnished our nation and led to deaths and grieving families and even now, as he prepares his defence ahead of the report next month, he continues to spin his lies and pull the media's strings, claiming the present democratically elected Labour leader, the man I voted for and rejoined the party for, is 'a dangerous experiment' to be discredited at every turn.


  1. Great stuff I did not get to see it on Monday night, but its recorded and we are catching up tonight. I am looking forward to it, particularly as Blair is making himself public again, as like yesterday on the (oh, the irony) Peace Bridge in Derry, with that other yesterday man Major, as they try to spin the Referendum to their advantage.

  2. One of McGovern's greatest strengths as a dramatist is to
    be savagely political without declining into mere polemic. This is, I think, the transcendant examplar of that. Utterly involving, a tribute to it's protagonist, merciless to that Blair thing...