Director Ken Loach unveils election manifesto in Soho squat
British director Ken Loach launched his leftist party's manifesto in a squat in Soho on Tuesday, warning of "huge anger and alienation" among voters ahead of the general election on May 7.
Loach said the venue -- in a once-seedy and increasingly expensive part of central London -- was chosen to draw attention to the difficulties faced by many Britons in finding affordable housing.
The award-winning filmmaker said that "the other parties base themselves on the idea of the market", while his Left Unity party stood against it.
"You only have to look around you to see that the market has failed.
"The market has failed to provide housing," the 78-year-old said.
The squatters occupy four floors of the building and they kept the door locked and window blinds closed during Loach's press conference -- apparently concerned about a possible imminent eviction.
The director, who often tackles social issues such as homelessness and workers' rights in his films, is best known for "Bread and Roses", "Sweet Sixteen" and "The Angels' Share" -- set in a whisky distillery.
Loach, who was joined by scriptwriter Paul Laverty, said that British trade unions needed to do more.
"They must defend full employment. They must defend real jobs. They must defend the rights of people at work so that they can oppose privatisation," he said.
He set up the Left Unity party in 2013.
Its 43-page manifesto said it was committed to expanding the welfare state -- a response to steep cuts in social benefits imposed by Prime Minister David Cameron's government to reduce the deficit.
"We advance alternative social and economic policies based on supporting public services and redistributing wealth," the manifesto said.
The tiny party will be putting forward 10 candidates, although Loach said he would not be among them.
Left Unity was co-founded in 2013 by Loach, a long-time member of the Labour party who left in the 1990s in the era of Tony Blair and New Labour.
© 2015 AFP