Belonging: the truth behind the headlines is a broad and objective look at one of the UK’s most controversial questions, namely, where the true seat of power really lies in the UK. 

It’s no secret to most humans populating this overwhelmingly messed up planet that large corporations place profit and generally gross, selfish need over anything else. When the ‘little’ people; individuals simply wanting to work for a living and be left alone are pitted against them, utter catastrophe can descend. These draconian working practices litter Director/ Producer, Morag Livingstone’s documentary, Belonging: The Truth Behind the Headlines with focus mainly on that of Trade Unions; how they work, what they do and the support they provide. It’s not harrowing, nor is it a cosy ‘wind down’ watch after a long week but it is hugely informative (how much depends on your personal circumstance and reasons for viewing in the first place). It is also frustrating enough to force your hand/ head through a table then immediately regret it due to the splinter. Ouch.

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse”, a quote by Edmund Burke, Philosophical Founder of Modern Conservatism immediately opens the documentary and whilst far from surprising news, it is still shocking to see how true it is. Livingstone briefly shows us how large companies such as Sports Direct have indeed abused employees (one-sided zero hour contracts, strip searches and sexual demands of supervisors) before plunging back to the 80s and Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of The Sun and News of The World, which headed nicely into Margaret Thatcher’s ‘reign of terror’ on the miners and working people. Belonging is full of very honest, very frank and frequently disturbing interviews of people unable to let go of the suffering they have endured. We hear about strikes that occurred after Murdoch’s sacking of newspaper staff, of the ‘brutal’ police force, described as being like “zulu warriors” but despite such unsettling testimony, Livingstone ensures this isn’t one-sided and we hear from the police themselves. This broad and objective look at one of the UK’s biggest events keeps the documentary increasingly interesting.

What is perhaps most enlightening here is the inspiring efforts of Trade Unions; their continued support of working people, both young and old and standing in the face of obliterating adversity. We’re very aware now of the power of the media and that is strikingly clear in Belonging. The start of Murdoch’s manipulation of not only the general public but government too (Livingstone found evidence to say he ‘played’ Thatcher and subsequently got out of a lot of sticky situations. How?) has left a depressing legacy that we are still seeing in the UK. Such tabloid fodder has terrifying implications. Trade Unions were demonised, their context lost, members left with nothing. It’s fortunate that now, despite this and other countries feeling like they’re on the brink of destruction, many of us are aware enough to read between the lines and have other sources with which to read the news and find other valuable pieces of information.

Belonging can sometimes feel heavy with jargon but ultimately it is an incredibly revealing watch. As we head closer and closer to the privatisation of services we can’t help but take for granted in the UK, it’s valuable to be equipped with as much information as possible and to take some inspiring advice from those that have actually made a difference.

★★★☆☆

Belonging is screening now. Click here to find out more.