Multiple perspectives

Marine Ices, by Tony Garnett, reviewed by Sheila Rowbotham

August 7, 2012
2 min read

An 18-year-old named Havana returns to England from the US to find out about her father, Tom, killed by the police during a left demonstration in the 1960s. She wants simply the truth. But as the plot unfolds she discovers several versions of the man who died: a political hero, an insouciant visionary, a man consumed by personal anger, a mean lover, a man who invited martyrdom.

In the search, Havana becomes deeply involved with her father’s best friend, Barry, who had loved her mother and carries a painful secret he is loathe to reveal.

Tony Garnett writes about love with a tenderness touched by gentle irony, moving between male and female characters with perceptive insight. Marine Ices can be read as a page-turning personal story, yet it also contains, concertina-like, other meanings.

Set initially in the 1980s, during the long and bitter miners’ strike, it backtracks to the 1960s and then fast-forwards to a Climate Camp in the 2000s. Havana’s father Tom had been a Trotskyist; her son Tom becomes an environmental activist. In showing how patterns are reproduced and repeated, Garnett explores how generations fail to communicate, both within families and in political movements. Applying his skills as a veteran communicator through popular films and TV dramas, Garnett eschews any overt message, weaving this closely into the storyline.

Rejecting the easy option of caricaturing intense political engagement, Garnett treats commitment with an unwavering respect. Yet equally he insists on space for questioning and intimates the need for a left politics that can look outwards from more than one perspective.

The plot of Marine Ices skilfully twists and turns, making you want to read on. But the tension that animates the book is really the question of whether it is possible for political conviction and humane comprehension to ride in tandem. Garnett does not tell us his own view, but the urgency of his quest to combine the two is crucial to Havana’s enquiry into her heritage.


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History


1