Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
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.
Corbyn just won a prize for peace activism - so why is the Labour Party still committed to renewing trident? Lily Sheehan investigates.
Connor Devine writes that whilst Brexit might be a car crash, we can't just side with an institution responsible for enforcing austerity.
Michael Coates reviews a new film revealing the shocking state of housing inequality in the UK.
The vicious media campaign against trans people is part bigotry, part strategy, writes Roz Kaveney
Jon Trickett MP reports on 'Dickensian' levels of poverty and hardship felt across the UK.
Natasha King busts some myths around the No Borders debate
He was once a radical icon, but now he's a mouthpiece for racism and nationalism. Time to get off stage, writes Michael Calderbank
Consensus seems to have shifted, but austerity is far from over. The chancellor has committed us to yet more years of misery while the rich get richer, writes Richard Seymour.
Frustrated at the idea of another royal wedding? You're not alone. Joana Ramiro argues we should stop idealising a fundamentally undemocratic institution.
Liberal elites are using Russian interference to minimise their own political failures, writes Matt Turner
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny