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Ken Loach

Ken Loach slams ‘callous’ treatment of child refugees

As he accepted the BAFTA for best British film, the I, Daniel Blake director took aim at the ‘disgraceful’ Tory government

Ken Loach has hit out at the British government for its “callous brutality” and “disgraceful” treatment of the most poor and vulnerable. The director pointed in particular to the current refugee crisis, and the decision to pull back in how many child refugees the UK will take in.

Accepting the award for best British film, the I, Daniel Blake creator used his speech to call out the current social and political framework. I, Daniel Blake is a stark, honest perspective on the benefits system, and Loach thanked the academy for “endorsing the truth of what his film says, which is that hundreds of thousands of people – the vulnerable and the poorest people – are treated by this government with a callousness and brutality that is disgraceful.”

Speaking of the news that the government is backing out of the promise to take in thousands of lone children from Syria and other countries seeking refuge, he said: “It’s a brutality. that extends to keeping out refugee children we promised to help.”

The Dubs scheme has been limited to just 350 children, whereas before it was believed to have been up to 3,000. A plea to expedite a high court legal challenge is in the works, and a petition of over 50,000 signatures against closing the scheme was handed in.

He added: “In the real world, it’s getting darker. And in the struggle that’s coming between the rich and the powerful, the corporations and the politicians that speak for them, and the rest of us on the other side, the film-makers know which side they’re on.”

Speaking at the press conference after the BAFTAs, Loach added that the current welfare policies recall that of the Victorian workhouse era, blaming people for their own poverty. He said: “They know what they’re doing. We have to change them – they have to be removed.”

Watch the full speech below.