The seed for me getting involved in this work was the TIDA 1935 film "Men Who Work" which we saw by accident when looking at the British Council Collection.
If you look at that film - it shows a day in the life of the factory, including the counting of the cash for the wage packets - it tells the rest of the world how British craftsmanship is the key to the success of the company.
If you then look for clips about Longbridge in the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) there are a few promotional items - "the 1 millionth Mini!"... "the 2 millionth Mini!" and then local news clips about layoffs and strikes with lots of vox pops about whether they agree with this or that.
This means that there's only one story being told again - the success or failure of the company, with failure being laid at the unions' door.
There's nothing about what it's really like to work there, the humour, the social life, the everyday experience of anyone who worked there or the people who lived nearby and didn't work there.
I'm hoping to find moving picture material that starts to tell that part of the story.
I'm drawn to this in the work that I'm proposing about the Longbridge site. The mainstream narrative about the plant is that it was an important part of Britain's economic success until the late 1960s when strikes and industrial disputes created by greedy, communist union officials dragged the company down. The day was saved across British industry by the Thatcher government's union reforms but it was too late for the car industry which was just too broken to be worth fixing.
Now if you think about it, that's obviously not the only story that could be told. It's definitely told from the point of view of a mass media that generally sides with company owners, shareholders and government. The alternative view, that the Tory government was hell-bent on destroying the labour movement, no matter what the cost is just another telling of the same story - it still pits men against management, Labour against the Tories - it uses the metaphor of battle and one side won and they get to write history. But there was surely more to it than that.
The story of ordinary working people is hardly ever told by them. It gets appropriated and re-presented by others for their own purposes. I don't want to do that, I want to encourage people to say what they've always thought anyway, but didn't have a framework to have it be heard.
Why is this important for the future of the site? Well, it's about counteracting the forces of monoculture. If you allow for there to only be one story that gets told about the past, you continue the pattern and it's more likely that only one story about the future is acceptable too. One viewpoint, the consensus view that originates from those with power and gets handed down and repeated as truth.
With blogging, we're getting used to the idea that "there's a bit more to it than that". We can present all the stories and then triangulate our position from them. We can't ever stop people making stuff up in order to either make themselves look good or else to confirm their prejudices but we can say "that's not the only way to tell this story"