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A Polite Revolution: the saving of Friern Barnet library


Released on the weekend, "A Polite Revolution" is a beautiful short film by Oonagh Cousins about the successful fight by residents and occupiers to save Friern Barnet library from closure.

A Polite Revolution from Oonagh Cousins on Vimeo.


Occupiers went into the closed library last year with the blessing of many residents "who are delighted to see the locked doors of the library flung open once again," as the Guardian reported last year. Barnet Council recently backed down from attempts to evict the occupiers and agreed to grant residents a two-year lease to run the library in Friern Barnet Road.

As Barnet blogger Mrs Angry says of "A Polite Revolution":

"This is a fabulous, moving and inspiring film, with contributions by local residents and campaigners, who speak about the impact the occupation of the library has had on their lives and community, and points to the wider significance of the story, the possibilities of a future where communities take control of their own destinies, not through the faux democracy and empty promises of the Tory localism agenda, but through direct action, and grassroots campaigning.

Local resident and library campaigner Fiona Brickwood makes some very interesting personal observations in the film: she describes herself as coming from a 'privileged' background, never having been involved before in political protest; she watched with some astonishment as the campaign for the library appeared to move from a peaceful and 'legitimate' protest into something rather different - she compares this to 'like going to war'.

A fair comparison, because it seems to Mrs Angry that we are in the middle of a war, and a war fought on several fronts. We are seeing the emergence of a new class war, with a newly defined underclass of dispossessed, and yes, disenfranchised citizens, whose lives are being made intolerable through a concerted assault, by a government run by a privileged elite, intent on removing from the less advantaged members of society the most basic requirements of everything fundamental to a decent standard of life."

There's a good blog here too on the occupation by Barnet blogger Rog T.


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