Located on the north bank of the Thames in the heart of London’s borough of Westminster, and also known as the Palace of Westminster, the House of Lords and the House of Commons together form the home of the UK government.
The oldest parts of the palace date from the 11th century, and throughout the late medieval period it was the principal royal residence. The first parliament met there in 1295, followed by almost all subsequent parliaments.
Major improvements were carried out in the late 18th century, and in the 1820s Sir John Soane oversaw extensive remodelling; the medieval section of the House of Lords – which Guy Fawkes had once sought to destroy – was demolished. After a fire tore through the palace in 1834, Charles Barry was hired to design the Gothic-style palace that stands today. The foundation stone was laid in 1840 and the work was fully completed 30 years later.
A 2006 docudrama directed by Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, The Road to Guantánamo described the plight of three British-Asian detainees in the infamous camp at the Guantánamo Bay Naval base in Cuba. The men, known as ‘the Tipton Three’ after their West Midlands home, travelled to Pakistan for a wedding shortly after 9/11 and rashly decided to take a trip into Afghanistan. They were arrested and held in a US military stockade (where they claim they were beaten) before being transported to the camp at Guantánamo Bay. Once there, they were held in solitary for two years without charge or legal representation, before being released in 2004 without compensation.
Controversy arose when one of the three men later admitted he had in fact, visited an Islamist training camp in Afghanistan, casting a pall over the men’s status as innocent victims.
It was the first film to have the distinction of being released at the cinema and on DVD and the internet simultaneously, on 14 February 2006. The response was positive for the most part, and the film won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.
Detractors have criticised Winterbottom for failing to address the Tipton Three’s initial decision to enter Afghanistan. A Times review said: “The sheer stupidity of these Brits mocks the sincerity of the film. Winterbottom refuses to ask the bleeding obvious. His unquestioning faith in his 'cast' is bewildering”.
No one, however, criticised the film’s highlighting of the alleged human rights abuses at Guantánamo Bay, which Amnesty International have called “the gulag of our times”.
Barbour is a British clothing company specialising in outdoor apparel, founded in 1894 by John Barbour in South Shields. The garment referred to (as worn by the neighbour who becomes the Brotherhood’s second hostage) is likely to be Barbour’s famous wax jacket, originally conceived for the dockers, sailors and fishermen in South Shields’ damp and rainy port and latterly popular with upper-middle-class country-dwelling folk.
Al-Qaeda is a militant Islamist sect formed at an unspecified point in the late 1980s (probably 1988). Widely considered a terrorist organisation, it was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington DC in 2001.
Methods favoured by Al-Qaeda include suicide bombings and simultaneous bombing of targets in different locations. Members may have taken a pledge to the elusive Osama Bin-Laden, or else be linked operatives who have undergone stringent training in Afghan, Iraqi or Sudanese camps.
Al-Qaeda reportedly believes that Islam is under threat from a Christian-Jewish alliance. They also believe that the deaths of civilians and innocents are justified in jihad.
The Brotherhood suspects Padma of being a member of Al-Qaeda (although she is in fact Hindu).
This quote, taken from the finale of Jeremiah's impassioned speech to the Brotherhood, is a direct echo of Tony Blair's famous 'purer than pure' speech which he made to his Cabinet in 1998:
"We do, as a new Government, have to be extremely careful after 18 years in opposition. A lot of people who worked for us, they then go on and work for the lobby firms. I think we have to be very careful with people fluttering around the new Government, trying to make all sorts of claims of influence, that we are purer than pure, that people understand that we will not have any truck with anything that is improper in any shape or form at all."
Blair's speech is often misremembered as him saying 'whiter than white'.