THE LAST STAND - THE 1984/85 MINERS STRIKE

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Again, thanks so much for your patience Having just about finished with "Is Saitch Yer Daddy" some sort of publication still to come , I felt impelled to turn what little talent I might have towards the Un - Presidential Campaign of Donald Trump.

Battle of Orgreave

Whether or not my efforts will influence the outcome of this campaign in any way is not my concern. My concern was and still is that I did not sit back and say or do nothing. This is Mark and Ralph with our monthly update Mark is feeling better, and has been cleared by his doctors to begin more vigorous physical rehabilitation from his surgery. Meanwhile, work continues to grind forward on Chapter Three, with completion of the rough draft expected soon.

Hopefully we can report that as well as significant progress on Chapter Four next month Meanwhile, Mark challenged a major inaccuracy in a Washington Post book review of the new "authorized" Margaret Thatcher biography by Charles Moore. While the writer, Elaine Showalter, is a feminist academic with some serious heft, she is either not very informed about British political history or simply sloppy. To be specific, Showalter fundamentally mischaracterizes the issue at hand in the do-or-die Miners Strike of , claiming it was pursuit of higher wages, initiated by NUM leader Arthur Scargill with little regard for the suffering of his union members.

In so doing, she lets Thatcher off the hook in some very significant ways, plays into Tory propaganda demonizing Scargill and thus fails to be an informed, responsible critic. See above a vintage button clearly identifying the real issue in the strike, and below Mark's response to Showalter's disappointing review, which can itself be read here:. In so doing, she fundamentally undermines the credibility of her review of the new Charles Moore biography of Margaret Thatcher.

While 40, jobs had already been lost in the previous three years, by Thatcher was preparing to close more than 70 additional "pits"--the British term for coal mines--at the height of worst mass unemployment seen since the Great Depression. Moreover, the strike was in fact not called by Scargill, but initiated by by miners themselves at pits slated for closure, starting at the Cortonwood mine where miners walked out after hearing the news on March 6th.

Very disappointing that the Post allowed her space to review this significant new book. Well, December was not exactly the month we planned on Anarchism in the UK.

Faith: A Dramatic Tribute to the Miners' Strike of

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European Union. Government and Society. Green energy. Historical Memory. Labour movement. Labour Party. Literary criticism. Louise Michel. Mexican Revolution. It became quite clear almost as soon as the strike had begun that the ruling class, and the Thatcher government in particular, had meticulously planned for this battle.

From the outset Militant declared:. The huge military-style police operation ordered by Home Secretary Leon Brittan against the striking miners, is the biggest such operation since the general strike. The Ridley plan, leaked in , proposed the building up of coal stocks, the beefing up of the police and other state forces, the altering of the law to hamper and restrict strike action and the use of all possible force to smash the miners.

A defeat, as humiliating as possible, was the conscious aim of Thatcher. The government provoked strike action in The press revealed that three army barracks had been made available to accommodate the roving vans of police strikebreakers. All the paraphernalia of riot control, special helmets, shields, flameproof suits and police dogs, not to mention spotter aircraft and helicopters, were carefully assembled. From the very first week of the strike Militant commented that we had.

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The police had assumed legal powers far above anything they had used in the past, stopping cars and buses and turning them back hundreds of miles from their destinations, intimidating bus companies into refusing contracts with miners and even threatening to arrest Kent workers if they strayed outside their home county. One solicitor in Kent, commented to Militant:. There is no such offence as secondary picketing except in the civil law and yet the police are using the criminal law to prevent people from picketing peacefully.

Failure to comply would make workers liable to arrest for obstruction. We warned that "it is still not ruled out that steps could be taken to try to sequestrate parts of the NUM assets, as in the case of the NGA. We emphasised that:. Capitalism is itself creating all the conditions of class conflict and social upheaval. One of the most striking features of the dispute was the magnificent movement of the women from the mining communities, whose organisation of a support network was crucial to enabling the strike to continue as long as it did.

They inspired tens of thousands of women everywhere to fight. There was massive enthusiasm for the strike which developed rapidly from below. We declared that:. And there should be a clear demand for no pit closures except for proven exhaustion of resources or genuine safety reasons, and even then only with the guarantee of alternative jobs for miners affected. The rail and steel unions must be approached to build a real fighting Triple Alliance at national level - and in every area in support of the basic industries. Our pages reflected the growing militancy not just in the traditional heartlands of Yorkshire and South Wales but in Nottingham also.

Pickets from other areas arriving at Bevercotes declared:.

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The response has been marvellous. We just told everyone it was an NUM picket and asked them not to cross. However, the failure of the strike to develop fully in the Nottingham coalfield undoubtedly complicated the battle.

Both at the time and since not a little ink has been spilled over the issue of whether it would have been more effective if the miners had called a ballot, even while they were out on strike, to confirm an overwhelmingly majority in favour of strike action. This was a fig leaf behind which the right-wing attempted to hide their nakedness during the most important industrial struggle since the general strike. Nevertheless, it would have been better tactically for the NUM leaders to sanction a ballot a few weeks into the strike.

This would have resulted in a probable 80 per cent to 90 per cent majority in favour of strike action. Would a successful ballot have guaranteed victory to the miners? If the Nottinghamshire coalfield had voted against then it does not take a great imagination to picture how the leaders of the scab Union of Democratic Mineworkers UDM would have reacted. But a majority in favour of action on a national level could have convinced the majority of Nottinghamshire miners to strike.

Militant pointed out that this was the most important class conflict for decades. Pointing to the example of the paper showed that:. The TUC leaders [during ] became a brake on the movement.

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The great miners' strike 1984-85

From the very first hours of the general strike, the TUC leaders were looking for an excuse to call it off. Most miners today have already realised that the majority of the present TUC general council are no better than the leaders of Therefore, at each stage Militant urged the miners to adopt the strategy of appealing to the ranks of the movement to put pressure on the tops for solidarity action.

Miners Strike 1984/85

At the same time, the paper suggested that the miners take the lead in calling for the left leaders on the general council to pursue an independent strategy to that of the saboteurs on the right. The Guardian commented on a meeting in the Nottinghamshire coalfield, which indicated the mood of miners at the time:.


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This was a rally of mainly young men who had been on the picket line most of the week, who feel a sense of bitter injustice, who want a social revolution. But the paper and its supporters were no less ardent in supporting the miners. Consequently our support significantly increased amongst miners and workers generally. At one stage during the strike miners were recruited as committed supporters of Militant. This growing support made it necessary for the Editorial Board to step up the struggle for greater resources. In April we commented:. This week Militant has had to add four extra pages to its normal But another vital reason is to allow space to produce our special appeal and to explain what a crucial stage our paper has reached.

Most weeks now, we have enough material for double the number of pages we can print. But now we needed new premises. Due to the heroic efforts of our supporters and readers it became possible to buy large premises in Hackney Wick and gather together all the operations involved in the production of Militant in one building.