Miners Strike: New Book

December 2021 Forums Events and announcements Miners Strike: New Book

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  • #82699

    We have received this message at Head Office from the publishers of a bookcalled How Black Were Our Valleys on the Miners Strike in one of South Wales (ex-) mining valleys:

    Quote:


    Just to let you know the book is in print, there will be an official launch at Big
    Pit on 5th April, starting at 10am.It will be an all day event including video
    footage that we found, speeches and The Red Choir will be singing. Thanks for the
    contribution, here's the link if you want to take a
    look. http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Black-Were-Valleys-Commemoration/dp/1495399494/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392731292&sr=1-1&keywords=how+black+were+our+valleys
    Copies are available from myself in about three weeks time or direct from Amazon now. Our contribution consists of this passage from our 1985 pamphlet The Strike Weapon -- Lessons of the Miners' Strike.
    which appears on page 172 under the heading "The Role of the State":

    Quote:

    By the time the strike was over the miners had experienced at first hand the way in which the coercive power of the state can be, and is, used in defence of ruling class interests. The police, the judiciary, criminal courts and civil courts, even the DHSS, were all used against the striking miners. No expense was spared: at a time when health, education and social services are being drastically cut some estimates of the cost of the miners’ strike have been as high as £2,367 million. But as Nigel Lawson, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, explained to the House of Commons on 31 July 1984, it was a ‘worthwhile investment’ for the country – for the capitalist class that is.

    That the coercive forces of the state should have been used against the striking miners, is not surprising. Governments – both Labour and Tory have used the police and even the army to break strikes many times before.

    The full text of our pamphlet can be found here:

    http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pamphlets/strike-weapon-lessons-miners%E2%80%99-strike

    #100133
    Brian
    Participant

    See if Swansea can attend this.

    #100134
    northern light
    Participant

    You can add the N.H.S. to that list. My children's tory pediatrician and dietition were prepared to risk my children's health to get me back to work. Oh, I have some painful memories of that strike.

    #100135
    steve colborn
    Participant

    It's a pity that the meeting on the Miners Strike circa 84/85 is'nt available. It was a meeting held in Islington, if i remember right, addressed by myself, Janie Persy Smith and Clifford Slapper. It was also my first public meeting outside the NE. Has anyone a tape of the meeting? The meeting covered all of the illegal actions taken by the state and the way in which the state apparatus was deployed against workers, on a national level!

    #100136
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Without getting my notes out (Yes I still have notes on the 84 miners strike) I seem to remember that there was a group from Oxford that challenged the government's claim that the mines were uneconomical.The group argued that the government had not  factored in  jobs,  community and public health. Only  profits.Just another day in capitalism 

    #100137
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    steve colborn wrote:
    It's a pity that the meeting on the Miners Strike circa 84/85 is'nt available. It was a meeting held in Islington, if i remember right, addressed by myself, Janie Persy Smith and Clifford Slapper. It was also my first public meeting outside the NE. Has anyone a tape of the meeting? The meeting covered all of the illegal actions taken by the state and the way in which the state apparatus was deployed against workers, on a national level!

    Yes indeed, but a talk given by Steve Coleman in Kings Cross on October 12th, 1984 can be heard here:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/audio/miners-strike-marxist-analysisAs can this debate between Steve Coleman and Colin Tipton of the SWP in Guildford on May 10th, 1985:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/audio/after-miners-strike-which-way-forward-socialistsAnd here's a plug for the film to be shown at Head Office on Sunday, March 2nd:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/event/1984-miners-strike-film-south-london-600pm

    #100138
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Brian wrote:
    See if Swansea can attend this.

    Hope so. By 5 April the Euroelection campaign will be about to begin, so this will be a chance to hand out some leaflets about us standing in Wales (looks as if we will since the video for the election broadcast seems to be coming along ok). Maybe also to sell some copies of our Strike Weapon pamphlet  It's out print but Kent & Sussex Branch reprinted a few copies for a miners' event in Kent. I wonder if there are any left or whether they could do some more?

    #100139
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    ALB wrote:
    Maybe also to sell some copies of our Strike Weapon pamphlet  It's out print but Kent & Sussex Branch reprinted a few copies for a miners' event in Kent. I wonder if there are any left or whether they could do some more?

    I don't see why not; how many copies would suffice?

    #100140
    Brian
    Participant

    I think 10 would be plenty.  Please send them to Geoff Williams the Swansea contact with the invoice.Thanks

    #100141
    northern light
    Participant

    Vin,  if you dig out those Oxford notes, challenging government claims that the mines were uneconomical, let us know if there isany mention of a "nuclear levy."  Apparently "unprofitable" British Coal paid money to our Nuclear Industry, to help them balance the books. So it was hardly suprising, when in 1990, with the pits dropping like nine-pins and the Nuclear Industry losing it'sanonymus benifactor, that the government taxed the public with a "nuclear levy," raising the average electric bill by 11%.

    #100142
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I think an "uneconomic" pit was defined as one where its income did not cover its costs, but there were other pits where this only just happened and others where it was below average. So it would have been possible to draw up a list of pits which did cover their costs even if only just in some cases. In fact, I would even say that if Scargill and some of the other NUM leaders had not have had the political aim of bringing down the Thatcher government they might have been able to have reached a deal to keep more pits open for longer as well as to obtain better redundancy terms. But what happened happened and one lesson would be that, if a government is determined enough, it can defeat any strike and that only political not industrial action can overthrow capitalism (or even one of its governments).

    #100143
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

     "I would even say that if Scargill and some of the other NUM leaders had not have had the political aim of bringing down the Thatcher government they might have been able to have reached a deal to keep more pits open for longer as well as to obtain better redundancy terms. " Is there any references you have that the 84/85 Strike was a political strike by the NUM leadership to overthrow Thatcher? According to this 2009 story the NUM had made various deals with the Tories. It was MacGregor who decided to walk away from any settlement. If there was a political dimension, i rather think it was from Thatcher. The supposed list of 20 pits was secretly 70. The breaking of the law to defeat the strikers, etc etc.  As you say the State has the power, and despite the secret preparations, it did not require to use its full force of drafting in troops, just the brain-dead Met Police on overtime and subsistence payments – a mercenary para-military force , if there was one.  I got friendly with a Yorkshire superindent  and he actually now fully sympathises with the miners and regrets his previous attitudes(from the luxury of retirement , of course) and what happened to them. He saw his own policemen brandishing handful of cash to taunt the strikes and ordered it to stop. Other police commanders wanted the provocation to increase. Some try to debate whether the miners could have won the strike …Dave Douglass i think argues that it could have but i think you are correct in your assessment and it is a fantasy to think otherwise.  I think a lot of observers now consider the decision of NACODS to go against their own ballot the real nail in the coffin of the strike. So those who question the democracy of the NUM not holding a national ballot rarely turn their sights on that brazen breach of it by Nacods.   Even though they could and did express their wishes in the innumerable pithead votes and they decided not wait for a national ballot as did their special conference. Its a moot point whether Notts would have scabbed (as they did in the 1920s) or not but again opinion polls showed the vote if a national ballot was held would be a yes.  Scargill isn't my favourite person but he shouldn't be made a scapegoat for the defeat of the miners and the politicalisation of the strike. Lets remember who were the victims were and what they suffered because of a particular Tory policy and the despicable role of the media in parroting her lies. 

    #100144
    steve colborn
    Participant

    Strength of feeling still there, 30 years later; A POLICE band has withdrawn from a theatre show about the decline of the coal industry after its involvement stirred up ill-feeling among the region’s mining community.Durham Constabulary brass band had been lined up to play a major role in Brassed Off, at Darlington Civic Theatre, next month.It has pulled out amid fears objectors could set up picket lines outside the theatre.Many members of the region’s mining community felt the involvement of a police band, albeit one made up of civilians, was insensitive in the context of the force’s role in the 1984 miners’ strikes.That has left producers with just over three weeks to find a replacement so the show can go on.Their task has been complicated by the fact that brass bands from across the North will take part in a demanding competition in Darlington the week before Brassed Off is due to open.Producer Jenny King said a brass band is integral to the show, which is based on the 1996 film telling the story of a band in a fictional Yorkshire mining town where the pit is facing closure.Durham Miners' Association, which objected to the police band’s involvement, is helping to find a replacement.A post on the Facebook Durham Mining Communities, which has more than 2,000 followers, said the use of a police band was ‘inappropriate and insulting’.Durham Miners’ Association said it was pleased the police band had pulled out, while stressing its support for the production.A spokesman said: “We don’t want to embarrass [the production company] any more – we would like to help as much as possible to make [the production] a success.“We will be encouraging people to go along and see it.”The band said it was disappointed that a ‘small but vociferous’ number of people campaigned against its involvement.Honorary secretary Neil Ibinson said: “Members were delighted to get the invitation and were looking forward to the production.“However, due to the strength of feeling, we feel the only option is to withdraw.”Mr Ibinson, 55, who plays solo euphonium in the band, said the band has a number of young members and he did not wish to expose them to potential protests.He added: “There are no police officers in the band, we are all civilians.“Many of us are from mining backgrounds and several, including myself, also used to play in colliery bands.“We hope the producers are able to find a replacement band.”Some of the band’s fee for performing in Brassed Off would have gone to local charities, Mr Ibinson said.Assuming another band can be found, the show will run from March 18 to 22.

    #100145
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I agree Alan. And the 84 strike was planned years in advance by the 'new right' and its aim was to destroy the NUM and not simply to close 'uneconomical' pits. The miners were in defence not on the attack. To suggest we wanted to go on strike just to bring down Thatcher is simply way off the markIt is easy to look back at the ballot and see it as a good thing and an extension of union democracy.But some miners saw it as doing their masters bidding. If I remember correctly the miners were out! Their masters wanted them to go back to work and hold a referendum.    In the past workers simply raised their hands

    #100146
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Vin Maratty wrote:
    The miners were in defence not on the attack. To suggest we wanted to go on strike just to bring down Thatcher is simply way off the mark

    Of course it was defensive and of course the miners themselves weren't on strike to bring down the Thatcher government. But that was part of the rhetoric Scargill employed (not so sure about Peter Heathfield, he was more cautious in the language he used). He certainly believed that industrial action could/should be used for political ends. Members can and will  disagree on this, but I think Scargill mismanaged the strike. There could have been some sort of settlement after the NACODS vote but it didn't happen. Even when it was clear that the strike had been lost Scargill afforded himself the luxury of voting against a return to work which had to be proposed by the Communist Party members on the NUM Executive.As to Dave Douglass, it is difficult to work out how reliable he can be regarded . I remember during the 1972 strike (at a time when I was working for the NUM) that his proposal to stop the pit closures was armed miners militias .On the other hand, he did later write a pamphlet refuting the anti-union position of groups like the ICC and CWO in the same sort of way we do, reviewed favourably in the May 2000 Socialist Standard.

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