This is a major re-evaluation of the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike, which was a central event in Britain's recent economic, industrial and political history, and the first book to show the pivotal and distinctive nature of the strike in Scotland. The book's particular strengths address the limits of current understanding of the meaning and character of the strike. It: • focuses on colliery-and community-level factors in shaping and sustaining the strike, which tends to be understood in overly narrow high political terms; • examines Scottish developments, which were central to the outbreak and longevity of the strike against closures; • demonstrates that the strike was a popular and socially-embedded phenomenon, with limited connection to the ‘Scargill versus Thatcher’ dispute of historical legend and much political literature; • explores the moral economy of the coalfields, and how this shaped attitudes to coal closures and the strike • provides immediate and highly engaging history from below perspectives on society and politics in the 1980s, using interviews with strike participants.
The importance of environment in Barry Hines's writing means that insight into his background and the journey to his writing career introduces people to the recurrent preoccupations of his work. Much of the literary reception of Hines's work places him within a canon of working-class writing. This book is the first academic account of Barry Hines's work. It traces the roots of Barry Hines's literary mode of poetic realism in those works of the 1960s that preceded A Kestrel for a Knave. The literary promise Hines showed in The Blinder led to the filming of his novel A Kestrel for a Knave as Kes. The book focuses on a period of extremely fruitful aesthetic production for Hines. It also traces the aesthetic and political effects of the early years of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government on Hines's writing. The archival history of Threads' drafts and production reveals the nature of its symbolic and factual relation to British politics in this era and how its mingling of documentary and dramatic tropes took shape. Looks and Smiles marked the end of Barry Hines's career-defining collaboration with Ken Loach. The exceptionally divisive events of the miners' strike of 1984-1985 had an acute effect on Hines's writing, just as they did on the terrain and communities of the South Yorkshire that he invariably depicts. The book explores the interconnected issues of class, space and place in Hines's writing, and the practice and purpose of working-class film, television and literature.
The 1980s were the heyday of the Thatcher counter-revolution, with mass deindustrialisation destroying Britain's manufacturing base. It was a period of significant setbacks for left politics, most notably the crushing of the miners' strike, Tony Benn's defeat in the Labour deputy leadership contest, and the abolition of the left-controlled Greater London Council. The surcharging and disqualification of councillors who resisted central government rate-capping, Labour's loss of the 1983 and 1987 general elections and the notorious 1983 Bermondsey by-election were also a part of the events during this period. This book resists the view that Labour's political and economic thought was moribund during the 1980s. It shows that Labour embraced new views on the role of the state and state intervention in the economy. The idea of a national investment bank, continental social democracy, and the 'Brexit' referendum of 2016 are discussed. Nostalgia was built into the New Labour's psyche, making it seem adrift from a changing society. Neil Kinnock replaced Michael Foot as leader in 1983 after Labour's defeat in that year's general election, and formed a party that brought changes that coincided with those made by Mikhail Gorbachev. Two major struggles between the Militant-led, Labour-run Liverpool City Council and Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government damaged the reputation of the Labour Party, harmed its fortunes in the 1987 general election. The Race Today Collective was the most influential group of black radicals in the UK, 'the centre, in England, of black liberation'.
8 ‘Fill a bag and feed a family’: the miners’ strike and its supporters Maroula Joannou I cannot interfere … it breaks my heart to see what is happening in our country today. A terrible strike is being carried on by the best men in the world. They beat the Kaiser’s army and they beat Hitler’s army. They never gave in. (Harold Macmillan, First Earl of Stockton, debut in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)1 The miners’ strike of 1984–85 was the most protracted and bitterly contested strike in the history of late twentieth-century Britain: its importance as a
7 Networks of solidarity The London left and the 1984–85 miners’ strike Diarmaid Kelliher In March 1984 the majority of British miners walked out on strike against the threat of widespread pit closures. Unlike the 1972 and 1974 coal disputes during the previous Conservative government, this was to be a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful struggle, ending a year later with no agreement and the National Coal Board’s Ian McGregor promising to teach miners ‘the price of insubordination and insurrection’.1 Although many miners and their families were undoubtedly
4 Imagining post-industrial Britain The Heart of It, the miners’ strike plays, Looking at the Sun, Shooting Stars, Born Kicking, Elvis Over England As becomes clear over the course of this chapter, the exceptionally divisive events of the miners’ strike of 1984–85 had an acute effect on Hines’s writing, just as they did on the terrain and communities of the South Yorkshire that he invariably depicts. The events proved so resistant to Hines’s efforts to represent them that none of the three plays he wrote in the wake of the strike was ever produced. His radio
College on local activists and politicians. This chapter explores Sheffield's working-class institutions and details the role of certain political families in maintaining the close relationship between industry and politics. It examines the extent to which these institutions embraced new left ideas to meet the challenge of mass and youth unemployment, and describes the fate of Militant and other left-wing factions in Sheffield. The chapter ends by delving further into the 1984–85 miners’ strike to demonstrate how class politics and the labour movement remained important
order to show solidarity with these workers, Test Dept had understood their touring as a contemporary version of the red ‘agit trains’ on which Vertov had cut his teeth as a filmmaker and editor. According to Jamrozy, ‘[w]hen TD got involved with the Miners’ Strike, we drew parallels with what were classified as the “Red” or “Educational Trains” and what the Russian futurists were doing 70 years previously.’ 6 The ‘battle bus,’ as they called it, travelled to various mining towns, eventually making alliances with the newly formed South Wales Striking Miners’ Choir
, Mallet used the term ‘Occitanie’ to refer to this emerging constituency of disadvantaged rural producers in the Languedoc, as distinct from the cultural conservatism of the Félibrige. Instead, Mallet’s concept of a working-class ‘Occitanie’ was to become the figurehead of Crossing the streams 133 a political movement, inflected with the language of decolonisation and was adopted by an increasingly strident group of Occitan sociologists.28 The dramatic miners’ strike at Decazeville was an important moment in this process. Those convinced of the need to speak
energy crisis in England, forcing the infamous Three-Day Week (from 1 January to 7 March) and precipitating a general election that felled Edward Heath’s Conservative government (2014: 13). The mineworkers (and in synecdoche, their figurehead, Scargill) would epitomise the new industrial and political militancy of the period, Milne writes, emboldening working-class activists in their reasoned ability to humiliate and demoralise the ruling political class. The preferred ordeal 57 The relation between the miners’ strikes and the specific act of tunnelling as a form