The Great Miners' Strike

Putting solidarity back into Pride

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Nicola Field and Gethin Roberts of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners spoke to Socialist Review about politicising this year's Pride season.

We’ve just seen a majority Tory government elected. How will this shape the context of the Pride marches this year and the wider work you are doing through the re-launched Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM)?

Nicola: The Tories, who were seen before the election by the bourgeois gay movement as heroes because they brought in gay marriage, have now shown their true colours. The cabinet is full of homophobes, such as the new equalities minister, Caroline Dinenage, who voted against equal marriage.

Miners' Strike: Politics the key

Archive article

The miners' strike has developed into a war of attrition. Miners talk quite openly about lasting out to the winter or new year in order to have an impact, and government ministers put a brave face on things and claim that they will be able to survive even the winter. Hardly anyone still says that the battle will be won or lost in the next few days.

The long and bitter slog of the miners' strike is not natural or inevitable. Every week throws up chances of transforming the dispute from a long slog in which the determination of each side is tested to breaking point, into a battle that could be lost or won in one decisive morning of struggle.

Pride

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Pride

Directed by Matthew Warchus, released 12 September
Pride is an inspiring and joyful film set during the miners’ strike of 1984. It tells the story of the formation of the first Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group (LGSM), the relationship they develop with the striking mining community in Dulais, South Wales, and the national impact they have.

Documenting the struggle

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Still the Enemy Within, the passionate, crowd-funded film about the 1984-85 Great Miners’ Strike, won the Audience Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival where it was premiered last month.

The film combines a wonderful mix of elements to illuminate the strike. First hand testimony comes from ex-miners, campaigners from Women Against Pit Closures and members of black, student and gay and lesbian support groups.

Crisis of leadership

Archive article

Four months of striking by the miners has had a substantial effect on the Labour movement. As the dispute develops into the most bitter and protracted struggle the NUM has fought since the General Strike, and into the hardest fought struggle against the Thatcher government ever to take place, a number of important lessons have become starkly clear.

Some of the lessons of the miners' strike are ones which will be familiar to regular readers of this magazine. For example, the famous and basic Marxist proposition that it is only in the course of struggle that workers become conscious of their own ability to change the world has been demonstrated in a thousand cases in this dispute.

Wives, mothers and fighters

Archive article

The miners' strike has seen both very backward sexist attitudes from some miners and a wonderful mobilisation of miners' wives and girlfriends to help win the strike.

The best story of the last month was the one about the policeman who looked into a car carrying Yorkshire miners' wives to a picket in Nottinghamshire. "Right, ladies, on you go," he said. "We're looking for pickets, but we can see you're not pickets."

I was there... The Battle of Orgreave

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On the afternoon of 18 June 1984 thousands of striking miners were fleeing from a politically orchestrated attack by baton-wielding riot police. This day is known as the Battle of Orgreave.

Between 23 May and 18 June there was an attempt by miners to shut the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire, which was feeding the steel works in Scunthorpe.

Pickets and ballots

Archive article

The class war makes strange bedfellows. Alex Callinicos looks at some of the people who have been caught out by the miners' strike.

A sharp rise in the level of class struggle puts socialist ideas to the test. The present miners' strike is a good example. Six months ago it was easy enough to waffle on about the evils of Thatcherism. It didn't mean anything in practice. But now every political current within the working class movement can be judged on the basis of what they are doing to help the miners win. Nothing has more effectively exposed Neil Kinnock than his public vacillations over the strike and private support for a ballot.

'Democracy' and the state

Archive article

The use of massive numbers of police to stop miners picketing has made the role of the state machine a live issue in the labour movement. Gareth Jenkins and Colin Sparks look at the arguments.

There is no doubt that the huge police operation against the NUM has been orchestrated by the government. It is clearly part of a strategy designed to smash the power of the NUM and weaken the working class overall.

Behind The Miners Strike: Class struggle hots up

Archive article

At the annual Easter rally of the Socialist Workers Party, Chris Harman, editor of Socialist Worker examined the state of class struggle in Britain today. We reprint his talk here

On the face of it, the situation in the class struggle has changed dramatically over the last four months or so. Last October we talked about the 'downturn'. We meant it was like being stuck in a calm of the class struggle, gradually drifting backwards.

It was miserable: no mass strikes, or pickets or demonstrations. Only when you talked about the general politics could you escape from the feeling of misery. If you looked at the struggle it was a story of defeats.

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