Posts Tagged ‘miners’

For pity’s sake, stay at home tomorrow

16/04/2013, 07:00:32 AM

by Ian Stewart

For the past week those of us who remember the 1980s have been in our own ways reliving them. It has been neither a pleasant nor edifying spectacle to watch friends and family tear lumps off each other over the legacy of the frail old woman who died at the Ritz. Facebook accounts are now covered in the detritus of real life as well as online friendships wrecked by casual or bombastic posts that reopened the wounds long thought healed.

To watch a crowd of idiots vandalise my local cinema – which by the way was showing the excellent Spirit of ’45 – and then break the windows of the bastion of Thatcherism that is Brixton’s Banardos shop defied all logic. I mean, Foxtons – I understand that, but Banardos? Please explain?

I still cannot forgive or forget Mrs Thatcher and her government – not for the miners, nor for Corby, nor for letting the free market rip in such a way that highly skilled industrial jobs in my home town were butchered (Lowestoft men built the Virgin Atlantic Challenger that won the blue riband – using state of the art plasma welding – then were left on the scrapheap). I doubt that Germany, Holland or Norway would have done the same. Eastern Coachworks shut down, north sea oil and gas money frittered away, leaving behind an economy reliant on food processing plants and moving away as the only serious option if you have ambition.

What I also cannot forgive is the fact that ever since 1990, every single succeeding government has attempted not to alter the Thatcher consensus, but simply to give it a “human face”. Up until the great crash Major, Blair and Brown had all seemingly achieved this – balancing social spending with deregulation, further privatisation and tax cuts for the rich.


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Labour history uncut: the tale of not-so-Black Friday

21/03/2013, 04:24:09 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

Within the Labour movement there are stories recounted through the ages that chill the blood. The tale of the 15th April 1921 or Black Friday (cue flash of lightning and crash of thunder) is one such legend.

On this dark day, the plucky, benighted miners were betrayed. The other unions stood silently by. The Labour party was cravenly silent and it was a disaster for the labour movement.

But was it really that simple?

For those taking part at the time, it certainly didn’t seem so.

Miners in Birmingham begin to suspect the guy in white has just taken a wrong turn off the golf course

Since the first world war, the government had run most of the mining industry, and had been doing very well out of it too. But by February 1921 price of coal had fallen sharply. With shipments of coal now coming in from Germany as part of reparations, the price was dropping faster than morale on the western front just after General Haig asked, “who fancies a stroll across the fields on this fine Somme morning?”

It looked like either redundancies or wage cuts were necessary. Or both.

Learning that mining was indeed dirty work, the government decided to act. They rushed through a bill to hand back the mines to their old private sector owners. Let them be the bad guys.


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