Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/571/7054
The miners were right!
JUST WHAT planet does the media live on? Its coverage of the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike tried to say it was all about Arthur Scargill versus Margaret Thatcher.
Forget the other 180,000 miners involved! Forget the support from ordinary people across the country that stopped miners starving or being starved back to work.
Forget that the government and the bosses as a whole had decided they needed to break the ability of working people to negotiate decent jobs and pay. In order to super-exploit workers for the next 20 years the Tories had carefully planned to break the unions.
They attacked the coal industry and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in particular, as a route to cut real wages and make jobs insecure, so they could let their free market rip in a 'race to the bottom'.
And how it worked for them! For those at the top: super-profits for 20 years. For us: insecure futures, broken communities and now the mother of recessions as they try to make us pay for their greed.
That's why 90 ex-miners from Littleton colliery in the Midlands met outside the site of their former pit with a banner saying "Striking miners: We were right".
The same media that poured out lie after lie to divide working people and who, despite their crocodile tears for mining communities, all backed the government and employers, also try to report the historic events of 1984-85 as about 'miner against miner'. Not the truth that the miners were the front line of a battle against the Tory government, fighting a battle for us all.
Former NUM official Sean Farrell summed things up in a passionate speech about what happened. "They smashed a profitable coal industry and the communities that went with it. Communities that had values and represented the best of Britain. Thatcher represented the worst of Britain: Greed. She called us the 'enemy within' and did everything to break us.
"They told us service industries would take us forward but now we are all surrounded by the consequences of that greed with the disgusting bail-outs, using our money, of those who have savaged our economy."
The miners were right. Breaking workers' rights and getting super-profits hasn't improved everybody's lives, it has brought an economic disaster and a hugely divided society.
Labour betrayed the miners and later Liverpool City council's struggles and opposed the anti-poll tax campaign, and then lost the next two general elections. They chose to stand up for the 'free market', and now they haven't a clue. They have left working people defenceless in the face of the economic storm.
We'll all need the fighting traditions of the mineworkers if we're to find a way out.
In The Socialist 19 March 2009:
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