Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/809/18540
A South Wales miner remembers
Tyrone O'Sullivan, currently chair of Tower Colliery and Secretary of Tower NUM during the great miners' strike spoke to Caerphilly Socialist Party about the 30th anniversary of the strike.
"There are people making television programmes and giving interviews saying the miners were architects of their own downfall - or blaming Arthur Scargill. Those are lies. We had to fight. We were forced into the strike by the Tory Party, who were supported by the likes of then Labour leader Neil Kinnock, because he feared the strength of working people as much as the Tories did.
We scared the hell out of them, because we didn't just fight for ourselves, we supported others as well, in this country and internationally.
Arthur Scargill addresses the striking miners during the 1983-84 miners strike, photo by Militant (Click to enlarge)
"In the 1970s working people were strong. We were moving society in the right direction. Because of the miners' defeat, Thatcher - with Reagan - was able to set the world back 40 years. All the work the miners had done supporting struggles in this country - and in countries like Nicaragua and South Africa - was set back. The Tories won and changed the world.
"Of course when Thatcher beat Scargill, she didn't beat the miners. What she didn't realise was that in Wales - to take our case - there were 22 Scargills, 44 Scargills in the pits. When the strike ended, we didn't go away.
"We were the lucky ones in Tower. We carried on after the strike just as before. We kept fighting. We kept travelling all over the country - we kept supporting others - and when other pits closed, the best people came to Tower, the men who wouldn't take redundancy. By closing all those pits, the Tories accidentally gave Tower the best army in the world and that's why we were the last pit in South Wales.
"In Tower, we always used May Day to invite people from the other pit areas - Durham, Yorkshire, Kent - down to a dinner and march in Aberdare. We always used that opportunity to talk politics and bring all the areas of the NUM together. In 1984, the very year the strike started, Nottingham was meant to be coming down. If we'd only had them down the year before, history might have been different.
"I'm looking forward to speaking at the May Day meeting. We need to explain the lessons of the miners' strike to this generation, so they are prepared for the battles of today. Others may change, but I don't. I still have the beliefs I always had - and always will have."
Tyrone O'Sullivan is speaking on Thursday, 1 May, 7.00pm at the Maldron Hotel, St Mary's Street, Cardiff, CF10 1GD at a public meeting organised by the Socialist Party.
In The Socialist 30 April 2014:
Socialist Party election campaigning
International socialist news and analysis
International workers' day
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news