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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 August 2021

Thanks to the miners - an example of workers' struggle and solidarity

The red flag flies over Tower Colliery in South Wales, photo Mariam Kamish

The red flag flies over Tower Colliery in South Wales, photo Mariam Kamish   (Click to enlarge)

Mariam Kamish, Caerphilly Socialist Party

"Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we're now moving rapidly away from coal altogether". These are the words of the prime minister talking about the capitalist-fuelled climate crisis.

Hearing Boris Johnson's jeers about Thatcher's pit closures, we should recall what he was up to, while miners were fighting for their communities in 1984-85.

Johnson was a first year at Oxford University when the miners' strike began. At a time when working-class young people his age were being radicalised by the heroic battles of the miners and their families, Johnson was dreaming of joining Oxford's elite Bullingdon Club, a by-word for upper-class arrogance and privilege.

That hot summer, young miners were on the picket lines - arrested and chucked into police vans for defending their jobs. They were chased by the police at Orgreave - spending a night in the cells after actions like the occupation of the cranes at Port Talbot Steel Works.

Inspired by the strike, many other working-class young people were stopping on their way to work to join miners' picket lines, attending demos, and helping to raise a million pounds every week on the streets for the strike.

Miners had that support because they were great class fighters, and not only in their own battles. They had long been prepared to fight with courage, flair and determination alongside any section of workers who asked for solidarity. And they always encouraged the youth, taking countless young people along on coaches to demos.

When my own pit was fighting for survival in the early 90s, we produced a t-shirt with a list of our 58 struggles. Among these were occupying and saving Aberdare Hospital, alongside NHS workers; the rescue of Rhydlafar Hospital; and a number of solidarity strikes, later outlawed by Thatcher.

In the autumn of 1984, miners' families were living on food parcels, losing their tellies and in some cases, their homes because they couldn't keep up the payments. They fought on.

The miners could have won. The crucial factor in the strike’s ultimate defeat was the treacherous, cowardly role of the Labour Party leadership – and of other trade unions – who consciously sabotaged the chance of victory.

Thatcher closed the pits to break the power of the NUM, but the example of struggle and solidarity set by miners and their families will stand forever as a beacon for socialists.

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In The Socialist 11 August 2021:


NHS

Defend the NHS. Fight the Tory pay insult. Prepare strike action!

NHS: Kick out the privatisers, Fight for funding, Build for strike action


News

Tory government nationalises Sheffield steel plant

Tory cuts worsened crime and Johnson 'blitz' won't help

Fight energy price hike

Thanks to the miners - an example of workers' struggle and solidarity

News in brief


Comment

Olympic 'success' masks cuts and inequality in sport

Starmer's faithful Guardian


Campaigns news

Capitalism = climate catastrophe

Rising against a rigged and rotten system - Socialism 2021

London Pride cancelled - pandemic shows protest Pride is necessary

London: Hundreds protest for trans rights

Save Newham's theatres from Labour council cuts!

Socialist Party young members summer school

A day in the life of a young hospitality worker

West Midlands: austerity and capitalism offers no future for young people

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Don't privatise Dudley libraries

Socialist Party: Solely funded by the working class

Review - The Struggle for World Socialism


Housing

Waltham Forest: Fighting for a home for Nadia and homes for all


History

August 1991 - The aborted military coup in the 'Soviet Union'


Workplace news

Ballot majority essential to continue DVLA strike action

Night tube strike suspended to allow talks - scrap compulsory duties!

RMT strike solid on East Midlands rail

You need a union when the time comes to fight

Unions protest at exploitative Leicester company Food Attraction

Over 3,000 votes for fighting socialist programme in CWU

NSSN to lobby TUC


International news

Beirut's devastating port explosion one year on


 

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Related links:

Miners:

triangleTV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier

triangleBooks that inspired me: Germinal

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

Workers:

triangleWeetabix - workers have had enough

triangleSolidarity to the striking workers at Charité and Vivantes hospitals in Berlin

triangleClick here for a report. Speakers included: Sharon Graham - newly-elected Unite gen sec; Sarah Woolley - BFAWU gen sec; Carmel Gates - Nipsa gen sec (designate); Joe Simpson - POA deputy gen sec; Joe Kirby - RMT NEC & offshore worker

triangleUnite young and old to defend the pensions triple lock

Solidarity:

triangleNigeria: Comrade Omomeewa, student leader and socialist campaigner, killed by armed assailants

triangleKazakhstan: Solidarity with protesters attacked by regime forces

triangleKazakhstan: Nur Otan regime attacks peaceful protest

Strike:

triangleOaks Park school: Redbridge Labour council backs strike-breaking bullies

triangleGoodlord dispute: Labour's leadership weasled out of backing strike action

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