Miners’ Strike Redux

Yorkshire NUM

A recent thread on TCTE asked the question “Did the Welsh scab on the Geordies?” in relation to the 1984-5 UK pit strike. Behind the bald generalisations lies an interesting point, though: the strike – and the response of the state and the National Coal Board – did help fracture an organised labour force, one which many times had exercised leverage on the political system for the benefit of its members and the communities around them.

Whilst rewatching the excellent epic drama serial Our Friends In The North (sort of a British Heimat with the focus on Tyneside instead of the Hünsruck), I was reminded of this thread, and this question, and this point.

Episode seven is set during the strike, in 1984. Two north-east England MPs, one a Conservative minister, one a Labour backbencher, cross swords over the issue of the strike. In 90 seconds of sparring I think they (and the playwright who puts the words in their mouths, Peter Flannery) pretty much boil the marrow out of the bones of the whole issue:

PS The picture comes from a fine book called Yorkshire’s Flying Pickets In The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike by Silverwood miner Bruce Wilson with Brian Elliott, published by Wharncliffe Books.

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