What we hold against Margaret Thatcher is not that she was “divisive”.
Strikes and trade union history
If we believed in a hell, we would have no doubt Margaret Thatcher would now be in it.
University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY
Speaker: John Bloxam
Facebook event here.
Margaret Thatcher, one of the British ruling class's greatest ever fighters, died on Monday 8 April.
Widely reviled for policies that inflicted misery on working-class people at home and abroad, she reshaped British society in the interests of capital and, by breaking the power of organised labour, established a political consensus that remains dominant today.
But her victory wasn't inevitable. If, for example, the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (NACODS) had joined the National Union of Mineworkers on strike in 1984-85, the miners' strike could have ended very differently. And if the Labour Party and the TUC could have been forced into mobilising real support for the miners, the entire government would have been threatened.
Those key turning points are often less well-known than the outcome of the big struggles. We discuss the moments at which Thatcher could have beaten, why she wasn't, and what they tell us about the kind of movement we need to win.
Downloadable/copyable leaflet below.
February 1972. The miners were on strike over their pay claim against the Heath government.
It is July 1972.
On 11 September the TUC congress voted for "consideration of the practicalities of a general strike". To be sure, it only said "consider". From "consider" to "do" is a big step. And the unstated hint was that this would be a one-day general strike, a form of protest which in some countries is almost routine.
On January 1, 1962, wages were lowered by 30 to 35 per cent at the largest electrolocomotive plant in Novocherkassk.
Colin Waugh, further education activist and author of Plebs: The Lost Legacy of Independent Working-Class Education, spoke to Solidarity.
This year marks the 200th year anniversary of the high point of the the “Luddite” revolt (November 1811-February 1813).
In 1909, Tom Mann — one of the key figures of Britain’s “New Unionism” and the “Great Unrest” which followed it — wrote that the “essential preliminary condition” for successful struggle was “working-class solidarity”.