The Miners' Strike 1984/85

Paul Whetton, Trotskyist Notts Miners Leader In the 1984-5 Strike

Author: 

John Bloxham

By John Bloxham
On Friday 3 March Paul Whetton, miner, trade union militant, socialist and Workers’ Liberty collaborator, died aged 66. It was the 21st anniversary of the end of the great miners’ strike of 1984-85. John Bloxam remembers him.

Paul Wetton who the striking minority in Notts in the 1984-5 strike was a supporter of Socialist Organiser

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Twenty years too late

Mick Duncan reviews "Faith", BBC1, 28 February

The Tory Party complained about William Ivory’s Faith, claiming it painted Margaret Thatcher in a bad light.

Ivory is a talented writer, and this feature length drama of love and betrayal, set in an anonymous Yorkshire town during the miners’ strike, certainly had its moments. But painting Thatcher in a bad light?

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The end of the “superpit”

The last pit in the “superpit” coalfield of Selby, North Yorkshire, closed last month and with it went 1,700 mining jobs. The coalfield — which consisted of five pits and one drift mine — covered 110 square miles, an area the size of the Isle of Wight. It was started October 1976, at a time when British capitalism thought coal was a good alternative to oil. When it opened, the Selby coalfield was praised by then Labour government as a “striking symbol of the re-birth of coal as a major energy source”.

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The Miners' Strike: Why did Notts scab?

For most miners, the Notts coalfield was synonymous with conservatism and right wing domination. It was the first coalfield to return to work in 1926. The home of “Spencerism” (employer’s union) and the main area of support for the introduction of an incentive scheme in 1977.

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The miners’ strike 1984-5

Christmas and unity

Christmas pressures tended to united pit communities. Socialist Organiser of 12 December reported from Kiveton Park:

“As television commercials paraded computers and spaceships before children’s eyes, Jenny Dennis had to tell her seven year old son Matthew that Santa Claus was a mere fantasy.

“Mathew reassured his parents that the sacrifice was worthwhile to preserve future hopes.

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The miners’ strike 1984-5

Socialist Worker, the miners and the “downturn”

By Jack Cleary, from Socialist Organiser 6 February 1985

Socialists need realism, honesty and candour in assessing the world around us. On the other hand we should have no business with unnecessary or premature defeatism. Anyone reading what Socialist Worker says could not avoid the conclusion that the strike is lost.

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The Miners' Strike 1984-5: Kinnock's Role

The Labour Party conference opened at Blackpool on 1 October. It overturned and overruled the platform line on the miners’ strike.

Arthur Scargill got a tremendous reception. The conference rejected Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s “statesmanlike”, even-handed condemnation of violence, by which primarily he meant pickets’ violence.

Conference condemned police violence, called for police to be removed from the coalfields, and thus implicitly sided with the pickets. (Members of the Socialist Organiser Alliance, forerunner of the AWL, originated the crucial clauses.)

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