The miners' strike 1984-5

Submitted by Anon on 6 March, 2004 - 8:46

We continue our analysis of the miners' strike with a recap of the events of 25 April-12 May 1984 and a look at how Labour should have fought.
The events

25 April: Labour Party national executive votes to support the strike and to ask every Party member to donate 50p a week.
26 April: High Court says "No" to NUM policy on investment of pension funds in Britain.
30 April: 150 strong women's picket at Thoresby colliery, Notts. They broke through the police lines twice.
End of April: Support committees begin to be set up.
2 May: Central Electricity Generating Board figures show more oil being used to counterbalance coal shortage.
4 May: West Thurock, Didcot and Aberthaw power stations shut down.
From May to August the strike was at its peak. About 80% of miners were out. There was some drift back especially in those areas were the strike was weaker: Notts and Staffordshire.
9 May: Scottish TUC day of action
12 May: Barnsley women's demonstration.

How Labour should have fought

A programme for mobilising the labour movement, from Socialist Organiser 10 May 1984
Neither the Tories nore their centralised gendarmerie are invincible. They are seemingly strong only because of the division in the ranks of the NUM and because of the general depression in the labour movement.
They are strong only because of the miserable quality of the TUC leadership, who do nothing to mobilise support for the mines and their picket lines.

  • No coal should pass the ports or travel on rail.
  • No miners' picket should be left isolated to face the police. Rally to the picket lines!
  • Trade union branches should demand that the TUC organise a general strike against Tory anti-union laws, against cuts and in support of the miners.
  • The Labour Party should come off the fence. Neil Kinnock's weaselling in the middle of the road is a disgrace to the Labour Party. Kinnock should do like the Labour Party chair Eric Heffer and stand on the line with the miners.
  • Labour councils should follow Sheffield's lead and object on Police Committees to the deployment of local police on Tory police-state duty in the coalfields. They should refuse to pay them.
  • The Labour Party should take the issue to the country. The Tories are creating a centralised national police force, and without any popular mandate or popular licnce to do so.

It is part of the same drive as the aboliton of major areas of local government.
If the labour movement throws itself into this fight, the miners can win.

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