Miners Strike 1984: The Battle for Britain

Yeah they can get exploited by private companies like call centres instead, or leave their dying towns to go to London or Manchester if they want to do something different.

The problem wasn't so much what Thatcher did to the mines, but the fact that there was no real (perhaps a token effort) consideration of how those jobs could be replaced and how entire communities built on 100's of years of mining would function without a pit at the heart of it.

They were left to rot.
The Conservatives set out to do it, across all sorts of industries, take our own heavy industries for an example. She helped the yanks economical plan for Korea and Japan, and to stave off communism. She closed most of the car, motor cycle, shipbuilding and heavy engineer jobs and giving us all a good dose of unemployment.

Lads my age will tell you how bad things were here.
Thatcher believed the miners should have moved to London and become plumbers, gardeners, builders for City Bankers etc or if younger join the Armed Forces. She also encouraged Nissan to set up in the UK, however the Japanese car plants did not have enough jobs for 100,000 miners. Politically she blamed the Miners for bringing down Heath's Tory Government in 1973/4 which she was part of, so there was an element of revenge. She felt the Unions were too strong i.e. they could have an influence on governing the UK when she wanted them to have no power.

Around 43% of the UK voters voted for her so she thought that was her mandate. The model of ruling for the benefit of the whole country was broken, it became rule and govern through market forces and in practice a lot priviledge and vested interests based in the South East of England and around the World.

We were lucky when the Ironstone mines closed in the 1949-64 period, former miners went to work at ICI Wilton and Boulby Potash mine opened up. Regional funding and regulations were available to help ICI set up and operate. Of course Thatcher run this down and the results started to appear later with fewer job opportunities as manufacturing was 90% closed down in the UK. Its still happening see Port Talbot.
They had a ballot that voted against striking - so that was ignored

An NUM man interviewed criticised Scargill for not knowing what was happening the ground, and should have seen how things were by December

However Thatcher and The Tories clearly wanted to destroy the NUM - and didn't care about the job losses and communities
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I agree with the feelings WG, Thatcher destroyed lots of industries, she set out to do it after the early 70s seen the upper hand sit with the people who built the country.

However, I worked contracting for a while in South Yorkshire, Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster. The countryside is much like Durham and Northumberland, its wick with pit villages. I met with with an old guy one day calling back doing snags after a upgrade wire. He was one of lots I met and recognised why they had such poor health.
He was in a pit collapse which broke his leg badly and was lucky that they could dig him out. He had black lung, and hobbled about badly, poor lad lived very frugally. I got on about The Strikes and the industry, he was very mild mannered man. But he said to me he wished Thatcher had been around when he was 18.

I realised why he felt like he did, he said its an awful way to make a living and no man should have to do it without a kings ransom at stake. He felt he wasn't clever enough to do anything else. Pretty stark choice in reality.

Perhaps inadvertently Thatcher and her dogs saved the future generations in the mining areas from being exploited and an early death.
I agree with your post and sympathise with the guy you were talking to. The truth is that huge numbers of men died early as a result of working conditions in the pits and they had to be replaced eventually.

I understand that but my hatred towards the Tories of the day, especially Thatcher, is that the war against the unions was to put them in their place, show them that the Government and not the people had the power. She wanted to smash their power at any cost, and the miners and communities they lived in were collateral damage she was prepared to sacrifice for her power grab.

The mining communities and everything they were built on - brotherhood, standing together, being as one were smashed to smithereens for her lust for power. Put the unions and the working men in their place where they belong.

It's effects are still felt 40 years later. Families still divided over who did and didn't break the picket lines, villages and towns that are no longer communities, some families on 2nd and 3rd generation unemployment.

The working men in the collieries might have spent half their lives in muck, but they were a proud folk, strong, community minded. They looked out for each other, stuck together during the bad times and the good.

She destroyed it for no reason other than her own ideological war on the working class and the mining towns and villages are largely still a shadow of what they were.

For that, she can burn for eternity and should that be where I end up when I take my final breath, I'll take great satisfaction in watching her in flames.
The miners became the battleground for a class struggle that had been brewing for a long long time.

Not just the pit workers themselves but whole communities were destroyed.
On the whole one of the reasons she got away with it through the general apathy of the rest of the UK was the (was ever the way) the press focusing on the excesses of the Unions. And sometimes they were real.

I served my time in a factory in Darlo that operated a closed shop and witnessed firat hand those excesses where on a Friday if the weather was nice the workforce would walk out shutting the factory. And when they were told on the Monday they weren't getting paid for the Friday they walked out again.

I got made redundent a year out of my time, one to go in a department of 7. There were two volunteers, one with a year left before retirement and another who just wanted to do something else. The Company accepted both of them to go. The Union intervened and imposed their strict first in last out rule.
I collared the Convener on the way out and he got an understanding on MY personal impact.

So lets not pretend the Unions in them days were squeeky clean.

Now of course though the pendulaum has swung much too far the other way.
I remember reading a few pieces that allude to Thatcher and her scum government preparing for the strikes well in advance. They aimed to be brutal and didn’t care about the obvious devastation it would cause.

Thatcher got lucky of course too. North Sea Oil started to come online big time in the 80’s. This allowed her to shut down whole industries and massively reduce others, while keeping those impacted unemployed. Welcome to neoliberalism.
A couple of other sources covering the Miners Strike that have stuck with me down the years:

Mark Thomas' show The Red Shed about the collective memory of mining communities about what did and didn't happen during that era

GB84 by David Peace, which I bought and read because of the Red Riding Trilogy. the book is split between the fictional story being driven along, and on the opposite page is real accounts of the strike from miners involved. It was basically a harsh clandestine guerilla war fought by the police at the behest of Thatcher against working people.
Iam a steam loco driver at the NYMR and our coal cost over the last 2 yrs has gone from £150 a tonne to approximately £500 a tonne, 100% imported, we really could do with some British mines right now. With the coming closure of Port Talbot and Scunthorpe furnaces we really are becoming a third world country with regard to heavy industries, thanks Thatcher you evil witch and the tory r soles in power for the last 14 years !
Thatcher looked after her class.
She set out to destroy the NUM, because it was the biggest and most powerful union of organised labour.
She was intent to destroy anything which was going to stand in the way of her class interests - the neoliberal agenda.
The Labour Party and TUC were toothless lapdogs of capital and danced to the tune of the Tory press, the bankers, Thatcher, and her apparatchiks.
If there was one thing to learn from the whole strike, it showed that the ruling class are afraid of the power of organised labour.
She mobilised the powers of the state to beat the miners, turned the police into paramilitaries, used soldiers in police uniforms and broke every law in the land to achieve her aims.
She laid bare her contempt for the working class, but not the international bankers and rats in the City.

Iam a steam loco driver at the NYMR and our coal cost over the last 2 yrs has gone from £150 a tonne to approximately £500 a tonne, 100% imported, we really could do with some British mines right now. With the coming closure of Port Talbot and Scunthorpe furnaces we really are becoming a third world country with regard to heavy industries, thanks Thatcher you evil witch and the tory r soles in power for the last 14 years !
Same at the Great Central Railway. They are asking for “voluntary redundancies” and may have to reduce hours and make people redundant, because they can't afford the cost of coal, diesel, and energy. The prices have risen astronomically.(n)
Intersting about the price of coal - the agreed price was £65 per tonne in the early 1990s - Thatcher said this was too high as the newly privatised Powerr Stations could buy coal cheaper on the open market, say from Poland (Polish Government subsidised), Columbia (some dug by child miners) USA (open cast).

So the price has risen eightfold, but general wage inflation just over 3 times, some of the old pits would have made a good profit at todays prices.

Thatcher's vision was the UK as a nation of privatised workers, each in their nuclear unit, 3 bed semi with 2.2 kids. Ford Escort and caravan on the drive, copy of the Sun or Daily Mail, a few British Gas and BT shares in the bank. Each worker competing with their neighbours and doing what they are told by the people above them, as per in the Army or in her fathers Grocery shop.
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Just binge-watched the 3 episodes back to back. It was the Orgreave one that got to me. Mass corruption from the top of politics - Thatcher, obviously - through senior police and down to frontline police, with the miners used as meat to send a message to the working classes of this country: "Knuckle down, suck it up or you're next in line to have the sh1t kicked out of you, and then half a lifetime languishing in a prison cell for the privilege". And that shining beacon of truthfulness and best practice, South Yorkshire police at the heart of it all.