Thursday, 5 March 2009
Miners strike- 25 years ago but still remembered - even in Ipswich
Last night on the BBC, 'One Show' saw the first of what will be Summer of features about the miners strike of 1984. The piece last night featured Roy Hattersley and was a good short piece that featured ex miners and an ex policemen who had been a miner before he joined the force. though 25 years has passed it is obvious from the film that the strike is far from being forgotten and in some area's- South Yorkshire - for one, there still remains bitterness. I do have a worry that many of the articles and programmes over the Summer will portray the strike in more romantic terms. A sort of 'Billy Elliot' view.
I believe the miners were right to strike and what has happened to the coal industry since has proved they were right but they were badly led by Arthur in what became a Scargill v Thatcher battle and that took away the focus from the real suffering of the miners and their families.
Of course some good came out of the strike and the efforts of the wives and mothers introduced a number of females to the Labour movement.
In Ipswich, I remember miners coming to collect money in buckets and my parents helping them on the Cornhill and putting up a number of strikers in our house. I was home a lot of that summer as I was on extended sick leave from the Army after badly breaking my leg, what I can dispel is the urban myth that soldiers helped on the picket line, I have never found any soldier who was involved. In the military hospital we did have a number of policemen as it was thought they may get a hard time from NHS staff if they went to a normal hospital.
I also remember the music of that era, Paul Weller and Billy Bragg remain my favourites from musicians who got behind the miners and who would eventually become 'Red Wedge'.
This link, takes you to a BBC site, that features a slide show of photographs from the strike with a musical backdrop featuring both Weller and Bragg. I hope we do see a number of well made programmes about the strike but let us also look at how some communities have recovered and also how some are still suffering.