The change the 1984 Miners’ Strike wrought on British society, was seismic in terms of the country’s politics, not to mention cataclysmic, once today’s so-called ‘broken society’ is taken into account. Lest one forget, the ghastly Margaret Thatcher regularly pontificating: ‘’no such thing as society.’’
Indeed, there is no such thing as society (anymore).
By starving the miners and their families into submission, the then Prime Minister paved the way for the onslaught of acceptable depravity in politics. In so doing, she very knowingly imported the nigh contagious obsession with the ‘self.’’ An awful North American dogma, so rampantly (and dangerously) out of control amid what’s left of current day British society. But don’t take my word for it, have a read of this lucid, compelling and all round excellent examination of the Miners’ Strike.
Written by two authors who clearly feel passionately about their subject, Marching To The Fault Line – The 1984 Miners’ Strike and the Death of Industrial Britain is the first book to tell it how it really was – from all sides. With unrivalled access to revealing new material (which includes recently opened records, private diaries and assorted interviews with key government and union figures), distinguished journalists Francis Beckett and David Hencke, have written the first full account of the strike.
Replete with revelations about leading figures on both sides of the struggle - Margaret Thatcher, Arthur Scargill, Ian MacGregor, Neil Kinnock and Norman Tebbitt among them - along with others who would eventually rise to prominence in New Labour; this book is on occasion, a totally gripping account of what was clearly, a defining moment in modern British history.
In the chapter ‘Not an Industrial Dispute, But A War,’ the authors write: ‘’Many of these communities were completely destroyed, with people out of work, turning to drugs […]. There is no doubt that this led to a breakdown in these communities, with families breaking up and youths going out of control. The scale of the closures went too far […]. This happened partly because the Prime Minister thought she was on a crusade against an Antichrist. After vanquishing the Argentinians, she was going to vanquish ‘the enemy within’ – the name she gave to thousands of British citizens who wanted, whether misguidedly or not, to be allowed to go on earning their living in the hard, dangerous but productive way that their fathers and grandfathers had done.’’
It is surely ironic, grotesque and shameful, that Thatcher referred to the striking miners as ‘the enemy within.’ These are the very same people, who in their thousands upon thousands, were among the first to lay down their lives in two World Wars. Thus enabling a civilised society.
Thus enabling the vile Thatcher to spout forth, her utterly misguided and hateful rhetoric.
That said, Messrs. Beckett and Hencke bequeath us with further irony, when they write of Thatcher’s bully boot boy incarnate, the then Trade and Industry Secretary, Norman Tebbitt: ‘’He now feels remorse. Perhaps mellowed by age (he’s seventy-seven), he regrets the damage that was done after the miners’ strike to working-class communities through the huge programme of pit closures. He still blames Scargill for the strike, but admits that the closure programme went too far […]. ‘Those mining communities had good working-class values and a sense of family values,’ he says. ‘The men did real men’s heavy work going down the pit. There were also very close-knit communities which were able to deal with the few troublesome kids. If they had any problems they would take the kid round the back and give them a good clip round the ear and that would be the end of it.’’’
In itself, this reads as if Mr. Tebbitt is having second thoughts about there being ‘no such thing as society.’ But what a shame it is, that his sunset years had to first descend, in order for him to ascertain common decency.
After all, common decency isn’t exactly rocket science is it?
Marching to the Fault Line is a brilliant book. It needs to be read. And if the truth be told, it ought to have been written many years ago.
As it is, it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the strike, and as such, is terribly important - even if only to read the following: ‘’Thatcher simply won the right to condemn her country to long-term impoverishment.’’
Marching To the Fault Line
- The 1984 Miners’ Strike and the Death of Industrial Britain
By Francis Beckett and David Hencke
Constable - £18.99