"Pride", a critically-acclaimed new film given a limited release in the US today, tells the true story of how a small group of LGBT activists became the biggest fundraiser for the year-long British coal miner's strike of 1984-85. The miners faced a pre-meditated, organized, thuggish, dishonest, deceptive, and illegal surveillance and smear campaign by the Thatcher government, which froze all mining union funds, cancelled their unemployment, and denied food and housing welfare to their wives and children, in an attempt to starve them out. For the first time, the British government trained Britain's police into a paramilitary force, bused in at great expense and in great numbers to overwhelm the protesters, using violent, repressive, and corrupt tactics against non-violent protesters, with prolonged police detentions and the indiscriminate arrest of over 11,000 British citizens. The government was supported by the rightwing tabloid media, who used sensationalist, crude headlines to shape public opinion. LGBT activists reclaimed one such headline as the name of their most successful benefit. Although the miner's strike was broken by the Thatcher government, the miners kept their promise to support the LGBT community, by marching alongside them at the front of London's 1985's Pride parade.. Later that year at the Labour Party conference, a motion was tabled that supported adding equal rights for gays and lesbians as part of the Party's platform. This motion was opposed by Labour's executive committee, but the motion went to a vote – and passed, thanks to the votes of the National Union of Mineworkers and their allies.
After an aborted exclusive deal with the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian has published the new short story from Hilary Mantel. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983
Newly released cabinet papers from 1984 reveal mineworkers' union leader Arthur Scargill may have been right to claim there was a "secret hit-list" of more than 70 pits marked for closure. The government and National Coal Board said at the time they wanted to close 20. But the documents reveal a plan to shut 75 mines over three years. A key adviser to then-PM Margaret Thatcher denies any cover-up claims. The miners' strike began in March 1984 and did not end until the next year. [more inside]
The recent Netflix House of Cards series starring Kevin Spacey was a remake of a very popular British political thriller of the same name that aired during the 90's. The show begins by tracking the dark political machinations and skullduggery of an urbane Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, who is conspiring to become Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher's resignation. [more inside]
"Britain's poor were absolutely and relatively better off until Thatcher was elected in 1979. Since then, the bottom half of society is worse off than it was in 1983." "In 1945, when Thatcher turned 20, the richest 0.01 per cent people in Britain received 123 times the mean national average income. By the time she turned 40 in 1965 that had halved to 62 times, and the year before she came to power, in 1978, it was at its minimum: just 28 times the average income."
The BBC documentary The Fishing Party captures the mood of the Thatcher era with devastating accuracy. First broadcast in 1986, it follows a group of four City businessmen on a fishing trip to Scotland as they air their opinions on politics, money, education, discipline, women and dogs. Hilarious and appalling by turns, the whole documentary can now be viewed on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (Bonus link: the director Paul Watson describes the making of 'Mrs Thatcher's least favourite film ever'.)
Margaret Thatcher has died following a stroke her spokesman Lord Bell has said. Details are still coming out but the Iron Lady of British politics was and is a divisive figure even today. She will probably be best remembered for her role in the coal miner's strikes and the Falklands War. Her life in pictures is already online. The obituaries have been written for some time.
How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity is James Meek's dissection of the systematic re-privatisation of the UK power industry.
Are you an enemy of liberal principles if you question the fact that, when local electrical engineers dig up the roads in London, they’re working for East Asia’s richest man, the Hong Kong-based Li Ka-shing? In north-east England, they work for Warren Buffett; in Birmingham, Cardiff and Plymouth, the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company; in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool, Iberdrola; in Manchester, a consortium of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and a J.P. Morgan investment fund.
"I learnt this song in Grimsby over in England about 1987. It was during the Thatcher era. There was all kinds of things happening, over in England. But I'll say one thing about Thatcher, some fantastic songs were written during her reign." Christy Moore -- Ballad of an Ordinary Man (SYLT)
Rumours abound in the UK about secret plans by the current conservative government to offer Baroness Thatcher, lately of ill health, a state funeral nearly exclusively afforded to the Royal family. [more inside]
GBH was a seven-part British television drama written by Alan Bleasdale [previously1] [previously2] shown in the summer of 1991 on Channel 4. The protagonists were Michael Murray (played by Robert Lindsay), the Militant Labour leader of a city council in the North of England and Jim Nelson (played by Michael Palin), the headmaster of a school for disturbed children. The series was controversial partly because Murray appeared to be based on Derek Hatton, former Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council - in an interview in the G.B.H. DVD Bleasdale recounts an accidental meeting with Hatton before the series, who indicates that he has caught wind of Bleasdale's intentions but does not mind as long as the actor playing him is "handsome". [more inside]
"My exact words were: I’d like to overthrow the government. I was a young firebrand and I wanted to answer honestly. I was very angry about the social injustice in Britain under Thatcher and I’m delighted that came into the show." - former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel on the shows 80s political stance. Terrance Dicks and Andrew Cartmel on Newsnight. Meanwhile former Doctor David Tennant gives his veiws on the Master-like characteristics of Tory leader David Cameron.
Norman Strike is blogging the 1984-85 U.K. miners' strike. From his account of the "Battle of Orgreave" (June 18, 1984): There was the coke works in the distance, squatting on the land and belching out smoke from Yorkshire coal. A black line of police spread across the yellow field in front, with horses to the rear and sides. . . . I began sprinting up the field, trying to avoid the slower lads. I made it to safety but was horrified at what I saw as I looked back down the field. Dogs were biting lads whilst others were being truncheoned by pigs and either led away or dragged away! It was a disgusting sight and one I never thought I’d see in this country. I’ll never forget it but worse was to follow. [more inside]
New Documents from the Soviet Archives reveal that as the Warsaw Pact was falling apart, Margaret Thatcher called Gorbachev to inform him that:
The reunification of Germany is not in the interests of Britain and Western Europe. It might look different from public pronouncements, in official communiqué at Nato meetings, but it is not worth paying ones attention to it. We do not want a united Germany. This would have led to a change to post-war borders and we can not allow that because such development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security. In the same way, a destabilisation of Eastern Europe and breakdown of the Warsaw Pact are also not in our interests.This backs up assertions from former German Chancellor Kohl's new memoir that Thatcher put up obstacles to German Re-unification, fearing the rise of a Fourth Reich.
The Mayfair Set [Google Video]. A BBC Documentary series on how City of London bankers systematically dismantled British industry from the 1960s-90s and removed the power of the state to protect people from the greed of the market A thought provoking documentary from Adam Curtis whose other documentaries The Power of Nightmares and The Century of the Self have been previously discussed and well received on Mefi. It is almost four hours long but well worth the effort.
Margaret Thatcher Dot Org. For all your Margaret Thatcher related needs.
Margaret Thatcher dies, aged 79. [hoax]
Flashback: Margaret Thatcher writes about Ronald Reagan. President Reagan saw instinctively that pessimism itself was the disease and that the cure for pessimism is optimism. He set about restoring faith in the prospects of the American dream — a dream of boundless opportunity built on enterprise, individual effort, and personal generosity. He infused his own belief in America's economic future in the American people. That was farsighted. It carried America through the difficult early days of the 1981-82 recession, because people are prepared to put up with sacrifices if they know that those sacrifices are the foundations of future prosperity.
Man Beheads (statue of) Margaret Thatcher. His "sense of 'satirical humour' left him no choice but to carry out the attack" on the £150,000 Maggie as 'artistic expression and [his] right to interact with this broken world.' Jury fails to convict and a retrial is scheduled. Perhaps there is a creative solution to replacing the head?
Another Prime Minister kisses ass. Maggie tells us to git 'em, because "it is best that the United States, as the only global military superpower, deploy its energies militarily rather than on social work." (NYT)