Norman Strike blogs the U.K. miners' strike.
November 5, 2009 7:42 PM   Subscribe

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.

Every day, the aptly named Norman Strike reposts an entry from his diary kept during the 1984-85 miners' strike in the U.K., which would go on to inspire works like Billy Elliot, U2's Red Hill Mining Town, and the Manic Street Preachers' A Design for Life.

Strike can be seen about 3:50 into this video, on stage at a November 1984 performance by the left-wing band The Redskins on Channel 4's The Tube. He tried to give a speech but his microphone was cut off. He later re-recorded the speech, which you can listen to here.
posted by chinston (9 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
On the one hand it's depressing that 24 years down the track, workers' rights in the UK are pretty much on the fulcrum between where Thatcher wanted them and where they would provoke some momentum for real political change. On the other hand, how awesome is it that the technology exists that allows people to hear a striking miner's speech that some dickhead producer at Channel 4 decided to keep from us at the time?

I realise it's been a while since that speech had any real power to do anything, but I imagine any similar attempt at shutting someone down today would result in tweets and blog posts and uploads to you tube that would completely route around attempts at censorship.

Maybe the imminent Tory government will give us the strikes that we need to demonstrate the technology in action?
posted by GeckoDundee at 1:40 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Now everyone has a large credit card bill and making payments for the huge plasma TV bought 'interest free' to worry about. Interesting how quickly society has become "fuck you"
posted by mattoxic at 4:22 AM on November 6, 2009

"Shafted reflects upon the near-blanket bias of the national media during the miners' strike, symbolised by BBC news' reversal of the sequence of events at Orgreave to suggest that picketing miners attacked the police...
...In contrast, the media's sympathetic treatment of the miners and opposition to the closure and privatisation of the surviving pits in the decade after the strike is a bitter reminder of the condescension of history - by this point it was too late."
posted by Abiezer at 5:20 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Fun fact: alot of the 'police' at Orgreave were squaddies. Defence of the Realm in action..
posted by the cuban at 5:42 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yeah, mattoxic, but if the downturn continues and if the Tories get in (neither of which seems unlikely) that will change very quickly. Having no job, a big fucking television, a huge credit card bill, and a Tory government makes for a different dynamic.

I know it's the 20th anniversary of no longer being allowed to use Marxist analysis, but there's probably been enough time passed that people will find you can say useful or insightful things about what's going down without having to believe that tanks in Hungary or Czechoslovakia were a good thing.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:05 AM on November 6, 2009

On the music of the strike: the indomitable industrial band Test Dept put out a record towards the end of this time with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir called Shoulder to Shoulder. I was always struck by how sad the speech a miner makes in gratitude of town solidarity for the strike (along with police bullshittery) in the beginning of "Shockwork" knowing now the end result of it all.
posted by zer0render at 6:22 AM on November 6, 2009

This is pretty amazing.
posted by chunking express at 7:34 AM on November 6, 2009

Have to say that I constantly have to explain to American friends why I'll not be mourning Maggie Thatcher. This is only one reason why.
posted by idb at 7:25 PM on November 6, 2009

My friend's fiancee has a bottle of champagne set aside for when she dies. Literally.
posted by chunking express at 7:50 PM on November 6, 2009

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