History: 25th anniversary of the British Miners’ Strike

Lessons of the year-long heroic dispute

Twenty five years ago this month, British miners were forced into strike action to defend their jobs, their communities and their way of life. The strike became a trial of strength between Thatcher’s Tory government and the miners that still reverberates throughout the workers’ movement and society.

The strike, as former Labour MP and political commentator Brian Walden remarked at the time, "was a civil war without guns"; a battle between the workers and the ruling class.

The miners held out for a year in the most determined show of strength; stiffened up by the magnificent solidarity of the working class in Britain and internationally.

That the miners were ultimately defeated was not down to their lack of courage or determination, nor the support shown them by the working class. Thatcher and the ruling class ultimately won but not through their own strength. Instead it was the right wing leaders of the trade unions and the Labour Party who stabbed the miners in the back and led to the social and economic devastation of the mining communities.

Click here to read more from ‘A civil war without guns: The lessons of the 1984-85 miners’ strike’ by Ken Smith (first published in 2004 by the Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) book)


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March 2009