25 years is a long time to some people but; to those who have been betrayed in the most bitter of circumstances it is the blink of an eye; when serious trouble stalks a community and people rely on each other for their very existence there is no hiding place for anyone; it becomes a shared battle to survive and everyone relies on each other. When that reliance, that solidarity, that commitment is broken by the treachery of members of that community it follows those involved on both sides to the grave and IMO it deserves to. The 25 years is of course a reference to the Coal Dispute and its effect on mining villages and their families and on those who scabbed, a truly awful word and one which does indeed follow some to the grave.
I was involved along with my union branch led by my younger brother Hugh in supporting the miners; we ‘adopted a mining village’ called Oakley in Fife everyone donated money every pay day along with any other thing which could be used by the strikers including food, clothing etc. We went on picket lines and attended demonstrations and learned as we went along about what political struggle meant and the importance of solidarity, that’s why I will never forgive the miners who broke ranks and scabbed and they will always be the lowest of the low to me. We stood by the striking miners and their families to the bitter end and they eventually returned to work with heads held high, we have the evil Thatcher to thank for politicising so many people.
The media tried everything they could to harm the strikers from showing doctored news film which showed the strikers in a bad light to campaigns against their leaders mainly Scargill, who was vindicated by the end because his every prediction was proved accurate. The Sun had him a millionaire with union funds and living in a Spanish bungalow all, c**p of course, they also refused to print the fact that the leaders accepted no wages for the duration of the strike. Scargill proved to be a true leader; courageous, loyal and utterly trustworthy, lionised by the members and rightly so, Nottingham miners by contrast will bare the shame of their actions for life, they have made Nottingham a byword for cowardice and treachery.
Neil Kinnock was destroyed by the strike and he deserved to be so; his refusal to become involved with him coming from a Welsh mining constituency and being Labour leader exposed him as a coward and a charlatan, he sat on the sidelines and let his people go under with never a whimper from him; his position was then rightly untenable. Many people today still look back at these events with bitterness myself included; many lives, families and communities were destroyed and the memories remain painful but, as I said before we learned a lot.
At the end of the struggle we were invited to the miners club in Oakley Fife for a celebration of the events (celebration seems a strange word but that’s what it was) and we were treated like royalty, the miners and their families had only known us through posters going up every week from our branch in the middle of the village, they all wanted to meet my brother Hugh who had been their contact throughout , he was introduced at the event and he received the most electrifying, emotional standing ovation I have ever witnessed, he and I and our union members were speechless, yes even me, completely humbled, a heart rending experience.
I hope the memory of what took place never fades; I hope that what the miners did and what the union and working class movement did at the time is remembered for ever. Quite simply we can’t afford to forget, the lessons are too important.