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Standing in the shadows of the miners’ strike…

Submitted by on October 1, 2014 – 2:15 pmNo Comment

Enemy Within

The much anticipated Manchester screening of ‘Still the enemy within’, the crowd-funded film about the 1984-1985 Great Miners’ Strike, takes place this coming Monday, 6th October, at Cornerhouse.

The film won the Audience award at its premiere in June this year at the Sheffield International documentary Festival and following screenings at Durham Miners’ gala and the TUC conference in Liverpool, the film is now touring cinemas across the country.

It seeks to not only remember and commemorate the 30th anniversary of the strike but to tell the story from the side of the people who fought back. The documentary gives a voice to ex-miners, their families, campaigners and support groups. Unseen footage, photojournalism, reconstructed events and first hand accounts from mining communities tell the story of the fightback within the coal industry when Thatcher declared war on the miners and labelled them ‘the enemy within’.

Although the strike ended in defeat this was not inevitable, as one Yorkshire miner put it, ‘she (Thatcher) was entirely stoppable’ and there were several occasions when the strike could have been won. The Tories and the National Coal Board knew this only too well. In cabinet papers released this year the fear that they were about to lose in July and August 1984 is revealed and the NCB openly disclosed that year (1984) that it was the failure of the TUC to stop the movement of scab oil and coal that was the turning point in the strike.

The assault on the miners was not just about the coal industry though. It was about breaking the power of trade unionism so as to pave the way for neoliberal policies in Britain. We have been living with the consequences of the defeat ever since with privatisation, the casualisation of work, plummeting pay and conditons and the lowering of living standards. It is no accident that the film’s cinema release this autumn coincides with public sector workers going on strike over pay and a national TUC demonstration with the strapline ‘Britain needs a pay rise’.

This film is for everyone that not only has an interest in labour movement history but is also interested in the present fightback against austerity. The lessons from the strike are just as relevant for today – it is possible to win with solidarity and collective action from across the working class movement.

Get yourself to that cinema:
Monday 6th October, 6pm
Cornerhouse, Oxford Road Manchester.
Q&A following screening with one of the film’s producers, Mark Lacey and activist from lesbian and gay support group.

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