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Music: Police and Striking Miners

Doctor John 15 Jul 99 - 05:43 PM
Susanne (skw) 15 Jul 99 - 08:03 PM
Susanne (skw) 17 Jul 99 - 09:06 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 17 Jul 99 - 11:03 PM
gargoyle 18 Jul 99 - 12:05 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 18 Jul 99 - 03:25 AM
gargoyle 18 Jul 99 - 05:30 AM
Legal Eagle 18 Jul 99 - 06:48 PM
The_one_and_only_Dai 19 Jul 99 - 07:04 AM
Doctor John 19 Jul 99 - 01:45 PM
teller 20 Jul 99 - 08:34 AM
George 20 Jul 99 - 08:57 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 20 Jul 99 - 09:54 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 20 Jul 99 - 09:56 AM
20 Jul 99 - 11:26 AM
Legal Eagle 20 Jul 99 - 07:37 PM
George 21 Jul 99 - 06:15 AM
teller 21 Jul 99 - 07:24 AM
George 21 Jul 99 - 09:55 AM
Big Mick 21 Jul 99 - 10:22 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 21 Jul 99 - 10:36 AM
22 Jul 99 - 08:25 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 22 Jul 99 - 07:48 PM
teller 23 Jul 99 - 09:03 AM
Legal Eagle 23 Jul 99 - 07:01 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 24 Jul 99 - 03:19 PM
GeorgeH 26 Jul 99 - 06:42 AM
Gareth 11 Sep 02 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,Boab 12 Sep 02 - 03:52 AM
JudeL 12 Sep 02 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Wee Willie 12 Sep 02 - 01:16 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 12 Sep 02 - 11:17 PM
GUEST,Toro Oca 25 May 06 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,folkiedave- cookieless 31 Dec 08 - 07:42 AM
The Borchester Echo 31 Dec 08 - 08:10 AM
Cats 31 Dec 08 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,vectis 31 Dec 08 - 11:04 AM
Big Al Whittle 31 Dec 08 - 11:46 AM
Phil Edwards 31 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM
Stringsinger 31 Dec 08 - 03:37 PM
GUEST 01 Jan 09 - 06:29 AM
The Borchester Echo 01 Jan 09 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,Doc John 01 Jan 09 - 07:14 AM
Cats 01 Jan 09 - 07:24 AM
Steve Hunt 01 Jan 09 - 07:58 AM
Dave Hanson 01 Jan 09 - 08:14 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jan 09 - 08:30 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Jan 09 - 02:28 PM
Peter the Squeezer 01 Jan 09 - 03:13 PM
GUEST 01 Jan 09 - 07:12 PM
Dave Hanson 02 Jan 09 - 03:42 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jan 09 - 04:20 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Jan 09 - 05:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Jan 09 - 07:49 PM
Cats 02 Jan 09 - 11:20 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 09 - 04:51 AM
The Borchester Echo 03 Jan 09 - 05:01 AM
Folkiedave 03 Jan 09 - 06:25 AM
Dave Sutherland 03 Jan 09 - 07:18 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 09 - 08:19 AM
Ruth Archer 03 Jan 09 - 10:26 AM
Weasel 03 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jan 09 - 10:44 AM
Cats 03 Jan 09 - 11:52 AM
NormanD 03 Jan 09 - 12:07 PM
Ruth Archer 03 Jan 09 - 12:30 PM
Ruth Archer 03 Jan 09 - 12:41 PM
The Borchester Echo 03 Jan 09 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Ian 03 Jan 09 - 03:46 PM
Folkiedave 03 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM
Phil Edwards 03 Jan 09 - 05:45 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jan 09 - 06:08 PM
Ruth Archer 03 Jan 09 - 08:05 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jan 09 - 08:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jan 09 - 08:39 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Jan 09 - 06:45 AM
Cats 04 Jan 09 - 07:25 AM
Vic Smith 04 Jan 09 - 07:44 AM
Folkiedave 04 Jan 09 - 08:04 AM
Ruth Archer 04 Jan 09 - 09:09 AM
Big Al Whittle 04 Jan 09 - 02:30 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jan 09 - 02:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 Jan 09 - 04:07 PM
Folkiedave 04 Jan 09 - 06:12 PM
Nigel Parsons 04 Jan 09 - 07:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 Jan 09 - 08:55 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 09 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,Guest 05 Jan 09 - 03:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jan 09 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Ian Ferguson 05 Jan 09 - 11:44 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 09 - 02:41 PM
Ruth Archer 06 Jan 09 - 02:59 AM
richd 06 Jan 09 - 03:20 AM
Folkiedave 06 Jan 09 - 06:02 AM
Ruth Archer 06 Jan 09 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Mr Dazed & Confused 06 Jan 09 - 07:04 AM
richd 06 Jan 09 - 07:36 AM
theleveller 06 Jan 09 - 08:58 AM
Stringsinger 06 Jan 09 - 12:21 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jan 09 - 12:27 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jan 09 - 12:28 PM
richd 06 Jan 09 - 03:16 PM
Millindale 06 Jan 09 - 03:42 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jan 09 - 07:41 PM
theleveller 07 Jan 09 - 03:47 AM
GUEST,Ian 07 Jan 09 - 04:03 AM
The Borchester Echo 07 Jan 09 - 04:05 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 09 - 04:17 AM
GUEST,Ian 07 Jan 09 - 07:33 AM
theleveller 07 Jan 09 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Sallie Oughton a miners daughter from South 09 Feb 09 - 11:55 PM
GUEST,Ian Gill 31 May 10 - 05:30 AM
Bonzo3legs 31 May 10 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Essex girl 31 May 10 - 06:28 AM
Fred McCormick 31 May 10 - 03:04 PM
Stringsinger 31 May 10 - 04:39 PM
Leadfingers 31 May 10 - 07:11 PM
Bonzo3legs 01 Jun 10 - 03:54 PM
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Subject: Police and Striking Miners
From: Doctor John
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 05:43 PM

Did anyone chronicle the 1980's UK miners' strike in song? They should have done. The battle between Maggie and King Arthur. The breakup of the NUM and K.A. proved right in the end. An unsuccessful attempt to discredit him by a certain fat investigative jounalist - no appology. And our image of the Birtish police shattered forever: no longer PC Dixon but class traitors in armour and on horseback. What an excellent CD it would make! Dr John.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 08:03 PM

Dick Gaughan made a tape 'True and Bold' in support of the 1984/85 strike, and Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger wrote a whole set of new songs for it, called 'Daddy What Did You Do In The Strike'.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 17 Jul 99 - 09:06 PM

The songs on the tape 'Daddy What Did You Do In The Strike' are the title track, Villains' Chorus, Holy Joe From Scabsville, The Media, Only Doing Their Job, Miner's Wife. I'll post them in separate threads. I also have the following info but no account of the strike as a whole. Does anyone know of one?

[1988:] As in the miners' strike of 1844, [in the 1984-85 strike] a profusion of poems and songs sprang from those involved and from their supporters. [...] The veteran singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl contributed what are probably the outstanding songs: [Daddy What Did You Do In The Strike & Only Doing Their Job]. The tune for the latter is based on The Chapter of Kings, which was used for both Jone o' Grinfilt and The Keelman's Stick. (Roy Palmer, The Sound of History 117f)

[1989:] The miners' strike [of 1984/85] lasted 358 days, and [...] cost fourteen deaths (one of them officially a murder), nearly 10,000 arrests, thousands of injuries to both miners and police, and over £7 billion of taxpayers' money. It was a dispute about pit closures and the future of mining communities that was seen by much of the media and the public in more simple terms, as a show of strength between a hard-line left-winger, Arthur Scargill, the miners' leader, and an apostle of market forces, Margaret Thatcher. The media, for the most part, reflected public opinion in their hostility towards the miners, particularly as the bitterness and violence grew. (Robin Denselow, When the Music's Over 212)

The tracks on Dick Gaughan's album 'True and Bold' are:

DRUNK RENT COLLECTOR, AUCHENGEICH DISASTER, BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (in the DT), WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON (in the DT), ONE MINER'S LIFE, SCHOOLDAYS OVER (in the DT), COLLIER LADDIE (in the DT), POUND A WEEK RISE, MINER'S LIFE IS LIKE A SAILOR'S (in the DT as Miner's Lifeguard), FAREWELL TO COTIA, BALLAD OF EIGHTY-FOUR. I'll try and post the missing ones before long. - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 17 Jul 99 - 11:03 PM

Suzanne, what a pair: Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. What a fine bunch of songs. Somewhere I have a tape made at the miners' strike, from the miners' point of view, about half songs and half interviews with striking miners, union organizers, miners' family members. I remember that the "Miners' Wife" song is on that tape, but I don't recognize the others (of course, since I haven't heard it in years, my memory isn't very clear). I do remember a "What'll we do with Mac MacGregor?" (and Margaret Thatcher and several other names) to the tune of "Whattaya Do with a Drunken Sailor." I also remember a different song about the media, a couple of television reporters or that ilk, describing the benefits they're reaping by suppressing the miners' side of the issue. I'll look for the tape and post the songs if I find it (it was given to me by a dog park friend of mine, a union organizer in Richmond, California, who was a veteran of the strike. His first name is Pat, but I can't remember his last name {his dog's name is Toughy--or Tuffy]). --seed


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: gargoyle
Date: 18 Jul 99 - 12:05 AM

Be carefull of Seed

He speaks like he knows the cause....(30 years ago at a Berkley teacher's strike)

But today,,,,,,he pays his dues to "the man."


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 18 Jul 99 - 03:25 AM

Ah, Gargoyle. It's always great to hear from you. --seed BTW, to what "man" do I pay dues (church lady says "Could it be...[voice gets loud and resonant]...SATAN?)? And the Berkeley Teachers' strike was in 1975, only 24 years ago this September.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF 84 (Dick Gaughan)
From: gargoyle
Date: 18 Jul 99 - 05:30 AM

Ballad of 84

words and music by Dick Gaughan - 1984

Come gather round me people and I'll sing to you a song
About a famous battle that went on for so long
It's a tale of grief and courage of pain and bravery
One of the finest pages written in our history
We all know songs that tell of workers' struggles long ago
Of UCS, Tolpuddle, Shrewsbury, Pentonville and so I'm here
To sing to you the praises of the women and the men
Who dared the might of Tory spite the future to defend

Twas in March of 1984 the gauntlet was thrown down
When MacGregor told the NUM, "These pits are closing down"
"Och, get on your bike, MacGregor", the miners' answer came
"We fought the Board in 74 and we'll fight you once again"
From S Wales across to Yorkshire, from Scotland down to Kent
The miners showed the NCB that what they said, they meant
Except the scabs who sold their future out to Thatcher and her gang
And turned traitor to their class, their names forever damned

In Fleet Street and in Downing Street, a wondrous sight was seen
New-found converts to democracy soon all began to scream
"You can't strike without a ballot", well-fed mouths were heard to bleat,
"You won't ballot us out of our jobs, we're voting with our feet"
Soon armies of blue uniforms were marching through the land
With horses, dogs and riot shields and truncheons in both hands
But the miners took on everything the government could throw
And went back again to battle on with shouts of "Here we go!"

The battle wasn't only only by courageous mining men
For the women joined the struggle fighting side by side with them
In every area of battle women hurried to the fight
In rallies and at meetings and out on the picket lines
And in support groups up and down the land our comrades rallied round
The cry went up "They Shall Not Starve" and cash and food were found
To keep the miners and their families in solidarity
And show the world the working class would never bow the knee

Let's pause here to remember the men who gave their lives
Joe Green and David Jones were killed in fighting for their rights
But their courage and their sacrifice we never will forget
And we won't forget the reason, too, they met an early death
For the strikebreakers in uniforms were many thousand strong
And any picket who was in the way was battered to the ground
With police vans driving into them and truncheons on the head
It's just a bloody miracle that hundreds more aren't dead

So here's to Arthur Scargill, Heathfield and McGahey too
Who led the strike together in defence of me and you
And Malcolm Pitt and Davie Hamilton and the rest of them as well
Who were torn from home and family and locked in prison cells
But the battle will go on until the working class has won
For the right to work and decent lives belongs to everyone
We'll go forward now in unity, let's share the miners' load
There can only be one answer - socialism, here we go!


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 18 Jul 99 - 06:48 PM

Ah, but was Scargill right in principle? Ok, he fell for a set-up by the malevolent Thatcher that was worthy of anything in Lustbader's "Tactics of Mistake", but the world is a poorer place. His "Socialist Labour Party" claims to be the 4th biggest party in English politics.

Another good song is Coope Booyes and Simpson's "Didn't I go like a lamb to the Slaughter".


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 19 Jul 99 - 07:04 AM

Slightly weird contribution - "Radio Chaos" by Roger Waters (yes, him) was about the Miners' Strike at a very personal level.

BTW, I hope we don't go the way of the Republican Song threads with this one. As someone who was 15 when the strike was going on, and living in Port Talbot at the time, I recall with nothing but bitterness the attempts of the Scargillite Trade Unionists trying to force steel workers from going to work. Flying pickets, hundreds strong, would gather at the entrances of the Abbey, and brick cars and buses as they drove in at changeover time. Attempted arson, beatings, threatening letters, all arrived at one or more neighbours' houses during the summer.

There was no principle involved.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Doctor John
Date: 19 Jul 99 - 01:45 PM

Heck, there's no black and white in this. Thugs and yobs will join any side just to practice a bit of thuggery or yobbery. To me the whole point was Maggie trying to break the mineworker's union and the miners, who were not only powerful but working class heroes who always attracted public sympathy. Arthur Scargill - no matter what you thing of him - was proved to be right. To me the worst scenes (hence the thread title) were seeing the police (whatever happened to the British Bobby*) armed and horsed like a medieval knights fighting the miners. Did children really play "police and striking miners" in the play ground. *Fact:- During the last year one person per fortnight has been killed by a speeding police car and one person a week dies in police custody; perhaps they only arrest the terminally ill! Figures on BBC Radio 4.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: teller
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 08:34 AM

The_one_and_only_Dai has a point......there was wrong on both sides of the fence - and while nobody supports the tactics employed by Mags & her minions, can we afford to condone the, equally abhorent, physicality used by the flying pickets, et al ? And for that matter, has anybody tried to chronicle, in song, the reasons why the 'scabs' did what they did? And this takes us back to other mining disputes immortalised in song that also failed to give the other side of the coin - I think of, in particular, 'Blackleg Miners.'


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: George
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 08:57 AM

A few points from this thread:

Someone asked: > Ah, but was Scargill right in principle?

Yes, actually, history suggests he was. He claimed there were plans to virtually shut down the mining industry in the UK and that was what the strike was about. That was never the public perception of the strike, but his prediction proved true.

Whether he was right in how he conducted the strike is another matter. In particular, in his insistence in defying the law FOR THE SAKE OF DOING SO (as in not calling a strike ballot when he would clearly have won such a vote) - well, IMO there were cases (as just instanced) where I belive he was seriously and dangerously wrong.

As for violence on both sides of this dispute - to my mind one characteristic of this strike was the level and amount of deliberate, planned violence by the police against the miners. And, indeed, the high level of other illegality on the part of the police (illegal road blocks; illegal confiscation of food destined for strikers). It seems to me that the police were - unofficially - given 'carte blance' in their conduct of the policing of the dispute, with a clear sub-text that anything they could do to undermine the dispute would meet with the Government's approval. And by heavens did they make use of that licence. [Which is not in any way to condone violence initiated by strikers.]

As for the deaths during the strike. As my memory serves me (do correct me if anyone knows better) the case of murder was where a large stone was tipped from a bridge onto a blackleg's car. If this is the case referred to, it's important to note that on appeal the conviction was reduced to one for manslaughter.

Again IIRC Gaughan's "True and Bold" LP was NOT a miners' strike benefit (I'll have to check at home) but a Scotish TUC celbration. However there was a double-tape benefit recording (on Fuse records, IIRC; that being Roy Bailey's label). Very varied material, almost all excellent. It was my favourite in-car listening for many years (to the extent that the tape stretched!). I could look out track listings if anyone's interested. Opens and closes with a wonderful speech of Tony Benn's in the House of Commons, dubbed over the Grimethorpe Collery Band playing "Raise your banners".

And - while strictly not on-topic - don't forget the film "Brassed off" . .

Just my few bob's worth

But as for Scargill's "Socialist Labour Party" claim to be the 4th biggest party in English politics - dream on, Arthur!!

G.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 09:54 AM

The murder case was indeed where the stone was dropped off a bridge onto the A463 near Blaenau. The occupant of the car was not a 'blackleg', as you so colourfully put it, but was a guy driving a car. I don't think his job, name or background were ever mentioned in the press or on TV. The charge was slackened because the kids who dropped the rock were just dropping a rock, and hadn't set out to kill anybody.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 09:56 AM

In any case, even if he had been a blackleg, are you implying that it's OK to drop rocks on people who don't toe the union line???


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From:
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 11:26 AM

Please read what I wrote . . I've already answered your question. Remember it was you who said the death was murder - apparently well aware that, in fact, a higher court had over-rulled that charge. Quite properly, if you look at the thing logically rather than emotively.

And why object to my "colourful" use of "blackleg" and then go on to use the word in exactly the same sense yourself?

G.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 07:37 PM

Well I quite admire Arthur Scargill.

Shall we try the Liverpool dockers next?


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: George
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 06:15 AM

Oh, I admire Scargill, despite his failings.

As for the Liverpool Dockers - I thought the TV DramaDoc they made of their story (UK Chanel 4 about a week ago) was remarkably good - including (for the not quite one and only dai) some sympathetic consideration of WHY workers will strike break, and the stresses of doing so. Far more dimensions to it than I'd expected. AND I thought the music was good - I didn't spot any credits for it; does anyone have any info on this?

G.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: teller
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 07:24 AM

Whilst the arguments for and against the taking of a life ( whether intended or not, whether involved in the dispute or not ) are relevant to the thread - and I'm sorry, but NO 'cause*' is worth the loss of life - does anybody know of any songs that put the alternate viewpoint? * By 'cause', I'm refering to disputes of the nature of the miner's/dockers and not the general mayhem that goes under the catchall banner of 'war'.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: George
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 09:55 AM

Firstly, I don't think that anyone has suggested that loss of life in the miners strike - on either side - was justified.

Secondly, there are those who have decided a "cause" is worth dying for . . Unfortunately some of those are prepared to kill others at the same time . . .

Thirdly, why the separation between war and other "causes" - a distinction which is increasingly blurred, anyway . . Was the recent action in the Balkans a war? Strictly speaking, no.

Forthly, what "alternative viewpoint" are you looking for? Alternative to what?

G.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Mick
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 10:22 AM

So then it is your opinion that when the armed troopers were dousing the tents at Ludlow with kerosene and shooting at the children in the hole in the ground that the miners were not justified in taking arms and trying to stop the attackers? I am not flame throwing here, this is a historical circumstance that one can use for an example. There are plenty of examples right up to current times that we can use. I would love to be able to say that no cause is worth even one life. And I cannot speak for what anyone else would do. But as a person who has spent his life in a cause, I can tell you that there are indeed circumstances and causes that I would give my life for, ........and take a life for, as hard as that seems. In my utopian world this would not be so, but in the real world it is.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 10:36 AM

Mick, I suspect that your cause isn't in support of keeping your place of employment open.

I agree with you in that there are causes worth dying for. However, this doesn't mean that there are any causes worth killing for.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From:
Date: 22 Jul 99 - 08:25 AM

Dai, trouble is the "keeping your place of employment open" is often at the cost of having someone else's place of employment shut down. One of the "successes" of the Thatcherite approach to industrial relations is by outlawing much industrial action it all too often turned groups of workers in related industries against one another, letting "the bosses" get on with their dirty work. (Excuse rather dated terminology, but it still fits.)

As for your second point. I agree with your underlying sentiment - but was stopping Hitler not a cause it was necessary to kill for (the extreme example is usually the best!). But deaths in industrial disputes aren't usually caused by workers feeling their cause is worth killing for; more situations in which feelings and tempers are running high and occasionally explode. All too often with the encouragement or even provocation of those entrusted with maintaining "law and order".

Regards

George


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 22 Jul 99 - 07:48 PM

There were some songs that came out of the strike of the coal miners on Cape Breton Island in the 1920's, but I am afraid I know none of them. (George Seto who posts here sometime might know some)

One was written in the 1980's, I know, about one miner killed, a certain William Davies. (NOT the former premier of Ontario, just some poor guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.) I think it was called Remember the Miners, and it was on a long deleted LP of a benefit concert done when the miners struck again in the 1980's. That concert was broadcast nationally on the CBC.

My father remembers that strike as a boy. The miners in Sydney Mines, Cape Breton rushed the company store, which they called the Pluck Me store. (And there is in fact a song call The Pluck Me Store -- the Cape Breton miners' choir The Men of the Deep sing it) You always ended up "owing your soul to the company store" in Cape Breton just as much as you did down south. Anyway, they attacked it and with it went all the records of who owed what to the company -- the company couldn't do anything collect because it seems they had no back up records, and the miners made sure that the originals were no longer around. The store wasn't rebuilt and IIRC the miners eventually started a co-op store.

Anyway, the government sent in troops who at first were not very popular with the locals -- chucking bricks and them and whatnot. My father says however a lot of the soldiers, mainly WWI vets as were many of the miners, were sympathetic to the miners and used to turn a blind eye when they and their children went to the coal piles to sneak off with some fuel. Some of them eventually married local girls, in the time-honoured tradition of soldiers the world over. There are several books about this strike.

I have to admire people of that time. Here when I try to get people to volunteer for community efforts it is next to impossible to convince them to pry themselves away from their television sets. These miners and their families not only took action, but were quite prepared to get shot at in the process. Different generation, I guess.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: teller
Date: 23 Jul 99 - 09:03 AM

George. The alternate view point of which I speak is that of the scab/blackleg throughout the history of industrial/social dispute. What I'm searching for is some sort history of THEIR reasons, recorded in song. It matters not a jot from where it comes, or the dispute to which it pertains, but surely there are songs about these people; or is the 'truth' that history is written by the victors as prevelant in music as it is in the rst of the world? As to the by-product of this thread, the question of taking a life for a cause, being Jewish, I've heard any number of 'reasons' and, quite franknly, they have a distinctly hollow ring to them.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 23 Jul 99 - 07:01 PM

Vested interests contol lawmaking and administration. They criminalise, disenfranchise marginalise and/or impoverish dissent. Thus the only avenue to reform becomes violence. Morality lies in the choice of target.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 03:19 PM

The secret is to make yourself one of the vested interests. The last twenty or thirty years certainly show examples of the marginalized making themselves into vested interests. I'd rather deal with the problems of being a vested interest than the problems of being marginalized.

But talk is cheap and action speaks. I had a friend in university who always used to spout that property is theft. So one night I stole all his records and ate the food he had in the fridge. He wasn't happy and didn't see the irony.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: GeorgeH
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 06:42 AM

To: teller Date: 23-Jul-99 - 09:03 AM

George. The alternate view point of which I speak is that of the scab/blackleg throughout the history of industrial/social dispute

Thanks for the clarification. It's not much help, I know, but one of the things which impressed me about the recent BBC TV "DramaDoc." about the Liverpool Dockers' Strike was that it did give serious consideration to WHAT made people scab. (What makes this remarkable to me is that the film was made by the striking dockers.)

Back to your question . . it seems to me that very often the strikers were a community - in which folk music making would exist naturally. On the other hand, the blackleg work force was often pulled together as a hotch-potch of desparate (for work/money, generally!) people from different souces . . . I suspect that work force provided much less of a fertile ground for new songs, and certainly would lack a sense of "community" or common purpose in the strike breaking they were undertaking.

And, of course, in recent years the Blacklegs have tended to be on the WINNING side (not that it did the UK breakaway miners union any good in the long term . . )

BTW it strikes me there's a degree of contradiction in the views on killing I've expressed in this thread. Over the weekend I found a great (IMO) piece of (prose!) writing which addressed that contradiction - I'll post it as a BS subject here later this week!

G.


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Gareth
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 06:54 PM

I came across this historical thread by accident.

3 Points from a South Wales perspective.

1/. "The Yorkshire Miners will fight to the Last Welshman" - actual quote from 1983.

2/. Scargill lost a National Ballot 6 months before the strike on a vote on the Closure of the Albion Pit at Cilfyndd (Nr Pontypridd)

3/. There was a determined campaign by Thatcher to smash organised Labour, and the Nationalised Industries - Scargills Kamikazi Tactics made it possible. There is no doubt that if in the summer of 84 Scargill had acepted the compromise offered by McGregor when he had NACODS to fight as well that Bloody Womans head would have rolled within 6 months. - And that was a price we all paid !

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 03:52 AM

If you want to be picky, Arthur Scargill DIDN'T tell the truth. He suggested that Thatcher was going to close twenty coal pits. He was wrong---she practically closed the bloody lot!! I had left my mining days behind when the strike arrived, but was closely involved in assisting my old mates as much as I was able. A tale; Hunterston ore terminal, Ayrshire was being used by the Tory Govt. to import blackleg coal. The Ayrshire miners set up a picket/blockade. One of my old mates was in the picket line. Suddenly, a busload of police arrived on the scene, and a melee began as they started to break up the picket. Somebody remarked on the fact that none of the cops had their number displayed on their uniform. My friend was taken aback when he suddenly came face to face with his own nephew among the "police" contingent. The lad had very recently joined the ARMY!---Go figure-----


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: JudeL
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 04:43 AM

There is some very graphic film footage of the clashes on the picket lines. The phrase "use mimimum force" was obviously a total unknown as they show police (some on horses) and the army rather than keeping the peace and preventing trouble and violence, they were deliberately inciting it, running down pickets, chasing them in gangs, beating them up, often when it was very clear that the individuals were not armed in any way, had not offered any violence and were in fact trying to distance themselves from the violence. This includes footage of a very young Arthur Scargill being chased and struck. I too think it's a shame that Scargill allowed himself to be manipulated by the "powers that be" including the media and the milksnatcher. Jude


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Wee Willie
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 01:16 PM

Amazing it took the Miner`s strike to define the real British bobby. Almost every Irishman travelling back and forth from England could have told you about these scum-bags, I was held up time out of number and missed my connection each time, I will never forget the bastards smirking with delight at getting one over on Paddy. It takes a special person to be a Policeman and they are usually shit-heads.Wee Willie


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Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 12 Sep 02 - 11:17 PM

The first post states there was no apology for the discrediting of Scargill. In fact the then editor of the Daily Mirror wrote a huge apology earlier this year (May 27). The Guardian gave it massive prominence. The apology was then rebutted by three reporters who had worked on the Scargill story (click here.

I have read this thread fairly quickly, so maybe I overlooked it, but I didn't see mention of another death, at Ollerton, in Nottinghamshire.

George is wildly mistaken in suggesting that the outcome of a ballot would have been a foregone conclusion. If that had been the case, Scargill would certainly have had the ballot (and thereby won the strike). He wasn't a complete idiot.

But he had come into office playing up to his image as a reckless militant (he had led wildcat strikes in Yorkshire previously). Before the 1984-5 strike he had called for industrial action in two earlier disputes, and had been defeated in ballots both times. He was understandably nervous about risking a third ballot.

NEvertheless, to proceed without a ballot, with winter over, and pit-head stocks at an all-time high (part of Thatcher's calculated preparation for a showdown with the NUM), was always destined to be a lost cause. Many mineworkers in the most efficient areas (north and south Nottinghamshire) refused to come out without a ballot. In previous disputes their record in supporting the majority verdict had been exemplary, even where their own interests might have dictated another course.

Incidentally, George, the ballot requirement was of the NUM's own making, going back years before a legal requirement to ballot was imposed on all unions.

Back in 1970 the union rule required a 65 per cent majority for strike action. They got 60 per cent, and apart from Scargill in Yorkshire, the whole union respected the ballot. But they did amend the rule, reducing the required majority to 55 per cent.

In 1972 they balloted again, got 57 per cent, and the whole union came out. This was discipline that other unions would have died for. If Scargill could have been confident of winning a ballot in 84, you can be damn sure he'd have run one.

It would have spared him the humiliating response he got from rail and general unions (whose support had been so critical in earlier victories): "How can we ask our members to stop handling coal when your own members are still turning it?"

One other mistake by Arthur (whom I actually quite like) needs a mention. When it was all over, Mick McGahey, himself a much respected NUM hardliner, (long-standing council member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and its former president) urged Arthur to build bridges with the splinter union, the UDM. Mick realised that to have two rival unions serving one contracting industry was simply playing into the government's hands. Arthur flatly refused, and reaped the consequences.

Arthur may have been "proved right," but it was a hollow victory, and I've always marvelled at how much capital his supporters have made out of it.

Of course he was right that Thatcher wanted to run down UK coal extraction. That was plain as a pikestaff. The question should be: what good could he have hoped to achieve by running a strike on Thatcher's terms, at a time of her choosing? The fact that he did, and that coalfaces stood idle for months, becoming wholly unworkable, just helped make his warnings a self-fulfilling prophecy.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SOUL DEEP (Paul Weller)
From: GUEST,Toro Oca
Date: 25 May 06 - 01:07 PM

Paul Weller and The Style Council supported the miners nearly to his detriment

Hear are the words to the 12-inch single

Ciao
Toro Oca


Soul Deep
(Paul Weller)

The Council Collective

Hon. Councillors: Vocals Junior Giscombe
Jimmy Ruffin Dee C. Lee Vaughn Toulouse
Dizzy Hites. Bass Leonardo Chignoli
Recorded: Solid Bond Studios, London
September 22 / 23 1984

Getcha mining soul deep with a lesson in history
There's people fighting for their communities
Don't say their struggle does not involve you
If you're from the working class it's your struggle too

If they spend more on life as they do on death
We might find the money to make industry progress
There's mud in the waters there's lies upon page
There's blood on the hillside and they're not getting paid
There's brother against brother there's father against son
But as for solidarity I don't see none - no no

Soul deep a lesson in history

It's been going on ten months now gonna take another ten
Living on the breadline with what some people send
Where is the backing from the TUC
If we aren't united there can only be defeat

Think of all those brave men women and children alike
Who built up the unions so others might survive
In better conditions than abject misery
Not supporting the miners is to betray that legacy

Let's change that let's fight back

I said everybody's running around in struggle
You gotta help out in this struggle yeah
Let's all stick together
Everybody come on and be one
I said the TUC ain't working none
There just out there having fun
Come on everybody lets shake a hand
And fight on for the miners cause

There's mud in the waters there's lies upon the page
There's blood on the hillside but they're not getting paid
There's brother against brother there's fathers against sons
But as for solidarity I don't see none

Let's change that let's fight back

Up north the temperature's risin'
Down south she's wine and dinin'
We can't won't let the government win
It means death to the trade unions
So the cash it cost to close 'em
Is better spent trying to keep 'em open

She makes a mockery of the unity
Got us puppets in the chains of inhumanity
Try to feel the pain of those seeds planted
Now are the things that we take for granted
Like the power to strike if we don't agree
With the bosses that make those policies

That keep us down and keep us dumb
So don't settle for less than number one
Strike back fight back let's change that
No pit stops no closures
We want the truth we want exposure - now

Gotta identify with the working man
So hard trying to stay alive
Trying to survive

United we stand divided we fall
Everybody in the land come together one and all
Support your brother in his struggle for his rights
Stand up tall come on join the fight - everybody

There's mud in the water there's lies upon the page
There's blood on the hillside but they're not getting paid
There's brother against brother there's fathers against sons
But as for solidarity I don't see none

We got to stick together as one


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,folkiedave- cookieless
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 07:42 AM

Let me try that again.

There was an incident supposedly at Bolton-On-Dearne I believe when the miners built a snowman which was an effigy of a policeman and Chief Inspector Nesbitt ordered them to knock it down.

They refused the order, so he knocked it down himself by driving a police car at it - but it had been built around a concrete post.

A song came out of this of which this is the only snatch I know:

"The miners built a snowman and Nesbitt knocked it down" X 3
to the tune ff "Glory Hallelujah".

Whether the story is true, and indeed the whether the song came out of the actual incident I have no way of knowing.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:10 AM

There were lots of ad hoc songs though not very memorable (at least I can't recall them), except for Kay Sutcliffe's Coal Not Dole.
Then there's Alex Glasgow's Close The Coalhouse Door, though that's earlier, having been written before Alan Plater's 1960s drama of the same title and incorporated into it.

There was a lot of songwriting associated with the 1972 building workers' strike against the lump, a memorable one being Shrewsbury 24 about the flying pickets trial at Mold Crown Court when Ricky Tomlinson and two others were jailed. Sandra Kerr used a MacColl tune used for The Fight Game, though I suspect it was nicked from somewhere else.

Well done the spammer who managed to revive this thread!


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Cats
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:35 AM

Jon Heslop was living in Pontypridd at the time of the Strke, working in the Welsh Office and was the Vice Chair of Wales TUC and chair of IPCS at the time. He was involved in many of the very high profile union meetings, including the one where a General Strike was called for. He was living in the mining community and close to them. He happened to be in a pub in Porth one lunchtime and saw some old men who were talking about The Strike. It was only after a while he relised they were talking about the 1913 strike and not the 1984 strike. By the time he had got home he had written 'Old Soldiers' a song about The Strike, Within a week it had been recorded by Calennig on their Snowy Days of January album and was being sung all over Wales and beyond. One a cold frosty February morning he was called out of his bed at some unearthly hour and told he had to be at the local pit gates to see the miners go back. He went and saw the procession come down the street, union banners held proudly on high and led by the Brass Band. As they got to the gates they played Old Soldiers and that was what his friends went back to their pit with ringing in their ears. He always says it was better than having a number one hit. Last year friends of ours happened to be in a pub in Newport and there was a lad of about 20 playing in the bar. Out of the blue he began to play Old Soldiers and you can imagine his surprise when they all joined in with the chorus. That lad wasn't even born when Jon wrote the song.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,vectis
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:04 AM

The Banner Theatre did a lot of concerts in support of the striking miners and released a tape of some of the songs called "Here we go". It has about 20 songs on it including "Maerdy" (still being sung by Dave King and me)and is still available direct from the theatre.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:46 AM

The thing was that it was a far from clear cut dispute. I lived pretty much in the eye of the storm in a Nottinghamshire mining village at the time. I still live there - only theres no miners nowadays. That year and a bit, we had coppers patrolling our streets protecting the strikers houses from the other lot, who were in a big majority in Nottinghamshire.

Musicians coming down from Yorkshire to work in our studio, were routinely interrogated and the cars stopped and searched on the motorway, to make sure they were not carrying weapons and flying pickets.

The depth and complexity of feelings were far too hard for most of the media to grasp. you just felt you were hearing total bullshit through the TV and papers. I suddenly understood what the people of Northern ireland had been going through. Outsiders just didn't dig it. In a way you understood the idea that the best thing for us in Ireland woukld be to piss off and leave them to it - if London government couldn't understand Nottinghamshire - what chance Belfast?

I could tell a hundred stories about that year. My partner in the studio lived in Pontefract in the heart of strikers country. just incredible and contradictory feelings and thoughts for everyone. I think only a hatred of Thatcher and Macregor united everyone.

Song is a very slight artform compared to the symphony and the poem and the novel, or painting. You couldn't help but feel most songs were lacking in insight, and a sort of reductio ad absurdum of an incredibly complex set of feelings and situatiions.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM

One of Gruff Rhys's strange psychedelic songs is a strange psychedelic number about digging in the ground until you find hieroglyphics, mummies, Excalibur, etc. Not obviously relevant, but the last line goes like this:

"So help me out because I'm digging for treasure -
I've dug deep for the court of King Arthur"

Surely no coincidence!


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 03:37 PM

Stateside: "Come all of you good workers, the truth to you I'll tell,
Of how the good old union has come in here to dwell.

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?" (Florence Reese)

Woody's 1913 Massacre and the Ludlow Strike songs.

Uncle Dave Macon's "Buddy Won't You Roll Down The Line?"

"The goons and the ginks and the Company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made
the raids....." Woody's Union Maid.

There are so many good strong UMW miner's songs here in the States.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 06:29 AM

Yeah, makes good arm chair socialism, and through that perhaps good songs. After all, songs are a part of media, just like tabloid newspapers.

I was a Yorkshire miner, and our pit voted not to strike. Our union delegate was visited at night, and the next day recorded that we had in fact voted to strike.

I had a baby to keep, and yet the union enforcers all had clips of money, (my union dues I assume) and none for me unless I accepted a dodgy MOT certificate for my off road car and used it for fly picketing.

The first post in this thread spoke of King Arthur. He was and is a knave. A very brutish knave who was happy that his thugs knocked on our doors warning us about our children's continued health if we went back to work.

I feel a song coming on. It is about the two bottles of champagne I keep at any given time. I have to keep two in case Thatcher and Scargill die the same day and the shops are shut.

Music is an abstract. Yes, sing songs of past bravery and class struggle. You will always find idiots to cheer you. In the meantime, music is for enjoyment and there are thousands of people who were affected badly in the strike, some still bearing scars 25 years on. Somehow, I don't hear fellow ex miners singing such songs, just armchair socialists like Roy Bailey and other cross bearers looking for a hill.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:01 AM

I read the two posts above in puzzlement, wondering just what the authors imagine they have to do with the brutal, class-motivated role of the police in the British miners' struggle against pit closures and for jobs.

The anonymous Guest spews a lot of bitter, unsubstantiated anti-union accusations but the oddest statement is that "music is for enjoyment". Music in the context of fighting for and defending hard-won democratic industrial rights can and should be angry and defiant.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:14 AM

Glad to see my thread's still going and hello to Frank Hamilton!
I remember teenagers with 'Coal Not Dole' T-shirts during the strike but now it's 'Say No To Coal'. Makes me think of the chap who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey amid cheers only to be executed less that a week later at the insistance of the same crowd.
Doc John


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Cats
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:24 AM

Guest, I am so sorry you feel like you do and I can understand why. We saw miners with nothing in their houses on Christmas Day as they had sold their furniture to buy their kids presents and have something on the table for dinner. These same men and women are still trade unionists and some of them still sing the songs of The Strike. They are proud of what they did and their part in history. It is not just 'armchair socialists' who sing about the strike. Some of them were there, took part, still sing and are still union members.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:58 AM

There was a great double cassette release at the time called: 'Undefeated,' which is worth picking up if you ever come across it. Martin Carthy, Robb Johnson, Ron Kavana, Roy Bailey, Jim Eldon, Chumbawamba, TV Smith and a host of others.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 08:14 AM

Ewan MacColls fine song ' The Media ' was about the press and TV attitude during the strike,

Strikers are traitors, paid agitators, miners are surley brutes,
But don't let the viewers see the coppers teaching 'em with their boots

eric


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 08:30 AM

Diane - believe you me - there was all that going on and more and worse and both sides were at it. at the time , you couldn't substantiate it - half the time you simply couldn't believe it.

It was a complex situation. The Notts and Derbyshire miners were pissed off with the yorkshire lot because they had not backed them up when loads of pits had been closed down at the time of lord robens and even before.

Miners felt railroaded and intimidated on both sides into the positions their local mines/unions were occupying.

The only song I can remember resonating at the time was just after the strike when Dave Guy and Tony (I forget) of Kelly's Heroes wrote 'a reconciliation song'. Dave was a Selston miner and the piece had real meaning for anyone who heard it. Rooms full of people really moved and communicated with.

Dave Guy (a Christy Moore soundalike and worshipper) was incidentally one of the few men I saw capable of singing folksong to really tough working class Derbyshire audiences - not your PTA lot!

I think Dave moved to Ireland - after gigging in America a bit, running a pub and drinking a fair bit. One of the few visionaries of the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 02:28 PM

Guest,
Don't you dare sneer at those who supported the miners as "armchair socialists" and "cross bearers looking for a hill".
We did what we could for a whole bunch of reasons; some of them political and for self-protection - the strike was as much about smashing the unions and robbing us of our voice as much as it was about redundancies - we found that quickly enough when the strike collapsed.
I'm sure you had your reasons for throwing your support behind Thatcher and becoming one of 'Maggie's miners'; I knew plenty who had just as good a reason for going back, but chose to bite the bullet and stay out.
I know from bitter experience what it was like to see your workmates cave in and wave their pay-packet under your nose on a Friday night.
Scargill did what he was elected to do and supported his men - it's a pity that all the miners didn't do the same.
Incidentally - "Music is an abstract."
Crap - music has always been used as a political weapon - some of the earliest songs - in Latin and English - can be found in Wright's Political Songs of England. Ireland and Scotland's political history is recorded in their songs.
The feller who wrote "If a man were permitted to make the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation" (Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun; 1655-1716) gets my vote any day.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Peter the Squeezer
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 03:13 PM

My abiding memories of those sad days are of the Metropolitan Police officers forcing their way into the homes of striking miners, and terrorising their wives and children, all on the orders of the Right Honourable Bitch for Finchley. Such tactics succeeded in setting back police work in what was left of those communities by twenty years, but then her basic philosophy was to totally destroy any sense of community and co-operation betweeen the working classes of the UK.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:12 PM

Jim Carroll and others...

Sorry about being classed as guest. It should have put my name, Ian, as usual.

1. I love how you have automatically decided I became a Maggie's miner, whatever the hell that means. I left during the strike, found a new career and never looked back.

2. Nobody asked anybody to be a class warrior. The strike was about whether we wanted coal or not. That made it far more reaching than just jobs for members, but to say that by being a miner, you want a change of government is like saying you talk tosh because you are called Jim.

3. Armchair socialists are the reason I and many others became sad at the state of folk clubs, uncomfortable with mealy mouthed wannabe politicians using folk clubs as a soap box and making assumptions about my work, lifestyle, politics and views.

4. I agree with Peter the Squeezer and his memories of the police state, but not wishing to let the truth get in the way of a good song.... I also have memories of Scargill's thugs knocking on my door, (not aware that I had left) assuming I was back at the pit, telling me what time my wife and child went out shopping, and how accidents can happen.

The strike was a bad time, very bad for many people on all sides. It is only 25 years ago, which is not long at all really. This thread started with somebody saying hey! let's have songs about heros, or words to that effect.

As neither Thatcher or Scargill were heros, as those who were on strike lost everything, as those who worked lived in fear, the only people who seemed to lick their lips and relish this hero worship were the armchair socialists.

During the strike, as a member of the Labour party, I sang songs at a rally, the speakers being Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner. Yes, I too was an idealistic firebrand.

Two months later, I was a sadder, older, wiser person. I left the pit and the labour party. Having 400 people cheering away as you sang makes you see the power of song. I could have sung / said anything that night, and now in reflection, thank God I stopped. If I want to change people's lives, I could become a politician. To use the guitar is not far removed from using the editorial of a tabloid newspaper.

Like I said above, I have two bottles of champagne in the house at any time...


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 03:42 AM

The police weren't just licking their lips, they loved every minute of the hours of overtime they were getting paid, I worked at the Post Office at the time and in the early hours one morning sat in a cafe full of thugs, sorry policemen on their way to the picket lines, every one of them bragging about their. Scargill new car or Scargill holiday in the Bahamas or Scargill swimming pool.

A friend of mine was a police Inspector at the time, he told me how their boss told them all to get a twenty pound note out and wave it at the pickets.

eric


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 04:20 AM

Ian,
Sorry if I over-reacted - the miners strike was a traumatic time for all of us and had implications on many of our lives - especially on those of us who relied on a pay packet at the end of the week.
Whether they liked it or not, the strike was not just about coal, but about the rights of workers to be represented by a Trades Union - Thatcher picked her enemy carefully and was happy to use the police force as a private army to smash the miners union. It could just as easily have been the dockers or the electricians......
It was also about defending communities which depended on mining for their livelihood - I, as a supporter of Trade unions, and as a human being, was proud to be part of that. When the miners strike was lost, we all dipped out; some of us foresaw that; that's why we got involved.
I'm glad you found your niche elsewhere - many thousands didn't.
"If I want to change people's lives, I could become a politician."
Nowadays politicians don't change things - they perpetuate them - if we haven't learned that, we've learned nothing.
Folk song has ALWAYS been a part of people expressing their opinions and emotions about their lives and trying to improve their lot - the cotton industry, the mining communities, conditions at sea or on the farms - you name it, there's a song about it. Right up to the recent 'troubles' in Ireland songs were used as stones to throw at 'the enemy' (whatever side of the fight you happen to sit on). Personally, I'd rather them than bombs and bullets.
What are you proposing - that you ban songs that don't fit your particular philosophy from the clubs?
"I have two bottles of champagne in the house at any time..."
Delighted to hear it - wonder how many ex-miners can afford to say the same?
By being a 'sadder and wiser person' - you totally concede the victory to Thatcher - wouldn't sleep at nights if I did that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 05:02 AM

"By being a 'sadder and wiser person' - you totally concede the victory to Thatcher"

well it wasn't a score draw, was it?
she beat the shit out of us and we had another fourteen years of the tories in power.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 07:49 PM

Derek Brimstone once said, 'If we'd had The Alamo over here, we'd have forgot it, cos the yanks really got done there. But yer actual yanks, they haven't got much history, so they really like singing about the little bit they have got.'

I feel the same way about the miners strike, we really got done there.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Cats
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:20 PM

Jim you are right about it being an attemept to get rid of trade unions. Rumour had it that the next group on her hit list were the teachers.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:51 AM

"I feel the same way about the miners strike, we really got done there."
Hope you're not putting this up as an excuse for not making the effort Al! Given that Thatcher's best friend was Augusto Pinochet, it's interesting to speculate what Thatcher might have tried if there had been no opposition!!! At the very least, Cats has the right of it.
By the way, there were heroes during the strike - thousands of them. They were the ones who made the sacrifice in the first place and voted to strike rather than accept mass redundancies, and the ones who turned out on the picket every morning, and the ones who stuck it out to the end, and the women who supported the strikers, ran the homes and made sure the kids were fed and clothed with no money coming in, and the fund-raisers, and those who put up with the police turning the country into a police state on behalf of Thatcher, and those who ignored the press scum telling us daily that the miners were 'holding the country to ransom, and all the other participants who seem to get ignored when these things happen. No big S on their chests, but heroes just the same.
If you want more conventional heroes, there's those who faced the baton charges and horses at Orgreave and the physical intimidation elsewhere.
Not forgetting Freddie Matthews who was crushed to death by a strikebreakers lorry at Keadby.
They all fit into my idea of 'heroes', and have my gratitude and admiration.
Scargill wasn't a hero - he did his job, but suppose when you think about the union officials who have sold us out, taken the establishment's shilling (and their place in the company boardrooms and in the House of Lords), I suppose doing your job is a form of heroism.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 05:01 AM

press scum

Oi, I was a reporter (when I wasn't organising benefits) throughout the strike, though I didn't feel a "hero" either, just doing what needed to be done.
There's an image that got wide currency at the time of a police officer on horseback at Orgreave raising a baton to a "picket" on the ground.
That was me


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Folkiedave
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 06:25 AM

Coming from Sheffield we did see a lot of the action one way and another.

Two abiding memories. The first one may be apochryphal but it is a good story. And relevant to the thread.

One snowy day the miners at Bolton on Dearne built a snowman in the shape of a policeman with a helmet on top. A particularly nasty inspector called Nesbitt ordered them to knock it down. When they refused he personally drove a car into it. They hadn't mentioned the concrete post it was built around.

"The miners built a snowman and Nesbitt kncked it down" x3 to the tune of John Brown's Body and sorry - I don't have a last line.

A long time afterwards when the miners at Orgreave who WERE prosecuted finally came to court the manipulation of the video images led to the cases being dropped. They showed the miners throwing missiles and the police chasing them. The sequence of actual events was preecisely the opposite to that.

Of all the people there at Orgreave not one single person was ever convicted of an offence. That includes the police in full riot gear battoning unprotected people.

I just know which side I was on.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 07:18 AM

Tony Duggan is the name that you are looking for Al


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 08:19 AM

Countess Di,
Whoops - sorry; Maybe I should have been more selective.
Coming from Liverpool, my reaction to the press tends to be kneejerk - still haven't forgotten Hillsborough,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:26 AM

"the strike was as much about smashing the unions and robbing us of our voice as much as it was about redundancies"

Indeed. The unions have never recovered, and probably never will. Most people don't even understand unions anymore, particularly in the younger generation. When you consider how the working classes have been slowly disempowered and disenfranchised over the past 30 years or so, the breaking of the unions represents, IMHO, a seminal moment in what has amounted to a concerted and strategic campaign. The Tory press may demonise the unemployed underclass, but who the hell created them in the first place?

Stringsinger: Billy Bragg did a very fine update of Florence Reese's Which Side Are You On? based on the British NUM strike of the 1980s.

"It's hard to explain to a crying child
Why her daddy won't go back
The families suffer but it hurts me more
To hear a scab say 'sod you, Jack'..."


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Weasel
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM

I hate to say what some will no doubt find provocative, but there were some unions who needed to be controlled - like the one who brought us out on strike for a day because there was no ice cream in the works canteen. (The shop steward stood on a box and told us that ice cream with our dinner was "a basic human right")


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:44 AM

"Hope you're not putting this up as an excuse for not making the effort Al! Given that Thatcher's best friend was Augusto Pinochet, it's interesting to speculate what Thatcher might have tried if there had been no opposition!!!"

It wasn't me making the effort. So who knows. its an interesting question. It presupposes 20/20 hindsight.

Really who the hell knew in 1979 what the Thatcher years had in store for us. I felt enormous foreboding. The Callaghan government were stupid and the tories seemed if anything to have even less purchase on reality.

It was all done so dishonestly. Both sides not stating their true objectives openly. You had to merely guess what the motives of all parties were.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Cats
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:52 AM

Ruth is right, and wrong at the same time. The unions as we knew them in the 1970's and 1980's have nevr recovered but the number of peope joining a union now is the highest it has been for years and many of them are young people. Unions have changed with the times and are providng for their memebrs the best that the new century has on offer. You cannot compare the old style of union with the new style. Nonetheless, I cried when I was instructed by my union to cross a picket line as that was something that cut right through. I handed over a days wages to the striking union local branch to split amongst them. Not much, I know but these were the people who worked in my department and I am their line manager.   I now work for my union 2 days a week and am incredibly proud of it.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: NormanD
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 12:07 PM

"...There's an image that got wide currency at the time of a police officer on horseback at Orgreave raising a baton to a "picket" on the ground.
That was me".

A much remembered picture too.

Respect to you!


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 12:30 PM

Cats, I don't know what industry you work in, but in my experience of Local Authority very few of my colleagues belonged to the union. As a mature student in the 90s, I remember when we went from a position of automatic membership of the NUS being conferred with acceptance of our university ID card, to membership being optional. My (younger) colleagues were not really bothered one way or the other. I found it disturbing.

You're right, the "old-style" unions are gone forever. At one time unions stood for solidarity, and people looking out for one another. If union membership is currently rising, I suspect it's from an instinct to cover one's own arse rather than the kind of commonality of purpose and intent which drove the "old" unions, which were often the lynch-pins of their communities. Now that whole communities are no longer employed in the same industry, the union's community role is redundant.

Despite the emasculating of the unions which Thatcher effectively managed, I must raise my cap to Unison, who have certainly been there when I needed them, and to the NUJ, who have also been fantastic for me and mine in the past.

I have never crossed a picket line. Just saying.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 12:41 PM

"...There's an image that got wide currency at the time of a police officer on horseback at Orgreave raising a baton to a "picket" on the ground.

That was me"


Do you mean that you took the photo, Diane? I'm pretty sure that the woman in it was identified as Lesley Boulton, who was involved with the miners' community in Sheffield.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 01:10 PM

The pic of me was taken by the Morning Star photographer who was also there, as I wasn't doing both myself that day. It went in Socialist Worker too. I imagine there were quite a few images of that kind as I was by no means the only person towards whom the mounted police were swiping their batons.

My less scary and far more edifying memories of the strike were the benefit concerts. There were very, very few artists who wouldn't do the gigs for expenses only. One agent, though, complained "why is it always X, Y and Z?" When the artists heard about this, they switched agencies, not wishing to be associated with someone not 100% behind the miners.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Ian
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 03:46 PM

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your last post to me. I am not too sure about conceding to Thatcher and all that, and just out of interest, it is cheap champagne, although more because neither deserve a decent vintage..

My point was, as always, trying to raise debate. I do appreciate your taking the heat of this.

I was trying to say without pointing it out too easily, that music is a wonderful instrument of propaganda, and whilst making the singer popular, makes the subject uneasy.

I moved away from the socialist movement as I decided that two wrongs do not make a right.   It is my problem, my having to deal with it. But please forgive me for not getting too excited when hearing Billy Bragg or Roy Bailey glorifying the thugs who knocked on doors of miners in Nottinghamshire and yes, Yorkshire, threatening them.

We decried the USA elections when Bush got in through bad vote counting, we were outraged when Westminster Council gerrymandered housing to get tory voters in swing wards.

Yet recording pits as having voted to strike when they voted not to strike is somehow OK if it fits in with a point of view? Using miners to overthrow a government in a Western democracy is OK??? I don't remeber being asked to vote on overthrowing an elected government. Even Joe Gormley stated that was not his intention in '74.

I was at Orgreave. Like many of my colleagues, I was dismayed by the numbers of people there stood at the back shouting "Charge lads!" Not been down a pit in their lives, especially not the women amongst them... 50 of us on a coach afterwards vowed not to be involved again. We were sick of seeing our union dues in the back pockets of agitators offering us our money if we used our cars for secondary picketing.

Songs can and will be sung about class struggle. Songs will be economical with the truth because that is how recording events often is, (see tabloids for details.) However, at the risk of letting the truth get in the way of a good song, there are many people, many ex miners who were disillusioned with the strike, could not understand why the strike ballot was held, when the 6 month long overtime ban was depleting stocks and drawing MacGregor into negotiating. But Scargill, McGaghy, Capstick and their mates claimed to be representing miners, but were representing undemocratic political movements, as all those I have just mentioned happily admitted at the time.

Yes, songs have been written (wrote a few myself) and yes, the details will be lost in the haze of time until it will be a tale of us versus them.

In the meantime, let me end by mentioning the last time I saw Roy Bailey. He sang "Blackleg Miner" and I counted over 20 people who supped up and left that night in Sheffield (Grapes, Trippet Lane.) I was amongst them.

You see, us versus them is OK so long as we know who "us" are. Perhaps this should be in the threads about why folk clubs are dying / losing relevancy / losing numbers / where are the young 'uns?


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Folkiedave
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM

He sang "Blackleg Miner" and I counted over 20 people who supped up and left that night in Sheffield (Grapes, Trippet Lane.) I was amongst them.

Roy Bailey sings protest songs. He is well known for it. What did you think you were going to get? Lullabies? And when precisely was this? After the 1984 - 1985 strike?

Certainly not the Sheffield I knew at the time by the way. You would have struggled to find 20 people in a folk club that would pay to go to a folk club and then leave. And you would certainly have struggled in the Grapes.

But it is an interesting concept. Thre are songs about incest, rape, murder, etc etc,,, do none of them want to make you leave?


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 05:45 PM

Thre are songs about incest, rape, murder, etc etc,,, do none of them want to make you leave?

Presumably Ian wouldn't feel those songs were directed at him personally in quite the same way.

As I said on another thread, the Blackleg Miner isn't a song I feel comfortable with. If you compare it with the Yahie Miners (which may well be its source) it looks very like a song that's been polished up by an outsider with definite political views - and had its aggression level turned up to 11 in the process. It's not a song you could sing if there were any strikebreakers in your street - not if you wanted to talk to them ever again.

I was solidly behind the NUM in 1984-5, and if I could relive those years I would be again. (My grandfather was a striking miner in 1926; they got beaten that time, too.) As people have said, everything Scargill said about the government's plans was true - where are the pits now, and where are the unions? But the Left doesn't do itself any favours by making out that every working miner was a Thatcherite, a mercenary or a class traitor. People at the sharp end had some very hard choices to make. Those of us who were on the outside can't possibly know what it was like, or how we would have reacted.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 06:08 PM

Blackleg Miner was particularly offensive.   I can remember similar scenes in Mansfield, and sutton in ashfield folk clubs. It was the song - not Roy Bailey. some idiots thought they they were being 'relevant' by singing it - yeh like singing 'Old black Joe' at a black panther meeting.

still we have these arguments everyday on mudcat - middle class people can't see that many of the 'working class anthems' are of their time and as such utterly offensive to a modern audience.

I can remember a year into the strike, a guy went back to work in Pontefract and was beaten to a pulp outside the WMC where my mate was gigging. Not really the subject for rejoicing and community pride.

As for the villification of the police. a big topic of conversation at the time was, is it the police we are facing? there were lots of stories of soldiers put in police uniform. secret service men hanging round the fringes of the miners - collecting evidence. unauthorised phone taps.

I'm sorry - it wasn't a situation that reduced to simplistic formulae of marxist ideology.

the trouble was that nobody was telling the truth, and no one was in a rush to believe the truth that many had arrived at, but couldn't bring themselves to face.

Tebbit was on telly saying that if the miners packed in the strike - not a single job would be lost in the mining industry. The Notts/Derby miners had been through this twelve years earlier - when Alf Robens had given similar assurances - and afterwards the men who had given Robens their trust never struck another blow.

the notts/Derby lot saw it as a comeuppance for the Yorkshire blokes who had refused to back them with strike action in the 1960's. they could see that their own turn was coming - so they might as well grab some money whilst they could. they didn't believe tebbit.

scargill was on telly saying that the country would be lost without his deep mine coal. how lost has the country been?

The labour party upper echelons kept a frigid silence - they knew damn well they would be pusuing similar policies themselves.

Would the miners have been better getting the money and that the government spent on police action and putting it into their communities - bribing other industries in? would Thatcher have given them THAT much money, to a load of people who never have voted for her in a thousand years anyway.

i don't know if it was worth fighting for, I'm damn sure it wasn't worth dying for.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 08:05 PM

"still we have these arguments everyday on mudcat - middle class people can't see that many of the 'working class anthems' are of their time and as such utterly offensive to a modern audience."

Rubbish.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 08:38 PM

Oh come on Ruth! roy bailey is one your traddy big hitters. If even he couldn't see that the sentiments of Blackleg Miner was pretty damned upsetting to people living in places which previously had been decent, peaceful and law abiding - when suddenly violence was being committed on the very streets regarded as home. then somethings gone wrong with the vision.

God help you. But then I suppose that is the problem. and its the reason so many folk clubs are empty..

Its a bit like these Ruth Rendell novels where the murderers are all fascinating neurotics - rather than social casualties. its the middle class viewpoint - working classes my dear, are just inpenetrably weird!.

art as an entertainment. its why the blues was so offensive to black people for many years - like black people were just stereotyped as dissolute sexual toys.

Its why Prince heathen is grimly sat through and tolerated rather than enjoyed. domestic violence nowadays - woman to man or vice versa isn't remotely entertaining. and does it reflect the experience of the poor sods caught up in these situations?

Does it never occur to these people singing these songs that the folk they may be singing to, may be in these situations, or their children might? I've lost count of how many of my wifes friends have had daughters married to some awful brute.

In folk music, the music is tangential, the important thing is the 'folk'. they are in front of you and it their lives you should be trying to write about.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 08:39 PM

happy New Year! by the way!


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:45 AM

"But then I suppose that is the problem. and its the reason so many folk clubs are empty.."

I've never run a folk club, so I can't help you there. But I do work on festivals. Having booked and seen Roy Bailey on several occasions, I cannot remember anyone walking out in disgust at his choice of material. And before you come over all prolier than thou, I don't believe that folk clubs were packed with ex-miners but folk festivals are full of middle-class, wine swilling hoorays. As it is not a requirement to take the social and political history of every attender at the door, it is always possible that someone may be offended by pretty much any folk song. But it is equally possible that someone who hears the song, and has experienced something similar, might feel moved to find that their deeply-held and unexpressed emotions have been articulated skilfully by another. I have had experience of this myself - the fact that the singer could not possibly have had the experience himself firsthand (as he was a man) was irrelevant - I was still deeply moved. But maybe that's because I'm not working class enough or something.

Roy Bailey's show with Tony Benn, The Writing On the Wall, is especially popular. The Nottingham Evening Post selected it (as part of Loughborough Folk Festival) as their folk gig of the year for 2008. I don't think any ex-miners wrote to the paper to complain about this choice, but I could be wrong.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Cats
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:25 AM

Ruth, I am a teacher and we are seriously unionised, mainly for 'insurance' purposes but I deal with everything from bullying heads to redundancies, paternity and adoption leave to can you check my pay and everything in between. The stats are not just from teaching, though, but for all sectors and are from the TUC


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:44 AM

During the strike in 1984, our band was asked to do a dance for the Iford & Kingston Conservative Association. Apart from me, all the band refused to do it, so I raised a scratch band after telling them of my scheme.
We did the dance and at the end, after I had ensured that we had been paid, I, as caller, announced that the entire fee was going to be given to the miners' strike fund. We packed up and left in stony silence and giggled all the way home.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Folkiedave
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:04 AM

Well done Al.

But then I suppose that is the problem. and its the reason so many folk clubs are empty.

Since you are so clear as to why they are empty perhaps you would be so kind as to tell people what to do about it in this context?


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:09 AM

Vic, that's hilarious.

Cats, I think certain sectors are much stronger than others - a teaching union used to sponsor some outreach work I ran, and I got the impression that it is a very strong sector for unionisation. You'll perhaps be gratified to hear that I've never been a parent who has moaned when teachers feel compelled to strike. :)

If numbers are going up, that's great. But the unions will never again represent what they once did in terms of community cohesion, which is sad.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:30 PM

No - twenty five years lends enchantment to the view. most people, at the time, were intensely ashamed and upset about the outbtreak of violence in their communities - there was little of the triumphalism of the Blackleg Miner song at the time.

what to do now...? An interesting question, Dave.

We were so damned lucky as a generation in some ways. they'd just had two world wars and for a lot of people we were the golden generation - the first with free healthcare, education, well fed, well looked after - we were the hope of the future.

When we talked about our world, the best of our elders said - well maybe you've got a point - you can't screw things up much worse than we did....

Compare that with abuse that young kids get nowadays for their 'navel gazing' music. Its only if you play dance tunes that no one dances to (outside of PTA social events), work at a lugubrious accent with songs that are written to sound two hundred years old that you well maybe get a pat on the head from the folk world.

donovan was 17 when I first heard him, Dylan only twenty, The beatles not much older.....It was exciting to see your contemporaries having a bash and being successful. And the folkclubs were full of people, inspired and having that same bash.

Seth Lakeman, Liza C, Kate R., - these guys are middle aged (compared to the people who got us into folkmusic) and they and their approach, would have seemed as such to us at the time if they had appeared in the 1960's.

If we want this music to have a future we must start listening to the young, instead of dumping on their heads the burden of this bloody tradition that is so obviously going nowhere.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:41 PM

"If we want this music to have a future we must start listening to the young, instead of dumping on their heads the burden of this bloody tradition that is so obviously going nowhere."
I really don't know why you don't sit at home and listen to Girls Aloud if folk music is so irrelevant Al.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 04:07 PM

If you can't see a qualitative difference between Dylan's first three or four albums and Girls Aloud, Jim I'm sorry....words fail me.

Just pick those albms up - read the sleeve notes and you would see through a glass darkly - most of the things folk music is made up of. And the synthesis was made by a boy scarcely twenty years old.

That was what why the folk clubs were full of young people - its why certain kinds of folk clubs are still full of people my age whose eyes still burn bright with the vision.

Its why the other folk music is where it is and what it is.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Folkiedave
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:12 PM

Are you really saying that folk clubs were full of young people inspired by Donovan? Donovan???? I reckon most people had better taste.

Al, you have just ranted against 200 year old songs and dance music only good enough for PTA's. Are you really saying "They call me mellow yellow " is better?

As I remember it at the time, went to folk clubs because it was possible to have a good time listening and singing along. You could always chat to the artist in the bar - and they were delighted to pass on their expertise. People at the folk clubs I went to were delighted to have people like Jeannie Robertson and later her daughter to listen to. Maggie Barry who drank pint bottles of Guinness, Willie Scott who had the most wicked sense of humour. I count myself priveliged to have listened to these great artists.

Oh! and meeting members of the opposite sex in convivial circumstances was a big influence.

In Manchester we went back to Terry Whelan's and got two big pans of curry and rice and sat around chatting and putting the world to rights from a left-wing point of view.

In Hull people often came back to our house and drank. Those that were there will remember why! And they developed their relationships with the opposite sex. We went to Bill Cowley's farm at Potto and had a ceilidh in a barn with the High Level Ranters.

We partied, ceilidhied, walked, some went climbing and so on. We never discussed Donovan and the meaning of mellow yellow.

And a vast number of the people I knew from those days still love the music.

I am happy to start listening to the young. But it depends on which young.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:52 PM

Jim Carroll:
Sorry if I over-reacted - the miners strike was a traumatic time for all of us and had implications on many of our lives - especially on those of us who relied on a pay packet at the end of the week.
Whether they liked it or not, the strike was not just about coal, but about the rights of workers to be represented by a Trades Union -

The rights of the workers to be represented by a Trades Union was never attacked. What was attacked was the attempt by one particular Trade Union to enforce its will on its members without asking them what they wanted!
If Scargill could have won a vote for action he would have called for a vote. Failure to call for a vote was sure to lead to people saying he was enforcing his will on the Union. As I understand it he continued pulling in a good wage while the miners suffered. poor bloody infantry


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:55 PM

'Are you really saying that folk clubs were full of young people inspired by Donovan? Donovan???? I reckon most people had better taste'.

I think a lot of people were inspired to try something creative by seeing Mr Leitch and I can remember a time when the traddies weren't too proud to put him on package tours with them. In fact it would be small of them top forget the debt they owe him. A lot of people came to see those package tours with The watersons, Louis Killen, Tony Engle, and Mr leitch - shouldn't be surprised if the Watersons captured a few of his fans.

'Al, you have just ranted against 200 year old songs and dance music only good enough for PTA's'.

I'm not ranting. but the music you admire is a bit like Pooh bear - it has its place in 100 acre wood with all the nice woodland creatures. and in its place, its terrific fun.

Mellow Yellow though is made of sterner stuff; it gets to go out in the real world, with Christopher Robin and Piglet and the rest of us.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 03:32 AM

Al,
Dylan may have had a draw for some in the folk scene (not me, I hasten to add - I was well into Joe Heaney by then) - before he took the shilling and followed his star to stardom. Dylan was shrewd businessman from the words 'they're off' who was prepared to use folk music and pseudo-left politics as stepping stones for his career. But Donovan, for chissake, imitative chewing gum, nothing more (Mellow Yellow and Tangerine Dreams my arse - purile pap! - as Dave suggests Magic Roundabout Land). He certainly has nothing to say to the kids today - whatever their tastes may be. Do you honestly believe that promoting either would be 'listening to the young'. I suggest that what we are seeing here is a display of your personal preferences - in which case, I'm sorry for your loss, as they say round here.
I get a little tired of being told by you that my music is irrelevant - for you maybe, but not for me, nor for many like me. I find the appeal to 'follow the kids' a little reminiscent of an elderly doting, and very, very embarrassing grandparent desperately trying to prove that they are up-to-date and patently proving that they are not.
Nigel,
The right for workers to be represented was what it was all about; the mining communities were Thatcher's Guernica, where she, with the aid of a subservient police force and media, flexed her muscles to see what she could get away with - it was a totally unequal battle from the word 'go'. Intimidation on whether or not to strike came from both sides. In the end the miners were starved back to work and we all lost out.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 03:34 AM

Just to add to the musical side of the discussion:

Test Dept and the Striking Miners' Welsh Voice Choir made an album to benefit the strikers.

As did most of Henry Cow, who made an EP The Last Nightingale with Robert Wyatt (Adrian Mitchell RIP donated his fine 'On the Beach at Cambridge'). The EP had a long explanation of the whys and wherefores, it still makes good reading.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 07:08 AM

Jim, I would never say your music is irrelevant. If its relevant to you - that's the acid test.

However I'll respond in a PM - as i need to talk in more direct terms about the English folkscene and the way its gone.

will write soon - its been a shit Christmas with a close bereavement, and I've got the undertaker in the next room as I write this. when i have time I will discuss your interesting post with you - andexplain exactly why I don't agree with you!

best wishes

Your pussy cat doll
al


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Ian Ferguson
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 11:44 AM

Having been far too closely involved with police tactics during the miners strike I have read postings on this thread with interest and distaste in some cases. If anyone is interested the link below presents a reasoned argument from, IMO, one of the best performers on the scene.
http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/ramblings/strike84.html


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 02:41 PM

Thanks Ian,
That is one of the most articulate and concise descriptions of the events surrounding the miners strike I have come across.
Al,
Sorry for having a go at what is obviously a bad time for you.
Look forward to your PM.
Best wishes,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 02:59 AM

Just received this:

"Ex-punk, ex-soldier, and ex-member of the Labour Party, Billy Bragg rose from working class origins in the 1980s to become one of the UK's foremost pop and protest singers and left-wing icons. It was Margaret Thatcher who propelled the Bard of Barking into action; Bragg's defining political moment came with the Miners' Strike of 1984-5, when the Conservative government set out to lay waste to Britain's industrial heartlands, crippling communities and livelihoods in the process.

Twenty five years on, Billy arrives in Wales on a special eight-date solo tour in June 2009 to remember the Miners' Strike and its legacy on the communities across Wales."


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: richd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:20 AM

Good for Billy- shame there isn't a Welsh singer willing, able or high profile enough to do the job.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Folkiedave
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:02 AM

It would be interesting to hear who he is reminding of what.......


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:10 AM

and whether your old NUM card gets you in free... :D


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Mr Dazed & Confused
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:04 AM

Mmmmm.. Seems there are three camps here;

The camp that says that folk music is something to do with class struggle.

The camp that says that folk music is a way of recording events.

The camp that says that folk music is best when in the abstract, it being, after all, entertainment.

Well, this is a very interesting subject, the '84 strike. I was there, I worked at the same pit as Ian (above) who never went back at all, even after the strilke. Don't blame him. I keep seeing his name in articles and his face in the papers. The lad done well. One of the largest pits there was, and within the ranks of the NUM members sported (figures more or less accurate) 8 labour councillors, 2 tory and 1 SDP. In addition, 3 magistrates and I knew of four special constables.

So... as all the songs and poetry of the time spoke of everybody having black faces, zinc baths in the kitchen and listing pigeon fancying in their hobbies, it must have come as a surprise to General Scargill to find his members were more worried about their mortgages, holidays and investments. In fact, many saw Scargill et al as hastening the demise. One side of our pit was unworkable after the strike, leading to vacancy freezes, whittling down the numbers till eventual closure.

Sure, the government of the day were hell bent on breaking the unions. Looking back, there was no innocent side and no guilty side. Just two generals on two hills.

Aye, I reckon I will write a song based on that image....


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: richd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:36 AM

I don't remember too much music at the time either, except at benefits and the such. The politics of it all in s Wales were very complex, even down to indvidual pits, let alone between coalfields. Arthur Scargill was (and is) a much disputed figure, and there are still people arguing over the ballot, as opposed to lodge votes to strike. What I do know is that individuals, families and communities invested and lost massive monetary resources, pride and personal and cultural capital. This loss was so great that in the part of Wales that I belong to has still not recovered. It's ironic therefore, to look out of the window to the hill oppposite to the top of the mountain beeing scraped away by opencast.

How to remember the strike is difficult. What is there to celebrate?


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: theleveller
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:58 AM

I agree with richd – I don't think there's much to celebrate. I was living in the Selby coalfield at the time and had previously been married to the daughter of a Nottinghamshire miner.

It was a brutal time, with Scargill's thugs making nightime visits to 'blacklegs', women fighting in school playgrounds and a general air of confusion and bewilderment. I blame the inflated egos of both Thatcher and Scargill, both of whom seemed to be more interested in their own positions rather than the fate of the mining industry. While miners' kids were going hungry (we would often invite my children's school friends back for some tea) Scargill bought himself an expensive new house which, I was told (by a miner), he put in his son's name. Thatcher was just a black-hearted bitch who didn't give a s**t about anyone.

And what was the outcome? Well, I pass Gascoigne Wood colliery (the site of the famous "battle of bull run") twice a day on the train. It's now been dismantled and is just a derelict brown-field site while, within sight of it, Drax power station runs on imported coal. In the end, the main victim was the UK mining industry.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 12:21 PM

I would like to call attention for my UK friends to the book by folklorist Archie Green called "Only A Miner" about the labor travails here in the States. We have a notable history of
struggles that parallel your own.

It still goes on through the mountaintop destruction in Kentucky by the coal companies
to the absurd ad campaign on TV called "clean coal". We have had terrible incidents such as the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia. The plight of the coal miner in the US is palpable.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 12:27 PM

We have had terrible incidents such as the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia

We have 'Treacle mines' here


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 12:28 PM

Oh, and that was 100


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: richd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:16 PM

One thing that does interest me greatly is why there was seemingly relativly little music generated through the strike, and what there was doesn't seem to have lasted. I only realy have direct knowledge of s Wales, and I can't think of many songs of the time- if anyone else does I would be glad to be wrong, Dave Burns excepted. I did spent some time in the Durham Coalfield just before the strike, and there seemed to be little enough there too. I would like to be wrong, but it didn't seem that there was little new created by the experience of the strike and the lead up to it. There were lots of poems, but not much music, although there was a fashion for whistling 'The Cuckoo Waltz' when the police turned up. I'm trying to remember what went on at a lot of the events I went to- mostly speeches I think. Even the buses and coaches were pretty quiet and grim. I wonder in what conditions the songs of the American Coalfields were created in, and how they were achieved, remarkable as they are. I will ask around about this.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Millindale
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:42 PM

I would, before posting anything on a forum, check out the truth of what I was saying. I have heard the story of Scargills 'mansion' ad nauseum apart from the mention of his son. I am not sure that he even has a son. He has a daughter who was a GP in my home town of Penistone.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:41 PM

And news today The Times seems to show the NUM profitting from compensation payments which should have been going to ex-miners!

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 03:47 AM

"I have heard the story of Scargills 'mansion' ad nauseum"

So that makes it untrue, does it?

One thing I can tell you for certain is that, during the strike, Scargill regularly ate in the expensive Brooklands restaurant near Barnsley. I saw him there myself on two occasions. Another thing that I know for certain is that, at the same time, kids were going hungry around where I lived. Much as I hate Thatcher and what she did, Scargill was an arch hypocrite who let the miners down.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Ian
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:03 AM

Thank you.

When I put my earlier post up, I appeared to be a lone voice. Now, the thread has a more balanced set of views.

It is not possible to say this side were fully in the right and that side were fully in the wrong.

The government had a two fold plan; destroy the power of the trade unions, as they were too aligned to the labour party and too powerful. Question the long term viability of coal fired power.

I was bemused to see the labour party sat on the fence for most of the time, relying on Benn, Skinner and other deniable assets to carry the flag whilst relishing the thought of not being dictated to by the unions in the long term.

So... what did this all achieve?

New Labour! Congratulations to Messrs Scargill, McGaghy etc for being the founding fathers of the alternative to a conservative government... wait for it... a different conservative government!

Not that the police are happy with them either.....


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:05 AM

Arthur Scargill was an elected union official who was paid to enact NUM policies. If that salary enabled him to buy property and eat occasionally at restaurants, that's exactly what most people do with their earnings. I don't know either if he gave his son a house or even if he has one but I certainly met his daughter at a World Youth Festival and a more committed socialist it would be impossible to encounter.

Leveller, you'd be more logical if you castigated disgraceful Thatcher government policies that denied the right of miners to live in the same way as those still in employment.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:17 AM

"Leveller, you'd be more logical if you castigated disgraceful Thatcher government policies "
You should know by now it doesn't work like that Countess.
Those who chose to support Thatcher and to believe the press at the time still do - the defence of the mining communities only gets in the way of the argument, and it's always easier to discuss where Arthur buys his butties.
It's interesting to see how her tearing the country in half still persists.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Ian
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 07:33 AM

"It's interesting to see how her tearing the country in half still persists." - Jim Carroll

For me, I would never give the credit for still affecting anything. Both political parties had hitherto produced papers questioning the long term viability of coal. The difference was that she did not believe in communities and the bonds that hold them together.

I would have laughed to hear the tory politicians moaning about destroying communities and wider effects when this present government abolished fox hunting. However, irony is wasted on most of the politicians I know and have to deal with these days.

Yes, Scargill was duly elected. I voted for the other guy, Bell I think his name was, but accept that he won the national leadership ballot so called him my leader. I only wish he represented us, that's all. I only wish he had the talent and wit to achieve the aims of the union. I only wish he didn't use trade unionism as a springboard for regime change at Westminster.

I only wish the rest of the country saw the struggle as a plea to keep jobs, save communities and for 20,000 people to carry on doing what they did best, feed the energy demand for the rest of the country.

They couldn't whilst both sides rattled on about class struggle, political might and win / lose. You knew it had all gotten out of hand when the Prime Minister of your country, the person who vows to represent you refers to you as the enemy within, on the basis of what you do for a living... Now there's a thought.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 09:44 AM

"Leveller, you'd be more logical if you castigated disgraceful Thatcher government policies that denied the right of miners to live in the same way as those still in employment"

That goes without saying.


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Subject: Just to set the records straight.
From: GUEST,Sallie Oughton a miners daughter from South
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 11:55 PM

David Wilkie the Welsh taxi driver was killed November the 30th 1984.He was killed by two striking miners Dean Hancock and Russell Shankland
Wilkies fare was David Williams a scab who worked at the Merthyn Vale mine.They were accompanied by two police cars and a motorcycle outrider.The two striking miners dropped a 46 pound concrete block from ther bridge 27 feet over the road.Wilkie was killed instantly , Williams was slightly hurt.
Hancock and Shankland were found guilty of murder and sentanced to life imprisonment.Am appeal of conviction were reduced to manslaughter replaced by 8 years jail sentance.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Ian Gill
Date: 31 May 10 - 05:30 AM

I still reckon the '84 strike was the biggest political turning point of the last fifty years in the U.K. If the TUC had supported the NUM when they called for a General Strike the Thatcher government would probably have fallen and the rest of the decade - and U.K. history - might have been very different.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 31 May 10 - 05:35 AM

Thank goodness they didn't.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: GUEST,Essex girl
Date: 31 May 10 - 06:28 AM

A Song written by Mundy-Turner (Markham Main) after evening with a person who had a relative commit suicide sums up the miners strike for me.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 31 May 10 - 03:04 PM

Bonzo3legs. Did you actually live through the Thatcher era? I did and I can tell you all about the destruction which the Tories wrought, not just on the miners, but on everybody else who got in their way. That bloody woman deserves to burn in hell.


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 May 10 - 04:39 PM

Jim, I think that was Napoleon. " If I could write the country's songs, I care not who writes the country's laws", for sure a bad paraphrase.

Archie Green's book "Only a Miner" is one of the best index into the history of US striking coal miner's songs. Uncle Dave's "Buddy, Won't You Roll Down That Line" is a history lesson of itself.

There was this song from Southern Illinois that Alan Lomax railed after saying it was a fraud. It was published in an Illinois newspaper I think in the 20's. It's an anti-union coal mine song.

"Come and listen to my song, story of a nation wrong,
Idle men in a roving band strike the tools from a miner's hands.

Chorus: Flag of blue, white and red, a man's got a right to earn his bread.
Flag of blue, white and red, a man's got a right to earn his bread.

Tried to work 'cause I'm almost broke, to dig for Donnegan's Coal and Coke.
A hundred miners came around and beat me bloody to the ground.

Chorus:

John L's pay is big and fat, I wish I had a tenth of that.
I don't like to sit at home and hear the wife and children moan.

Chorus:


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 May 10 - 07:11 PM

The saddest outcome of the '84 Miners Strike was the almost total emasculation of the UK Trade Union movement . Sadly , the PROPERLY run Unions were screwed along with the idiots ! When a Trade Union works convener can call 'The Brothers' out on a wildcat strike with NO meeting or ballot THAT union needs sorting out . However the Blessed Margaret managed to include all unions in the melee , wether they were well run or not .


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Subject: RE: Music: Police and Striking Miners
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 03:54 PM

Bonzo3legs. Did you actually live through the Thatcher era? I did and I can tell you all about the destruction which the Tories wrought, not just on the miners, but on everybody else who got in their way. That bloody woman deserves to burn in hell.

Of course, I was far too busy enjoying myself to worry about a few nutters in trades unions.
    I'm going to have to close this thread for a while. It's really getting hit hard by autoSpam. I'll be glad to reopen it any time after 11 June 2010.
    Sorry for the inconvenience.
    -Joe Offer-


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