Monday, October 01, 2007

My Politics: Part 2...

During the miners strike in 1984/85 a couple of miners were found guilty of attempted murder after dropping a paving slab from a motorway bridge on a taxi carrying a strike breaker to work - I can't source the story but I think the miner actually lived but the taxi driver was killed. When this story aired I remember some Conservative politician attacking the accused miners and implying (probably a little too readily) that the incident somehow spoke to the moral illegitimacy of the strike action as a whole and anyone on the left who supported it. What shocked me most though was my father's ambivalence towards the fate of the victims and his readiness to almost (not quite) excuse the behaviour of the striking miners.

I was 13 during the Miners strike and although I can't pretend to have followed every twist & turn in the story, it was the first significant political event I recall. It was also my first exposure to the relativism that often accompanies deeply held political views. In the eyes of my father the men accused of murder were 'striking against Maggie' and that fact must in some way mitigate their actions (just as their intended victim was somehow less deserving of our sympathy because he was breaking the strike). This was mirrored on the right with the notion that striking miners were somehow lazy thugs rather than men looking to feed their families. I remember being appalled at this relativism and disgusted at the readiness of both sides to exploit the dispute to tarnish their political opponents. As I said I didn't understand all the 'ins and outs' of the story nor the first thing about labour law or industrial action but the idea that men wanting to go to work to feed their family could contradict any political creed or belief system seemed awful to me. Those events coupled with my fathers relativism towards them perhaps had something to do with my drift to the right.

In the late eighties my interest in politics began to grow and this is probably a consequence of the febrile political atmosphere at the time. Thatcher's government was exceptionally divisive and for the first time in my life popular culture seemed to become overtly political - Ben Elton, Red Wedge, Alexi Sayle, Spitting Image etc. At this time my Dad also found himself serially unemployed largely as a direct consequence of government action and so hostility to 'Maggie' at home increased even further. These two things combined to make any support for or tolerance of the Conservative Party seem like total heresy. And if I'm honest I can't dissent from that now - I'll revisit this in later posts in this series but the idea that Thatcher's time in office was an unalloyed good is complete nonsense and the party's inability to put her time in office in some sort of perspective continues to damage the party today.

This is the third in a series of posts - see 'Introduction' and 'Part 1'....


At 10:11 PM , Newmania said...

What did the miners do for anyone else ? Nowt. Why then should they have a job guaranteed for life by everyone else?
Redundancy is a fact of life for evryone (self no exception). the economy had to be restructured , that it was such apainful lurch uis entirely the fault of the left and the Unions .
I was made redundant and it did not occur to me to, "blame the government"

I am unlike you I found red wedge infuriatingly shallow and Alexi Sayle unfunny, Ben Elton I like as a comedy writer ( his books are dreadful) but his politics are those of an infant IMHO

Its odd , I know what you mean about the fashion of the time , my instinct was to react against it

At 9:41 AM , Bob Piper said...

Cassilis, a very thoughtful piece. This isn't the place to enter into a diatribe for or against the miners' strike, but I suspect Newmania as usual deliberately chooses to miss the point. The miners' strike, as opposed to his redundancy I imagine, was a political act, not by the miners but by a Government bent on revenge for earlier strikes by the NUM that they thought were also political.

The Thatcher Government also used it as a weapon to defeat the trade union movement, which they did very successfully, whether you believe the unions were too strong or not. That is why you cannot detatch the strike from the government of the day.

As for Ben Elton I found everything he ever uttered to be remarkably unfunny... a sentiment shared by Lexi Sayle, who could (very) occasionally merit a smile.

At 2:42 PM , Newmania said...

When a business is nationalised everything about it is political . That why they failed and have not been renationalised. It was a poltical act to create industries on an unsustainable model . To stop doing so is only a political act in the sense that walking from the stage is part of the Play.

She did pick her enemy well but then the leadership of the NUM helped as much as they could.

At 10:26 PM , Jeremy Jacobs said...

RMT next?

Watch 'em screw-up CrossRail


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