Sunday, March 29, 2009

Strike!

Last night we watched a talking heads programme in which ex-strikers told us their memories.

There were some surprises.

As a rookie reporter, the odious shit Kelvin MacKenzie had once been on strike. But he spoke with relish about how when it was his turn to be on the management's side in the Wapping dispute he would goad the print workers by sticking two fingers up at them as he drove past the picket lines. People were losing their jobs and he was laughing at them.

As an angry young pilot, Norman Tebbit had withdrawn his labour. But of course the boot was on the other foot when he became Secretary of State for Employment and he presided over the destruction of the working class. He said he was perfect for the job as he had inside information on how unions work, having once been an active union member himself.

Then there was Eddie Shah, once a less than enthusiastic striker, then the enemy of the print workers union as he started the shite Today newspaper using new technology. Shah hates union leaders with a passion and told a story of how five coffins were once sent to his home, one for each member of his family. Whether this was an action perpetrated by union officials, Shah didn't say. But he hates them anyway.

There were women, too. The women of the Dagenham Ford plant, fighting for equal pay with the men. And Anne Scargill, fighting to keep coalminers and their families alive and well during the 84-85 miners' strike.

Back to the men's world, there was the gravedigger who described probably the most animosity aimed at strikers by the general public. But what else can you do, working in appalling conditions with bosses who don't give a shit about your health or welfare?

(This got me thinking, wouldn't it have been funny if, as well as rubbish piling up on the streets, bodies were too? Imagine those documentaries. "The 1970s. 3 Day Week. Petrol shortages. Energy crisis. Rubbish and bodies piling up on the streets. We were ready for a change. A revolution. Four skinny white boys who were hanging around a clothing store called Sex...etc, etc").

And finally there was the miner who appeared on The Tube with The Redskins. He stepped up to the microphone, ready to cut through all that 80s new pop shit with his words of working class solidarity, backed by a soulful socialist worker skinhead combo. And what happened?

The microphone didn't work.

4 comments:

  1. I've still got my Coal not Dole mug - waiting for the Antiques Road show to come to Manchester.
    Ah - bodies on the streets ... Malcom McLaren etc - do you write the scripts for Robert Elms Geoff?

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  2. Crikey, bodies on the street - it would've been like Dawn of the Dead...
    Sx

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  3. Kaz - I was working in a very anti-union environment at the time. I probably do now (not been tested for the past 24 years). Elms and me are like a pair of urbane peas in a cool pod.

    Scarlet - And then the zombies won the election.

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