Tuesday, 17 March 2009

25th Anniversary of the Miners Strike

People in Leeds might be interested in a meeting organised by the local Labour history society, the Ford McGuire Society.

It's on 23rd March 2009 at 19:30 in The Victoria pub, behind the Town Hall.

The speaker is Ken Capstick (fromer VP Yorkshire NUM and editor of 'The Miner') and he will be speaking on the history and the lessons of the strike for today.

For more on the Ford McGuire society: named after two great 19thC pioneers of socialism and feminism in Leeds go to http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/roger/FMS/.

1 comment:

  1. This meeting wasn't what I expected, which is maybe a good thing if I hoped for a wave of warm nostalgia about battles in the past. Instead Ken Capstick (editor of The Miner) talked about the case for Clean Coal. Ken had a picture of the world marked by increasing competition and conflict over energy resources, in which there are still vast coal reserves. These coal reserves are being burnt on a massive scale by The USA, China and increasingly India, with all the damage to the environment that implies. The UK still burns a lot of coal, much of it now imported; but is sitting on vast reserves of recoverable coal. This resource should be used, but what is needed is the development of a technology of clean coal burning. There was research and progress towards this, but it was shut down by Thatcher. Ken went on to attack the environmental movement (not green but 'cabbage coloured' - is that an insult?) for objecting to new coal plants (like that in Kent)when they weren't objecting to oil and gas fulled power. He said the NUM didn't object to renewable energy sources, but they were simply insufficient. But if environmentalists waged war on coal and thus on the miners, the NUM would wage war in return.

    I was mightily depressed by all this. Talk of war between miners and environmentalists seems so counterproductive. Ken seemed to represent an outdated notion of industrial power, at least in this industry. Ken gave the figures - there were 170,000 miners, there are now 4,000. Does the NUM really really have the social and economic power it once did? If it has been defeated there has to be new thinking about what to do. Ken also represented the way an old sympathy and loyalty to the USSR and the ideas of 'state socialism' (or 'state capitalism' to me)has become translated into a strange nostalgia-inflected loyalty to the Russia of Putin and Medvedev and Gazprom.

    But most depressing - the urgency of the environmental impact of the carbon economy and the need to find some sort of solution.