Twenty years ago on March 5, 1984 the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)
embarked upon the most important class struggle in Britain since the general
strike of 1926. A ferocious battle ensued. Billions of pounds were spent by the
ruling class to crush the miners’ militancy. More than ten thousand miners
were arrested; two were killed on the picket lines and countless others injured.
Decades of so-called consensus were obliterated and the real and ugly face of
British capitalism was exposed for all to see.
An essential lesson to draw from the miners’ strike is the vital role of
leadership. The miners’ leaders stood head and shoulders above the majority of
British trade union leaders. The leaders of the NUM were a source of
inspiration. At the same time these leaders were inspired by the courage and
determination of the rank and file miners, of their wives and their communities.
Unfortunately courage alone is not enough to win such titanic battles. It must
be accompanied by correct tactics and strategy.