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Back to the Miners’ Strike

From Planet 216

Thirty years after the strike, Helen Pendry remembers her reaction at the time and reflects on why the wider struggle continues.

2014 – Aberystwyth
I’m working in front of a computer in the Planet office in Aberystwyth, entering subscription details into the database. I take a break and look through some old editions of the magazine. At forty-eight I’m just old enough to have registered the 1984 Miners’ Strike as ‘a voter’, so thirty years on I want to know what Planet had to say about the strike. But of course there wasn’t a Planet in 1984. Ned Thomas founded the magazine in 1970, and wound it up in 1979. He resurrected it in 1985.

In the first edition back (No. 51) there’s a review by John Baxter of two books which set out ‘the contradictions in the Government’s stand on the Rule of Law’ in the light of the strike, as well as its hostility to ‘civil liberties and the labour movement’. Angela John writes about her experiences of making a BBC Radio Wales programme called The Angry Summers – a production which intertwines Idris Davies’s ‘The Angry Summer, a poem of 1926’ with the voices of those involved in the 1984 strike. And there’s an interview with Kim Howells, the research officer for the South Wales Area of the NUM. Howell’s summing up is despairing about the future of Wales:

I just sense that my kids are going to be fighting exactly the same battles I’ve fought but with far less chance of winning them. I’ve become very, very pessimistic about the future of Wales, I must admit. I just hope we’re not going to become some kind of ossified backwater like the Appalachia or a Ruritanian appendage to England, a tourist place with industrial museums the biggest growth industry. But there’s something, a kind of magic that keeps us here, I suppose, though I don’t know what it is, mind.



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