Inaugural Director, Professor Huw Beynon will feature on the BBC’s The Miners’ Strike programme at 10.25pm on BBC ONE Wales on Sunday March 9th.
The programme marks the 30th anniversary of the historic struggle between the miners and a Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher. The strike was a well-documented twelve months of hostility.
Former Labour Government minister Kim Howells ran the National Union of Mineworkers Pontypridd office which co-ordinated the South Wales miners’ efforts during the strike. In this memoir, he asks some challenging questions about the conduct, the strategy and the outcomes of the strike.
As one of the contributors, Prof Huw Beynon makes important points about the steep decline in heavy industry and manufacturing in the years immediately before the Miners’ Strike – and the consequent decline in demand for coal.
‘The coal miners strike of 1984-85 was a major political and social event,’ says Professor Beynon, ‘It was the main item on the news for a year and overwhelmed the lives of the people who lived in the mining areas. It is often over-simplified and misunderstood.’
‘The strike started in 1984 , the year made famous by George Orwell. However it didn’t come out of the blue. Coal miners had been in dispute over mine closures since 1980, with South Wales leading strikes in 1981 and 1983. It was in this period that I met Kim Howells.’
‘I was based in Durham and we cooperated in support of the NUM’s “Campaign for Coal”. This was a forward looking attempt, through day schools, evening class and meetings, to raise with the coal miners, their families and the general public the complex issues involved in running down one the country’s major industries. This discussion – on the future of coal – was crowded out by the ferocity of the conflict and the day to day struggle for survival. It is these issues that Kim and I address in the film, The Strike.’
WATCH The Miners’ Strike – A Personal Memoir by Kim Howells by clicking here.