ABSTRACT

The miners had thus played the neatest of roles within a decade and a half. In the early 1970s, as union power grew and its exercise of it became less and less inhibited, the miners showed the movement what might be achieved: the destabilisation of the government, no less. The myth of betrayal of the miners has lasted well, better than the assessment made at the time by those involved. The miners’ strike had shown that the individual could, when pushed, destroy collective discipline that was felt to be illegitimate. The 1984 Congress, with its motion pledging ‘total support’ for the miners’ struggle to save pits, jobs and communities and its appeal to other workers to make the dispute more effective by banning the movement of coal or oil substituted for it, was a patent attempt to bring the NUM leadership to the negotiating table and keep them there.