It is the release of those cabinet and government documents that have been kept secret under the 30 year rule; in this case, the assorted stuff from 1984.
1984 was the year of the miners’ strike, which split the country pretty much down the middle. Or rather, the government’s response split the country.
It was class warfare. Raw in tooth and claw. It lasted from March 1984 to March 1985 and although some miners had returned to work earlier, ministers later admitted that they had lied about the numbers involved in order to destroy the morale of those still striking.
Thirty years later, we now know that this was by no means the only lie told by the Thatcherite Tories of the time.
Whole communities were to be destroyed. Families were to be thrown into poverty. Two-thirds of Welsh miners would become redundant. One third of those in Scotland would lose their jobs, together with half in the north-east, half in south Yorkshire and almost half in the south Midlands. In Kent, not a single job would remain.
You will not be surprised to learn that final paragraph of the document read: "It was agreed that no record of this meeting should be circulated."
A subsequent document, penned by a senior civil servant, argued the same small group should meet regularly in future, but that there should be "nothing in writing which clarifies the understandings about strategy which exist between Mr MacGregor (Ian MacGregor, the chairman of the Coal Board) and the secretary of state for energy".
But we are thirty years on, and the proof that we were right then is irrelevant.
“History to the defeated
May say alas but cannot help or pardon”.
It will come as no consolation to those families throughout the mining community of Britain that they were right. They, and the movement, was destroyed. And it was destroyed in no small measure by working class people, the police constables who surrendered their principles in order to gain unprecedented overtime and who relished the legalised punch-ups.
I know this because my brother-in-law at the time was a traffic policeman. One day, in the middle of the dispute, he brought round to see us a brother officer, who regaled us with stories of beatings up and how much he had earned and what he was going to spend it on: video players and Majorca, as I recall.
He was confused. My accent, my home and the wine I was serving made him assume that I was on his, and Thatcher’s, side. I was not. And the defeat of the NUM, and the recent disclosures that the union was right all along, confirms my instinctive loathing for Thatcher’s strategy and those who supported it.
They are still denying that meeting, and what was discussed and agreed, despite the fact that the minutes are, finally, in the public domain.
Their guilt is manifest. And we cannot help or pardon; we can only say alas.
Today from the everysmith vault: EP2 from the Pixies, four great new songs, released today.I commend it to you.