Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

99. Monday October 1st, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm

This afternoon I made my third appearance at Sunderland Magistrates Court on the ‘Breach of the Peace’ charge arising from my arrest at Wearmouth on September 5th. I have been remanded on the same bail conditions until December 18th!! This is typical of what is happening to hundreds of activists who are prevented from picketing by the Tory courts. Why aren’t the NUM lawyers doing more to try and fight them? I am really pissed off and frustrated by being out of action, especially now that the NCB is piling on the pressure to get men to break the strike. I’ll just have to try and find new ways to channel my energy. Back to fundraising I expect.

The Labour Party Conference opened today and Scargill got a standing ovation. He was also served with a writ from the High Court that threatens him with jail if he won’t comply. He says he won’t, and he also criticised the pigs for their disgraceful part in trying to defeat us. Standing ovations are fine but it’s the support of the TUC we need, not bloody empty hand clapping!

The situation at home is terrible, with Kath in a deep depression because she’s lost her job. Nothing I say does any good; she just sits and mopes. Hopefully she will get over it and find another job, though with unemployment rife she is going to find it hard. At least we’re still together and perhaps now she can get more involved in the strike.



98. Friday September 28th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Wonders will never cease! Those spineless bastards at NACODs have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action, 82% in favour, in response to the NCB’s threat to stop their wages for not crossing picket lines. Let’s wait and see if they have the guts to carry it out.

It’s been a bad week because Kath has lost her job and today was her last day at work. She is devastated and can’t understand why she didn’t get her own job. Oh well, we’re in the same boat as the rest of the striking miners now and we’ll just have to get on with it.

Also, I’ve been unable to get to the Westoe picket line because of my bail conditions, and the whole area is awash with pigs. Too risky!

97. Friday September 21st-Sunday September 23rd, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm

What a bloody wasted weekend! I attended a school at Durham University organised by Broad Left groups in South Wales and Durham. There were a few hundred active pickets attending, and there was a real opportunity to discuss ways of putting the strike back on the offensive. Instead we had to sit through boring lectures on subjects most of us have experienced at first hand, ie the role of the media, the courts, and the police. It was more like a post mortem, and I was really disappointed when a pratt called Kim Howells attacked the use of mass pickets at Orgreave and Port Talbot, and none of us were allowed to argue against him! I’m bloody mad at myself for going.

One thing that cheered us up were the controversial comments from the new Bishop of Durham who called MacGregor, ‘an imported elderly American’, and upset the Tories who have always believed god is on their side. I even sold a copy of Socialist Worker to a passing clergyman!

96.Wednesday September 19th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Fuckin’ hell!!! We have a scab at Westoe and all has broken loose around the pit, with riot police everywhere!

Apparently, at six ‘o’ clock this morning a man called Walker went into the pit through the back entrance where there were no pickets. It was only when the bastard came out at the end of his shift that the pickets realised he was scabbing. he only lives 50 yards from the pit so he was quickly besieged in his house by an ever increasing crowd of people, angry that one of their neighbours had betrayed all their hardship and suffering by breaking the strike.

The pigs started to arrive in full riot gear and without any warning started to wade viciously into the crowd, kicking, punching and clubbing anyone unfortunate enough to be in their way. People were chased in all directions, men, women and children, with one old man of 70 being beaten to the ground, and his small dog, who was trying to protect him, was kicked over a wall. The pigs insulted women who came to their front doors to see what was going on, calling them ‘filthy sluts’, ‘dirty cows’, and ‘whores’ whilst their children screamed at their sides. It was horrifying and disgusting and totally over the top.

After having cleared the whole area the pigs ordered council workmen to tear down our picket hut, which had been provided by the local Labour council, flattening it despite pickets personal belongings being inside.

12 arrests were made, including the local ‘Lollipop Lady’, and a man who collided with a passing pig when he was getting out of his car to visit his elderly mother. He’s been charged with,’Obstructing the police’, and rumour has it he is a member of the SDP. Perhaps he can tell ‘Dr Death’ about it and change his views about the ‘hooligans on the picket lines’.

Predictably the local TV news covered the pigs riot, and in their view, everyone should support the poor scab who is merely exercising his right to work, and besides, his mother has a weak heart. So does her fuckin’ son!!!!

Let’s hope that this disgusting display of thuggery by the police, and the scab who caused it, only goes to strengthen the resolve of the men not to be bullied back to work and make us all the more determined to stick it out.

95. Tuesday September 18th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

The bloody Dock Strike is over, sold out again, even worse than the last time. This won’t do any good for the morale of the pickets, many of whom seem to build up their hopes of a settlement every time talks begin. They are really pissed off today by the dockers selling out. It’s now more important than ever to get more men out onto the picket line, and for us to sell the paper so men can understand why we’ve been sold out, and how we can still win this strike if we go on the offensive in numbers. It CAN be done!

94. Friday September 14th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I appeared at Sunderland Magistrates Court and was yet again remanded on the same oppressive bail conditions until October 1st.

The latest round of talks between the NUM and the NCB look ready to break down again. In my opinion there’s no point in talking to the bastards until we have them by the balls!

93. Thursday September 13th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm

We had a union meeting this morning which was very stormy. I had a real go at the officials for the lacksadaisical way they dealt with Kath when I was in prison and for not visiting earlier as Wearmouth had done. I also criticised the payment of £30 to the men who went down to Brighton to lobby the TUC. It’s totally irresponsible to waste money so blatantly in the 27th week of the strike, especially as we need more money to try and increase picketing. For once the Secretary agreed with me on both points and has promised to look into it to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

We got nothing but lame excuses when we asked for a list of names and addresses, such as we can’t hassle men if they don’t want to picket, and they know where to come if they do. This negative attitude fails to take into account the fact that a lot of our men live a long distance from the pit and can’t afford to come on picket duty. We could provide transport from Lodge funds, which haven’t been touched yet, and never will be if the bastards on the stage are allowed to make the decisions. What’s the point of having funds if there’s no pit? Bloody short sighted, the lot of them!

The one positive thing to come out of the meeting is we seem to be getting a good base of support amongst the lads and we need to build on that.

92. Tuesday September 11th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

We got up early this morning to travel down to Easington, a two bus journey via Sunderland, so Chris and me had loads of time to talk.

We had a brilliant time in Easington. First of all we visited Tommy Ashurst in his house. God, poor Tommy has suffered and lives in a threadbare house. He’s a single miner and gets no help other than the support he gets from the local community yet he’s as active and militant as he was on day one. He told Chris about how the village was totally surrounded by riot police when the scab went back, and how the pigs insulted and abused the local people. Shocking, and something I hope we never experience at Westoe. The visit renewed my faith in the strike and made me realise how lucky I am in comparison to Tommy.

At the soup kitchen we met the most inspirational woman I have ever met, Heather Woods, one of the women behind SEAM (Save Easington Area Mines). She actually has nothing to do with mining, her husband is a plumber, but as she says, it’s her community and she will fight for it to survive. Heather helps to run ‘The Miner’s Kitchen’ and they are serving 500 to 600 meals a day and doing a fantastic job. We need something like this at Westoe because it really brings people together.

Chris went to Wearmouth picket on his own this afternoon because it was too risky for me to be making an appearance. He told me the picket was sold out by Lodge officials and Bob Clay, left wing Labour MP and ex – revolutionary. Apparently over 300 pickets took the pigs completely by surprise and some of the men barricaded the front entrance whilst others started to rip up the barrier around the car park. They had the opportunity to occupy the whole pit and get at the scabs but that bloody stupid rumour about police horses and riot police started again, and Bob Clay appealed to the pickets to leave, saying,’We’ve achieved what we came to do’, and he was supported by the officials! Chris is disgusted, as are most of the other militants I’ve spoken to on the phone. It was a wasted opportunity to stop the scabbing and send out a message to all those other bastards sitting on their arses at home thinking of joining them.

Chris has left for Yorkshire, and I really hope he finds them a lot more organised than we are in Durham.

Kath is on a real downer and keeps going on about losing her job. I’ve told her we’ll cope if she does but it hasn’t made any bloody difference.

91. Monday September 10th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

We woke up early and I took Chris down to the Westoe picket line and introduced him to some of the lads. No one tried to go in so still 100% solid.

We went around to Gary’s house near the pit and had tea and toast. Chris interviewed Gary, but only after politely telling me to shut up because I was answering all the questions. We also visited Dave Farham who lives just down the road, and Chris made sure I didn’t interrupt by doing his interview in the kitchen whilst I looked after Leah, Dave’s baby daughter.

This evening I took Chris down to the ‘Shack’ in Boldon Colliery. The pit shut down years ago and the land is now used to stockpile coal, thousands of tons of it. We tried to find some striking miners but were unsuccessful, not surprising really as buying food is more important than buying beer. Chris did manage to talk to two old men who remembered 1926 but their memories were mostly about the poverty in those days. One of them did mention a scab who had died in the 60’s and no one came to his funeral bar the vicar! That’s what’ll happen to anyone who has the gall to scab at Westoe!

We visited John McIvor, who had been really active at the start of the strike but then had just stopped coming. He seemed the perfect person to start oour policy of getting more men out on the picket line but when he told us he’d just spent £300 buying a dog I had grave doubts. However, he sounded keen and promised to come to Wearmouth tomorrow so we’ll see, The picket there has been set for 2pm, so perhaps something has been organised.

Chris and me were talking for ages before I left him to get some sleep. Early star tomorrow. I like his music because it’s all political, no love songs.

90. Sunday September 9th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I had intended staying at home today with Kath but we had a blazing row so I went to Doncaster for an SWP miners meeting instead. I’m glad I did because it gave us the opportunity to discuss how the strike is going in our respective areas. There was general agreement that the strike is now firmly on the defensive, with all of us mainly concerned with stopping scabs breaking the strike. To ensure this we need to get more men out onto the picket lines, and as Ian Mitchell from Silverwood told us from his own experience, the way to do that is to ‘go on the knocker’ and visit every striking miner we can to argue why they should be active. At the very least it could prevent men from scabbing, which will be important if we are to go on the offensive in the winter.

There was also agreement that there is a big danger of the new talks between MacGregor and Scargill leading to a sell out, and further demoralisation if they break down,which seems inevitable because the NUM has nothing to bargain with. We haven’t got the bastards by the balls, nowhere near it.

The importance of us selling Socialist Worker was stressed again because that is how pickets can be kept informed of exactly what is happening in the strike. We must always try to sell the paper on picket lines, inminers welfares and strike centrex because it’s vital we are identified with the paper. That’s how we get our ideas across and we can have important arguments at the same time. At Westoe, Gary, Ian, John, Keith and myself have built a good reputation as active militanys and we need to continue being identified with the SWP and put forward constructive suggestions at union meetings. The first one is to get a list of addresses and use all the men banned from picketing to go out and visit men who are not active and try to persuade them to join us.

When I got home I had a phonecall asking me to meet the journalist at the bus stop near our house and I set off in the dark, expecting to meet some hippie type with long hair and flares because I used to read the NME regularly up until a few years ago and that’s how I imagined he would look. I was shocked when a tall skinhead with a red Harrington jacket, jeans and red boxing boots loomed out of the darkness. He introduced himself as Chris Moore and we walked back to my house. I was relieved to hear he’s an SWP member and not in the National Front, as I’d always irrationally thought about skinheads.

We sat up talking about the strike and about music. He’s in a band himself called ‘The Redskins’, whom I’ve never heard of, but he’s brought me a record and a tape of their stuff which I’ll listen to tomorrow.