It's going down at . . . "A strike is an economic stoppage. A strike does not plead. It does not demand. It simply does. A global climate strike stops the economic and political systems responsible for the climate crisis."

Ladies and gentlemen. Comrades all. I have been asked in five minutes to recall the events and effects of the 1984 National Miners’ Strike from my own point of view.


As miners in 1984 we were called out on strike, not by our national union officials in high places but by our local delegates. Why? Because the Tory government of the day had prepared a plan of action fit of any warlord; and believe me they were ready for war.

Tory tactic one. Preparation.

The NBC had front loaded huge coal production bonuses on the miners of the biggest coalfield in the country, Nottinghamshire. Big money.

Tory tactic two. Bribery.

Throughout the whole winter coal stocks were piled higher than ever seen before and by Spring their action began.

Tory tactic three, timing.

They chose to pick on one pit at a time and give the union notice of closure.

Tory tactic four, targeting.

Our national officials "knew" calling a national strike ballot would result in failure; Nottingham miners had now a taste of the high living bonuses bribery could buy.

Tory tactic five. Divide and conquer.

Week after week, pit after pit was announced to close and the miners affected started to picket working pits for their support. Strikebreakers who continued to work were paid full wages and bonuses to sit at the pithead and phone striking miners to come back to work. Payments of Judas. The Tory government made laws overnight, which the police were instructed to enforce.

Tory tactic six. Bend the law.

Can you believe it? It became illegal to travel by bus to a picket line. Yes, drivers were threatened with losing their license if they did not turn back. It became illegal to stop coal lorries and ask the drivers not to cross your picket line and the police enforced it. In all trade union history this had never happened before and it has never happened since.

Comrades, all this was going on while the T.U.C. sat in meeting and decided to take no action to support the miners’ cause.

So after twelve months the miners were broken, over 100 miners in Scotland were sacked for simple picketing offenses and never got their jobs back. These 100 union members marched with the miners back to the pit gates and then returned to their families jobless and penniless, but with dignity and respect. The steelworkers at Ravencraig (where I was arrested) were next on the government’s hit list; and trust me comrade I did not picket to support them.

From this year of the Miners’ Strike 1984 the T.U.C. has never been the same and until they learn the meaning of the word, SOLIDARITY, they never will. Oh yes! We can learn a lot from the Miners’ Strike of 84 and we better have, because we may soon all be called on to face the Tory government again, but this time we are fighting for civilization itself.

I speak to you as a senior citizen, an old man, living in the hands of a new Tory government overseeing climate change in our country. I was a good living citizen before the Miners’ Strike, then criminalized by Tory laws, since then I have been to the Queen to receive an M.B.E. for 30 years of work in my community, a good living citizen again.

But guess what?

Comrades, I am an honorable miner and if I am needed to picket, to block roads, to assemble and protest, against the lack of Tory government action to save our planet for our children’s future, guess where you will find me - yes me the criminal. I hope you will join me.

 ~ Brian Tannerhill

Thank you to Nathaniel Adam Smith of Virginia for transcribing these remarks.