The 1984/5 miners strike : the politicising effects
Commentators at the time made great reference to the effect of the 1984/5 Miners' Strike upon those living in the mining communities, especially the women. As Goodman stated, "Arthur Scargill's claim that the strike 'politicized' people as had no previous postwar industrial event, was certainly correct.". In terms of the impact of the strike upon public opinion and electoral behaviour it is true that mining constituencies nationally did experience a significant surge in turn-out at the 1987 general election. To what extent was this symptomatic of the politicising effects of the 'Great Miners' Strike'? This thesis examines the extent to which the inhabitants of one mining community, Hemsworth in West Yorkshire, were or were not politicised as a direct result of the 1984/5 Miners' Strike. The research is based upon 60 indepth interviews, undertaken between 1989 and 1994, with a cross-section of the community. Whilst interest in the politicising effects has tailed off since the end of the strike the subject area remains important both because of the continued political importance of the future of the coalfields, as demonstrated following the October 1992 pit closure announcement, and for what it can tell us about how and why some people become politicised. This thesis analyses the extent to which politicisation and changes in public opinion took place in Hemsworth and the extent to which these can be iv attributed to the 1984/5 Strike. A tripartite definition of politicisation is employed: political awareness, political participation and behavioural changes. The roles played by the police and the media are stressed, as is the impact upon the women. The research suggests that the Strike was a significant politicising event, especially upon certain sectors of the community such as the women and those who participated in activities such as picketing. It had a profound effect upon both attitudes and behaviour. It also motivated people who claimed never to have had any interest in politics. To quote one commentator on the Miners' Strike, they were "Never the same again".