Most people around me don’t think in terms of class war, or even of their own lives as being remotely involved in any sort of class war. In fact most people that I come into contact with and on a daily basis where I live, don’t even think or look upon themselves as being members of the working classes.
The relationship that provides the foundation and understanding of being ‘working class’ has truthfully been undermined and deliberately weakened by diminution during the course of the last 30 years or so, and I would say - quite successfully at that.
When I was at school many moons ago now, and when I eventually left (freedom) in the early seventies, people around me then, which at the time to be honest and unpretentious; I didn't really appreciate or even understand, or it may have been that I had always taken it for granted, having grown up in a working class environment where most families worked or were connected with steel making; the thing is they had no problem in describing themselves as being working class, and they by and the large, were proud of their working class heritage and family practices that were handed down from the past by tradition, these included, a real common sense understanding of community, both socially and economically. People back then really did stand together, not on everything but on a hell of a lot; and if I was to personally put a date on when this all fell apart, then it would be with the election of Thatcher, then the 1984 miners strike.
The miners strike of 1984-85 will always be remembered in modern day British working class history as the most significant turning point in the power relationship between the working class organisations of the trade unions, and the state representing as it always has, the interests of the privileged minority in the late twentieth century. The losses endured by the working class and their organisations as a whole with the defeat of the miners are still felt to this very day, and attempting to be rebuilt, as are the shattered communities of the ex-pit towns and many others has been a long arduous task, the movement suffered as a consequence and the agents of capitalism moved in on the Labour Party and thus ensuring that anti-trade union legislation stayed in place.
Understanding the struggle and the lessons that can be drawn from it during those months of 1984-85 are of utmost importance, and especially if as is happening now, that a new movement reassembles to pick-up, and take up the class banner with a renewed confidence.
Somewhere, I read this last week, that many of the thousands who came-out on strike on Thursday in defence of their pensions and working conditions; well this would have been the first time they had ever taken part in any form of industrial action. And despite the orchestrated and engineered hostility of all three main party political (some petty) leaders and ragbag of the British media and press, they not only won over and retain the support of a majority who have begun to question like never before, and indeed for a very long time, the real class divisions that exist in our society.
And I can veritably say that I do feel this in my waters, like never before. But like everything else, never count your chickens before the egg’s have hatched and chicks have emerged. However having said that there now exists and an establishing of a renewed promising movement of resistance in Towns and City's up and down this land.
People now start to slowly realise that the Labour government elected in 1997 made little pretence of aiming to change society, just of running capitalism in a ‘modernised’ way. As the decade ended, we can look back on a period when hopes for a better and safer world had been cruelly dashed, when both left-and-right wing approaches to running capitalism had well and truly failed to change or tame the nature of the beast.
Poverty, starvation and misery remain the lot of many, while a handful of billionaires and corporations dominate with grater power and wealth. It is their economic mess and greed that is the nemesis of much miserableness today, that has led a new generation to start to reject the materialist world and relate to the class struggle. And I for one was reminded of this yesterday by Anna Mason a 15-year-old from Liverpool who on March 26 the day of the TUC demonstration, was arrested and detained for 24 hours after occupying London’s Fortnum & Mason as part of a peaceful highlighting of corporate tax evaders.
Anna, was subjected to a strip search had her DNA taken and treated in general as a common criminal whilst in police custody - you can read about Anna and the other 132 campaigners arrested and detained for up to 24 hours here. Fortnum & Mason
In an inspiring statement given to the Independent Anna said:
“ The whole experience has been exhausting, emotional and confusing and I never thought it would happen to me. I’ve sometimes found it hard to even go into school and keep studying for my GCSEs, but now I’ve taken them I’m going to pour my energy into supporting other defendants facing charges. I know what they have been through and how hard it can be. Now, I want to help them.”