Still the Enemy Within is a unique insight into one of Britain’s most dramatic struggles, the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. No experts. No politicians. Thirty years on, this is the raw first-hand experience of those who lived through the UK’s longest strike. Follow the highs and lows of that life-changing year.
In 1984, a conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared war on the unions, taking on the strongest in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers. Following a secret plan, the government began announcing the closure of coal mines, threatening not just an industry but whole communities and a way of life.
Against all the forces the government could throw at them, 160 000 coal miners took up the fight and became part of a battle that would change the course of history.
Still the Enemy Within tells the story of a group of miners and supporters who were on the frontline of the strike for an entire year. These are the people that the media dubbed ‘Arthur’s Army’ and who Margaret Thatcher called ‘the Enemy Within’. Many of them have never spoken on camera before.
Using interviews and a wealth of rare and never before seen archive, Still the Enemy Within draws together personal experiences – whether they’re tragic, funny or terrifying – to tell the story of the key moments in the strike. It puts the viewer right at the centre of events.
Follow Norman Strike, from devising ingenious ways of getting past police road blocks in a key battleground, Nottingham, to suddenly finding himself a minor celebrity after a mishap on national television; Paul Symonds, from the optimism and excitement of a young man fighting for his future to the tragic death of his best friend on a picket line; Joyce Sheppard, from her life as an ordinary housewife to becoming a political activist and facing violence as huge numbers of police are sent in to Yorkshire villages to break the strike.
They, along with a range of voices from across the country, give a frank, emotional and ultimately inspiring account of ordinary people at the centre of extraordinary events.
From the infamous Battle of Orgreave, where miners found themselves in a brutal confrontation with over five thousand police, to the hardship endured after almost a year on strike – their story is not just one of personal drama but one that raises questions about the very nature of British society.
Still the Enemy Within shatters the mainstream narrative of the Miners’ Strike. It challenges us to look again at Britain’s past and how it shaped the world today, so that in the words of Yorkshire miner Steve Hammil, “we can still seek to do something about the future”.
The film will premiere at the Sheffield Documentary Festival 2014 in June, followed by a screening on the weekend on the Durham Miners Gala, 13th July in the Miners Hall at Redhill, Durham City.
More info – http://the-enemy-within.org.uk/
A village is proudly displaying a newly-restored reminder of its coal mining heritage.
The Marsden Lodge Banner, which represents all those pitmen who worked at Whitburn Colliery (also known as Marsden Colliery), was returned to South Tyneside in January last year after it had been in storage for more than two decades in the Miner’s Hall in Durham.
Since then, the banner has been lovingly restored by the Marsden Banner Group, a team of enthusiastic local volunteers dedicated to preserving the area’s mining heritage.
The colourful silk banner, which features the iconic image of Marsden Rock with the adage ‘Firm as a rock we stand’, has now been put on permanent display at Whitburn Library much to the delight of Whitburn and Marsden ward members, councillors Tracey Dixon, who is on the Banner Group committee, Peter Boyack and Sylvia Spraggon.
Speaking on behalf of the ward members, Coun Boyack said: “We’re all very proud of our rich mining heritage and it’s wonderful to see the Marsden Lodge Banner restored back to its former glory and put on display in the Borough for the public to view.
“It is a treasured memento, which marks Whitburn Colliery’s contribution to the once-thriving coal mining past, and up until now, it had remained hidden from sight since 1983.
“We’re delighted it now takes pride of place in the village and is helping to keep the spirit and culture of the local mining community alive.”
Coun Dixon added: “The vibrant colliery banners are icons of mining communities but the Marsden Lodge Banner was in a poor state of repair when it was returned to the Borough.
“The restoration project has taken many months to complete but we are delighted with the finished article.
“We’re really pleased that by displaying this symbol of mining life we can remind our younger generation of the significant role this industry played in the lives of their communities.”
The community-led restoration project has been supported with £500 funding from the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum and the skills of young apprentices from South Tyneside Homes Property Services Team who created the display case.
The intricate repair work was carried out by banner restorer Billy Middleton, a former blacksmith at Thornley and Easington collieries.
Whitburn Colliery opened in 1879 and was part of the South Tyneside coalmining industry until its closure in 1968.Before it went on display in Whitburn, the banner had not been seen on display since 1983 when it was carried at the centenary celebration of the Durham Miner’s Gala.
Source – Newcastle Journal 09 April 2014
Unite union has teamed up with Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) to set up a “community hub” centre at the Miners’ Hall in Red Hill, Durham, which they say will become a resource for those most in need of help to deal with cuts, changes in benefits such as the bedroom tax and the tests carried out by ATOS, the company contracted by the Government to carry out the fitness-to-work assessments.
It will also launch a Benefit Buddying scheme, offering peer-to-peer support for those who are most vulnerable and are facing difficulties (which sounds like it might be a good idea), and campaign for welfare rights.
The centre will open two days (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 – 15:00) with the volunteers also offering support, help to learn new skills and guidance as people search for work.
The official launch is on Friday, November 15, at 2pm.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of the DMA, said: “We have opened the community support centre in partnership with Unite in a response to the vicious attacks on the benefits system brought in by the Con-Dem Government.
“The last Conservative Government decimated our coal industry, now this Government is making the people of the North East suffer all over again.”