Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Jeremy Deller - and his telling of the miner's strikes.

I'm a girl from Wales. I'm a girl from Kent. I'm a girl from Derbyshire. I'm a girl who's background is interwoven with mining communities. So today when I went to see the Jeremy Deller exhibition at the Haywood Gallery in London, I was greatly moved by his piece on "The Battle of Orgreave (An injury to one is an injury to all)". It was about the 1984-5 miners strike and violent conflicts with police. It was about the bullying of the trade unions and Margaret Thatcher's biggest legacy: the way she really changed working class Britain, communities, lives and the landscape of our country.

I have grown up with these stories told from a working man's point of view. How the BBC betrayed them and lied to the public in the service of the government. But I didn't know that Sun printers actually refused to print headlines which slandered the Union. That makes me proud. And sad that they were even asked. It was a dirty civil war.

It's interesting in light of recent demos against the new Conservative Government by students and Union members which were portrayed in a similarly sensationalist and biased way. I saw police intimidation with my own eyes and hear reports of children being kettled for 10 hours in the cold by police. That didn't appear in the news did it?

I went to see "The Iron Lady" with my family at Christmas. I found it told a very sugar-coated version of Margaret Thatcher's life. What an amazing woman it said. Look at how she's just a poor old lady now. Maybe we should pity her. What the film skirted over was how hated she still is. It didn't show the communities left with nothing, the social problems she created. The way that working class has become a dirty word denoting benefit scroungers.

That is her legacy.

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