Still The Enemy Within

Produced by Sinead Kirwan
Directed by Owen Gower
Crosby Plaza
6th November 2014

Reviewed by John Owen

Like an interview with the lion from the Wizard of Oz in his trailer, still after 40 years in the same make up and costume on the search for a remake hope of a rerun a sequel, this time I’ll be ready for the action though!

A ruffled proud mane lone warrior against desolate industrial bleak landscape from a once proud Spartan warrior tribe called miners, giving us a slice of history for today’s hungry for adventure and realism, shoot em up games fed younger generation.

To figure out and absorb some of this fighting history of the once proud battalion of the working-class, if not the vanguard of the whole trade union movement. in the onward march for peace and socialism.

We must see the commodity coal, king coal, something so crucial to the economic life of the early part of the industrial revolution that put Britain on the map and help build its empire, one where the sun never set, and the workshop of the world hammered out goods for the rest of the globe. A sort of low tech gold, before the prominence of oil, and USA surpassing Britain’s economic might.

It was Ironic that a man called MacGregor, a yank, was wheeled in to wield the axe on the so-called uneconomic pits, proving Arthur Scargill’s warnings of destruction to be true.

The film includes footage of miners, men women and children suddenly being attacked by police after being labelled the enemy, who were to be crushed like a foreign enemy, such as the Argies were during the Falklands or Malvinas war.

A censorship and complicity of embedded journalism from the yellow press ensured the bosses' view were pumped out of all media channels, war time propaganda depicting violent thugs preventing lawful workers being escorted by thousands of police, usually a few loathsome scabs, into empty collieries.

Simultaneously we see footage of members of Liverpool council attacking Thatcherism, but on a parliamentary or municipal fisticuffs plane doing a deal with the Tories and palming it off as a victory.

For a small concession on the rates, they left the miners to face winter and starvation alone; claiming a strategic retreat from confrontation was in order to avoid a lone battle after other councils backed down, pointing the finger at the TUC and the Labour party for forcing their hand.

Meanwhile a long battle of survival of almost 180,000 miners, their families and the surrounding areas close to half a million people in the towns and villages they lived in, and the way of life was being given the Holocaust treatment to erase their input to the nation.

We see the thin blue line, the meat in the sandwich, the boys in blue, or Thatcher’s boot boys, become paramilitary foot soldier, and scenes reminiscent of Allende's Chile unfolding in mining areas across the country.

The longest industrial dispute, in political terms, in Britain with massive unrest over unemployment, including riots, a plan was secretly drawn up to contain and repress prospects of revolution.Stemming any source of unrest preventing overthrow of the social order, that is free market economic privatisation, and American guru Milton Friedman replacing Labour's Keynesian economic intervention of the state in industry.

A heavy price is paid both in human and economic stability terms, as we are now experiencing with austerity measures, the name of the game.

The Battle of Orgreave, as it became known, with peaceful mass picketing in June at the coking depot, the plan being to choke off the supply to steel mills and other industries, thus forcing a general strike.

It proved to be a turning point in the strike, a watershed also in industrial relations, as the state grew tougher,so did the call for more militant and decisive action, secondary picketing and further retreats from the TUC and Labour leader Neil Kinnock, always ready to give the gutter press a snippet or sound bite, condemning violence of miners, never the cops.

The personal approach by the film makers with individual narratives, heart breaking, funny and pathetic all at once, all saying they would do it all again. despite terrible losses and suffering of families and friends.

The civil war in the pits, not since the 1926 general strike, as such emotions been stirred, such passion displayed, lions led by donkeys as they said of the First World War troops. But the miners had good leaders, the rest of the so-called left was found wanting - weak, ineffective, stuck in intellectual infighting and posturing, and generally abysmal, including the pantomime lions of the councils.

Positive things happened and changed the world we live in Britain forever. The women organised and fought back, not just as miners wives but as a political force to be reckoned with.

They forced the men out of the old ways and introduced newer methods of raising support through food kitchens, a far cry from the Russell Foundation or Tesco food boxes of today for the guilt -ridden middle classes.

The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) grouping supported the miners groups. They went to mining areas with money and food and spoke in the former bastions of male privilege. They got rousing support and acceptance from people, throwing off the shackles of mind forged manacles. The blinkers were coming off, and coalescing around the miners strike were minorities hitherto unorganised or unseen, stood shoulder to shoulder with their cause.

A lively Q&A session followed, with the bits left out being the main grits people wanted to chew over with the producer of the film, Sinead Kirwan.. She was able to reply to most of them.

The screening of the film could have done with more publicity but it’s on again in St Helens on the 27th November.

Still The Enemy Within has travelled the length and breadth of the country to great acclaim. Miners with previous allegiance to the Labour party have booed Kinnock's appearance on film. in his own constituency, thirty years o, the feelings are still red raw.

An interview with the producer Sinead Kirwan should be going up on Nerve Radio soon.

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