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Waiting for the RevolutionThe British Far Left from 1956$
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Evan Smith and Matthew Worley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113658

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113658.001.0001

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Making miners militant?

Making miners militant?

The Communist Party of Great Britain in the National Union of Mineworkers, 1956–85

Chapter:
(p.107) 6 Making miners militant?
Source:
Waiting for the Revolution
Author(s):

Sheryl Bernadette Buckley

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781526113658.003.0007

The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was a visible presence across many significant trade unions in the post-war period, largely due to its industrial strategy. The party envisaged that politicising the rank and file of important trade unions and also capturing the leadership of these unions would allow it to influence the Labour Party, as these unions held a significant number of votes at Labour's annual conference. This chapter analyses the success of this strategy in the National Union of Mineworkers, a union that became increasingly emblematic of the difficulties trade unions faced in the late twentieth century, particularly obvious through its 1984 strike. This chapter considers the relationship between Communists in the party and those in the union, exploring the extent to which the party's strategy translated into the union in practice, and understanding if there was any conflict between these two groups who occupied distinctly different roles. Unpicking the concept of 'wage militancy', the way through which the party felt politicisation of the union rank and file would best be achieved, the chapter frames this discussion within the broader context of the increasingly divided CPGB, the political and economic policies of Labour and Conservative governments, and the union's national strikes.

Keywords:   Communist Party of Great Britain, Communists, Union, NUM, Miners, Strike, Wage Militancy, Industrial Strategy

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