Watch.. The Happy Lands (2012) Set in Fife in Scotland in 1926, it uses a combination of dramatic scenes, archive film and local people as actors to tell the story of the miners’ strike which lasted from May to November. Fife was a strong hold of the Communist Party, it returned a Communist MP for many years, and in this film you really understand why working class people did believe that a revolution was the only answer to the poverty, hardship and discrimination that they were experiencing. Like today, in 1926 it was the miners and their families who were told by the government that they would have to work longer and for less money as the fat cats of the private mining industry raked off the profits. The mining community refused to be treated as slaves and the film documents the tremendous battle that takes place as the country is taken to the edge of revolution. The film reminds me of Jim Allen’s Days of Hope because of its no holds barred and partisan approach to left wing history. Watch and be inspired.
More about the miners…in 1992 the Tory government announced even more pit closures, but this time it was the Women against Pit Closures who led the campaign and occupied six pits to highlight how important coal was to the country and that it was sheer vandalism to destroy jobs and communities. I visited the Trentham colliery in Stoke in May 1993 when three women from the North Staffordshire Miners Wives Action Group had chained themselves to railings by the two mile deep No 1 pit shaft and stayed there for three days and four nights.From this a play was devised called Nice Girls which toured the country. It’s good that this history is being remembered at a time when we are learning once again how important coal is and was for our country. A new play written by Maxine Peake about Anne Scargill and the occupation of Parkside Colliery, Newton-le-Willows called Queens of the Coal Age will be broadcast at 2.15pm on Radio 4 on Monday 4 November.
Further info see
Remember Remember the 5 November…the Bonfire of Austerity takes place across the country in a national day of disobediance across towns, cities and villages, people will be marching, occupying and showing their opposition to austerity. Here are some of the events;
Bolton – various activities going on across the borough…further info see
Salford – join a protest against the closure of mental health wards at 2pm onwards, on Stott Lane by Meadowbrook and Salford Royal hospitals
Tameside – occupy a public space -meet 12.30 Gold Medal Cafe, Old St. Ashton-u-Lyne and 6pm at Ashton Moss Allotments enjoy a socal with refreshments. Further info Nigel – 07709056079
Manchester – join a torch lit procession – starts 5pm at Albert Bridge House, Bridge St. Manchester M60 9AT – further details see
Find out about..feminist activity across the country at Storm in a Teacup – a feminist arts collective based in London – which has included the North West Labour Women’s History Conference.
Look at…Grayson Perry’s exhibition; The Vanity of Small Differences at Manchester City Art Gallery. He created six tapestries whilst making the documentary All in the Best Possible Taste. His inspiration was Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, the tale of a young man who squanders his inherited fortune and dies in an asylum. He says “the tapestries tell the story of class mobility”. Whilst recognising the creative beauty of the tapestries, and Perry’s insight into modern culture, I have to say I found the content depressing and once again rolling out all the usual stereotypes of working class people. No-one is reading a book, has compassion for their neighbours or communities or is active in any kind of political campaign. Not everyone defines themself by consumerism and working class people are much more complex than this exhibition would admit to. I think he needs to watch Happy Lands…