Labour History Review

A Tradition of Radicalism: The Politics of the South Wales Miners, 1964–1985

Labour History Review (2011), 76, (1), 34–50.

Abstract

This essay examines the political culture and history of the South Wales Area of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) during the later twentieth century and particularly the 1984–1985 strike. The focus of investigation is on the constituent aspects of the miners' politics: the effect of the Area's structure, geographical considerations, the role played by political activists within the South Wales NUM, together with the interaction of all these factors. Several basic conclusions are drawn. First, the democratic structure of the South Wales NUM promoted policies and individuals who reflected the viewpoint of the broader membership. In this way, the historically created and culturally reinforced 'traditional radicalism' that emanated primarily from the central Valleys' lodges came to play the defining role within the political culture of the Area. On a party-political level, the miners' basic outlook was 'left Labourism'. Within this broad 'labourist' framework, Communist Party and Trotskyist activists contributed to the overall tone and direction of politics within the coalfield. Overall, it was the combined effect of these factors that produced the distinctive political radicalism of the south Wales miners.

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Author details

Curtis, Ben