Last weekend I was in Whitby fossil hunting with my daughter, after freezing our backsides off on the beaches we took shelter in the towns cafes to warm up, we also happened upon a great little exhibition of Keith Pattison photographs recording the unrest and economic fall out of the miners strikes and shipyard closers in Yorkshire and the NorthEast in the 1980s. These events are over 30 years old, even though I remember the events quite clearly, it felt like visual archeology. Two things struck me whilst looking at the images; Firstly how much the country has changed on the surface, how unprepared and ill equipped both police and miners looked for such violent clashes. How militarised the British police look now, and how these days the miners would have been using social media and mobiles to coordinate events.
Secondly how much circumstances haven't changed since the 1980s and all of that social and economic unrest. We were told at the time unions were too powerful, the work force was flabby and uncompetitive, this had to change radically. Homelessness, unemployment, greed, outscoring and privatisation, privilege not meritocracy, selling off the family silver, overpriced housing, economic turmoil. 1980 or 2015?
All of Thatchers "enemy within" nonsense and the continuation of that dogma with Blair later on. "Much of what she wanted to do in the 1980s was inevitable, a consequence not of ideology but of social and economic change." Blair said, "Mrs Thatcher was absolutely on the side of history."
Some how I don't think so Tony, now look at us, hardly any industrial base, crumbling infrastructure, economically vulnerable, unsure of our place in the world. Insert Kiling Joke song. On the bright side, some beautiful and touching photographs.