The miners’ strike may have seemed to be a distant memory by now, yet a crass comment has opened up old wounds.
Though from a strong mining area, I have never had any direct connection to the industry. At the time it all kicked off we were living in Oxford, trying to build our careers and settling into married life. The miner’s strike seemed remote from us, both terms of geography and of experience.
At the time I had some sympathies with Thatcher’s detestation of the trades unions, at least the more powerful ones and saw the story played out on the evening news as a battle for control of the country. Looking back I realise that I was wrong and this was more a battle over ideologies, using the miners as a faux crisis to allow the introduction of more radical neoliberal policies.
Johnson knows this and his comments trying to rewrite this period of history as the start of the battle to create a local carbon economy have come across as callous, and blasé.
But let’s not be fooled. His comments were made in the clear knowledge of the uproar they would cause. The comments were not an accident, very few things that Johnson ever says are, but instead were planned to cause yet further division within the country. Far from being someone who wants to see the country united he wants to see faction set against faction. In this way, as long as he is on the right side of the argument he gets to win.
With the vast majority of the print and broadcast media behind him it is the story that matters not the content. He has no care for the truth but rather for the limelight.
His comments were crass, callous and blasé but were made to rekindle enthusiasm for him amongst his supporters. Invoking the souls of Thatcher is always a winner for the diehard conservative. He knew it would fire up his supporters and enrage his detractors.
The question we need to ask is what is the real news that he is hiding behind these words?