Fifty years ago today, British miners concluded a national strike after defeating their Conservative government. The 1972 victory opened up a decade of working-class radicalism, before Margaret Thatcher’s counterrevolution crippled organized labor.
Ewan Gibbs teaches history at the University of Glasgow.
Coal mining regions were central to Britain’s labor movement, and the industry’s decline has left a gaping hole. This social crisis and political vacuum made Boris Johnson’s election victory possible — but the Tories haven’t conquered the coalfields yet.
Margaret Thatcher rose to power in Britain during an age of economic crisis and political polarization, much like the country today. By defeating its opponents at home and abroad, her government helped kickstart the neoliberal era. We’re still living with the consequences.