The oppression the miner’s endured during 1984-85 in West Yorkshire

The lie machine’ and Only doing their job’ from the Miners Campaign Tape Project were the two films we were exposed to this week. The narrative reveals BBC’s devious, deceitful and dishonest actions. BBC changed the order of events that occurred during the miner strike. The footage aired was edited prior to broadcasting in order to portray the miners at fault when in actual fact the police charged in at the miners and thus they retorted to violence by chucking bricks. On-going issues within the police force at present disclose their insincere actions and misconduct; this is reflected in the Hillsborough investigation. In light of this new evidence the miners’ strike handling has been referred to the IPCC and according to the Guardian they will be “investigated for possible assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office” (Guardian, 2012).

My familiarization with the miner strike that occurred in West Yorkshire during 1984-85 was minimal and thus I wanted to expand my comprehension. Billy Elliot the musical was showing in Victoria Palace in London, to explore the themes and gain a comprehensive understanding, I journeyed my way there. The use of political theatre exposes the turmoil of the coal miner’s strike. Described as “one of the darkest times in British History… the mining town in which he lives experiences relentless hardship and despair” (Durham performing arts centre, 2010). The artistic representation was embodied outstandingly through the characters, music, lighting and use of space on stage. The struggle highlighted Billy’s father in need of money so that he could send Billy to school but it was evident that money and food was scarce.

Thatcher’s right wing Conservative aim was to increase capitalism and reduce the working class state. ‘The lie machine’ displays interviews with the miners, Thatcher’s characteristics are described as manipulative, because she abused her authority as prime minister to give knighthood to the editors of mainstream media such as Sir Larry Lamb editor of the Daily Express, Sir John Junor editor of the Sunday Express and Sir David English editor of the Daily Mail. This allowed her to have consistent access with them about what was and wasn’t published.

Essayists such as Herman and Chomsky reinforce the latter issue in relation to America about the how material is published. In their book ‘Manufacturing to Consent’ Herman argues that media cannot give the audience the real truth because they do not satisfy the five filters. The first filter is about the idea of ownership and the third filter questions who the use as their sources?  It is evident that Margaret Thatcher and the police would be reliable sources and miners would be disregarded (Herman and Chomsky, 1988).

Click on the link below and scroll down to see the ownership of mainstream tabloids and broadsheets today:

Article 10 of the UDHR states everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”

Article 19 of the UDHR states “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

During the miner strike the aforesaid rights were not implemented amongst many others. (Click on the link below to glance through the rights that every human is entitled to).

The emergence of political policing is displayed in the comparative film the battle for Orgreave. The public disorder exposed was shocking in my eyes. Similarly the films shown this week also elucidate the mockery that the miners faced. The gruesome images that were taken whilst the strike was occurring divulge the defendants bleeding, for example James O’Brian expresses what actually happened and why the police pointlessly attacked him without motive.

One of the lawyers for the defendants talks about her experience and describes the police and courts as “treating the miners like cattle with contempt remanded on extraordinary bail conditions with no regard for the evidence” (Mike Figgis, 2012). Refuting to produce evidence and not providing a fair trail exemplifies a violation of article 10 in the UDHR. A positive modification on policing can be seen in The Public Order Act 1986 that was passed because of growing apprehension over protests and industrial disputes. One may come to the conclusion that police officers were prepared to fabricate evidence against the miners.

The police, a governmental body who is supposed to be enforcing rights, infringed the miner’s human rights. Their subversive actions have been acknowledged into more depth in light of the Hillsborough investigation. The legislations that passed deriving from the miner strike in my opinion is a positive one because their rights have been recognised and reinforced before the law. Film was used resourcefully to disclose the oppression the miners endured by the Conservative government. The voices of the miners were heard but yet the government could have done more or the case would not be in the eyes of the IPCC today.

VHS gave miner’s the opportunity to be heard and reveal the propaganda approach the media and government had used.

Click on the link below to view more about the working-class television that defines the Miner’s Campaign Tape Project into depth.


Durham performing arts center., (2010) The 1984 Miners’ Strike: The history behind Billy Elliot the Musical. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 06 November 12].

Guardian., (2012) Miners’ strike: police to be investigated over ‘battle of Orgreave. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 November 12].

Herman, E. & Chomsky, N., (1988) Manufacturing consent. London: Vintage.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights., (Undated) Preamble. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 12 November 12].

Mike Figgis., (2012) The Battle for Orgreave. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 12 November 12].

Coup pour Coup / Blow for Blow (1972)

Without Nelson Mandela we wouldn’t have people fighting for social justice,

Without Martin Luther King we wouldn’t have people fighting for racial equality,

Without Ghandi we wouldn’t have people fighting for injustice.

The aforementioned names are people, people who fight for the their rights to be heard for namely justice, equality and freedom. Just as women did in Paris 1968, they fought for their fundamental rights to be enshrined.

Click on the images below to learn more about what each individual fought for:

This American rhetoric was delivered on August 28 1963.

Recognised for his struggle to demolish apartheid regime in South Africa he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

His doctrine of a non-violent protest deemed to accomplish the political and social progress.

With this in mind I will be focusing on the film Coup pour Coup and the oppression women faced at the textiles factory, this intrigued me to find out how far freethinking individuals were willing to go so that their rights were implemented. The film exposes women who eventually became alienated to the extent they show signs of madness. They cannot endure the tiredness and become rebellious in effect they sabotage machines so they could stop working. The violation of their rights gave the women encouragement to confront the boss in respect to the inhumane discipline. In the process two of the agitators were fired and as a result the women became even more eager to unite to obtain their reinstatement.

In this film Marin Karmitz produces an aesthetic film through the use of actors who were in actual fact the real strikers. “Karmitz’s film tries directly to bypass the social and cinematic obstacles to present a realistic picture of both work and the struggle against work” (Film unemployment, 2012). As the titles are showing at the end the director’s name shows amongst the others, I admire this authentic approach as he saw himself equal to the other cast who helped produce the movie. “It is a genuine attempt to undercut the non-egalitarian nature of most cinematic production and present a didactic model of social resistance at the same time” (Ibid, 2012).


At the end of them film there is freeze frame of the women united with this boss, this frame is used whilst a voice-over is extolling the resistance the women have faced. There was a particular saying in the voice-over that intrigued me “don’t forget that your great victory is the unity with our own strength. Unity with our husbands, who are now aware of out struggle. Unity with other factories” (Ibid, 2012). The repetition of the word unity represented the victorious three-week strike in rural France and this simplicity was portrayed in the film when a shot was taken of the husbands cooking, cleaning and looking after the children. Moreover, looking at the language used in the voice over there is the technique called the power of three prevalent that is used to make a speech more memorable.

The struggle for the women in factories was well acknowledged by everyone in the late 1960’s and so Jean-Luc Godard produced Tout Va Biento reveal the degrading treatment. When Coup pour Coup was released in 1972 critics were quick to disparage because of the comparison between the two. There were different representations on the strike displayed by directors; below I have shown a link to an interview by Godard, this reveals how he believes his work differentiated from Karmitz’s.

Godard explains why his movie was more practical to describe what happened during the revolution. His main argument is that Karmitz shows the women voicing themselves, however they didn’t voice themselves for such a long time. Godarad allows cast members to have up to 3 minutes each to explain what the strike meant to them; therefore he believes this is a practical approach as it reveals a realistic concept.

To conclude I think Coup pour Coup demonstrated how the women fought for their rights in a simple artistic way, so that the audience could relate to it and comprehend to the severity they encountered. For example, in the beginning Karmitz’s showed how the workers were denied the right to go to the toilet whilst working and when they had held the boss hostage they also denied him the right to go to the toilet. This was done through a comical concept but yet a profound one to make one sympathise with the workers. They wanted to make the protest a successful one by uniting with their co-workers and families but without the help of the Trade Union. I admired their courage to stand up and fight for their freedom of expression, which I believe, was honorably successful.


Film Unemployment cinema. (2010) MARCH’s SCREENING – Coup Pour Coup (Blow For Blow). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 02 November 12].

‪Laura Sánchez (2006) Entrevista a Godard/ Godard Interview[Online] Available at: [Accessed 29 October November 2012].