Some people on the Left seem unhappy about condemning the infringement of women and workers’ rights in Iran today. Such unease didn’t exist back in the early 80s.
Most of the Left did not welcome the victory of theocrats in Iran. Like many people in that country’s major urban centres, they had hoped for a democracy and a secular republic.
Not only was there dismay at the rise of the “mullahs” – but also the widespread use of capital punishment. It was not only the Shah of Iran’s people being rounded up and disappeared but socialists and democracy activists.
This is a flier for a meeting from the time opposing some of the recent hangings and naming the victims. Labour party members were repelled by this barbarity and were joined by Muslim students in the UK. There were calls for “solidarity” with Iranian workers against the ayatollahs.
Maybe those who are reticent to criticise the Iranian government today should read this blog and remember what the Left used to stand for.
Bested by the miners in 1981
We all know Thatcher defeated the National Union of Mineworkers in 1985 – but not before, through heavily gritted teeth, she climbed down in the face of the miners in 1981.
On 10th February that year, the Prime Minister announced the closure of 23 pits. This was part of a Tory drive to ‘slim down’ and eventually privatise the nationalised industries that then existed in the UK – like the National Coal Board and British Leyland, which dominated the car industry.
The miners had been instrumental in bringing down the 1970-74 Conservative government of Ted Heath and so the fight with the NUM wasn’t just political and economic…but totemic and personal.
Thatcher was going to take down the workers who took down the Tories seven years before. But in 1981, it was not to be. Faced with strike action, she caved in eight days later. The show down with the pit workers would have to wait another three years…
Click HERE to read the BBC account of what happened.
Here is leaflet I have in my collection when miners and NHS workers took action together in the early 80s.
Nurse and miner