In September I was asked by my friend Ian Rhys Jones at the research Institute WISERD to give a talk at their awayday about the bookThe Shadow of the Mine that I had written with Ray Hudson. The awayday became a virtual one, as a consequence of the virus, and we decided that rather than me speak for 40 minutes it would be more interesting to have a conversation about the book with my old friend Gareth Rees. This was recorded, and as with the interview for Jacobin it extends some of the issues that we discussed in the book. Some people have found this interesting, the video is below and here’s the link to the event on the WISERD site.
Well our new book The Shadow of the Mine: Coal and the End of Industrial Britain is now published and also reviewed here and there:
“A hymn to working-class community and to men and women’s souls” Will Hutton, author of The State We’re In
“Refreshing and necessary … [The Shadow of the Mine] explains in loving, careful detail why working people’s relationship with Labour in former industrial communities … had become complex and ultimately soured.” Laura Pidcock, Red Pepper
“Their brilliant analysis of the decline of British coal mining, and its social and political effects, is required reading for those who would speak for this working class. It is in many ways a study in the lost world of British labourism.” David Edgerton, The Times Literary Supplement
“The Shadow of the Mine reminds us why this spirit [of solidarity and collectivism] has lived on in the coalfields, in spite of people feeling a sense of political betrayal going back decades … enlightening.” The Guardian
“Their new book is essential reading for anyone who wants to dig deeper beyond vague generalizations about the “red wall” that have proliferated since December 2019…Beynon and Hudson encourage us to explore the long-term trends that have shaped the bewildering political situation we find ourselves in now” Charlotte Austin, Jacobin
“The Shadow of the Mine, is a moving account of 150 years of coalfield history, focusing on South Wales and Durham. It is not, however, a detached study of the past. By tracing the “deep story” of the marginalisation of Britain’s coalfields, it aims to understand the continuing exclusion of working-class people in deindustrialised areas from political and social life…if the current Labour leader wants to understand the challenges facing him, he would be far better reading The Shadow of the Mine than listening to PR companies telling him to wrap the party in a union jack.” Diarmaid Kelliher, Antipode Online
About the book
The Shadow of the Mine: Coal and the End of Industrial Britain, London, Verso, 2021, 402pp. ISBN -13:978-1-83976-156-0
This historical study of the coal industry tells of King Coal in its heyday and how communities of mining families created a unique and powerful social and political presence in areas like South Wales and Durham. In 1984 miners here were involved in a yearlong strike to save jobs and to save coal mining. After the defeat the industry went into precipitous decline and this book outlines the social and political consequences that followed: often told in the words of the people themselves.
There is an insert of glossy black photographs in the middle of our new book, The Shadow of the Mine. They illustrate thew story of the book: the overwhelming presence of mining, the strike to save to industry and the community response, the closures, the changing landscapes of decline sitting alongside the promises of new industry and a better way of life. The selection ends with the response from within – collective ownership of the mine at Tower and the continuation of the annual Big Meeting in Durham. We have brought them together here along with a couple of additions of our own:
Thanks to Kjell-Åke Andersson, Paul Reas and Keith Pattison
It’s now 30 years since the epic struggle between the miners and a Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher, a strike that lasted a bitter twelve months. Former Labour government minister Kim Howells was involved at the heart of the action, working for the National Union of Mineworkers in South Wales. In this deeply-felt memoir, he asks some challenging questions about the conduct, the strategy and the outcomes of the strike.
This memoir by Kim Howells was Broadcast on BBC One, 10:25PM Sun, 9 Mar 2014, and is available on the Iplayer until 11:24PM Sun, 16 Mar 2014.