The other week, I was fortunate to be able to see a showing of a new film called Pride. It is a film about a group of lesbians and gay people from London who gave their support to striking miners in the Dulais Valley in South Wales during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
As someone who was very involved in supporting the miners during this bitter struggle, the film meant a lot to me. I well remember the support from the lesbian and gay community for the striking miners and my friend and colleague, Hywel Francis, who is now the Labour MP for Aberavon, was instrumental in establishing this link.
The film is well-worth going to see. It deals with the predictable cultural differences between the miners from a ‘traditional’ mining community and the members of the lesbian and gay community. What united them above all else was the realisation that Margaret Thatcher was opposed to both groups, albeit in different ways.
At times the film is extremely moving and has been tipped for a number of awards. One of the most poignant moments I found was towards the end of the film when bus loads of miners from South Wales arrived at a lesbian and gay Mardi Gras in London to thank their friends for their support during the strike. The first group of miners mentioned were from Caerphilly, followed soon after by miners from Bargoed.
The film has been released at a time when a new report has highlighted the impact of welfare cuts on former coal mining communities in South Wales. The report from Sheffield Hallam University demonstrates that the knock-on consequences of cuts to welfare payments is likely to be the loss of 3,000 jobs in local businesses.
This report shows that just as in 1984-85 there is a need for people in the valleys to fight back to defend their communities. The struggle may now assume a different form but it is a struggle nevertheless.
This article was written for the Rhymney Valley Express.