Christmas and unity
Christmas pressures tended to united pit communities. Socialist Organiser of 12 December reported from Kiveton Park:
“As television commercials paraded computers and spaceships before children’s eyes, Jenny Dennis had to tell her seven year old son Matthew that Santa Claus was a mere fantasy.
“Mathew reassured his parents that the sacrifice was worthwhile to preserve future hopes.
“Soon, though, sackfuls of toys and games arrived from trade unions like ASLEF at Derby and Labour Parties as far away as Bethnal Green and Stepney in East London.
“Jenny recently appealed for cash help at a miners’ benefit by the gay pop group Bronski Beat.
‘The support of our case by gay men and lesbians has challenged widespread assumptions in mining areas. Like the backing from black people, this has drawn parallels between each of our oppression at the hands of the police.
“The strike is seen as a catalyst of welcome change in the home of the Dennises and thousands of other miners’ families.
“John Dennis admits: ‘Life at present may be a daily fight to make ends meet. Picketing is tough, faced by intimidating police violence.
“Yet the flexibility of our lives, away from long pit shifts at all hours, reveals alternatives seldom considered earlier’.”
17 November: Coal Board refuses to negotiate unless NUM agrees to close pits.
21 November: Government increases deduction of benefits to £16 per week for strikers’ families.
28 November: TUC General Council seeks talks with Government.
30 November: a receiver is appointed to control NUM assets and funds.
5 December: Ian MacGregor comes clean and announces plans to privatise pits.
9 December: receiver and sequestrator try to seize £4.6 million NUM funds from Luxemburg, but the NUM application successfully freezes the account.
December: NUM leaders speaking tour of villages. Back to work drive tapers off, and collections increase as Christmas comes nearer.