‘Thatcher film stirs bad blood’

Meryl Street in a scene from the The Iron Lady
Meryl Street in a scene from the The Iron Lady

RESIDENTS in former mining communities say they will boycott the new movie about ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as it “stirs bad blood”.

More than 25 years after the former Tory leader alienated much of Britain over the 1984-85 miner’s strike, emotions are still raw among the thousands of pitmen who lost their jobs when the local collieries closed.

Blackhall Councillor Alan Cox

Blackhall Councillor Alan Cox

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Mrs Thatcher oversaw a nation-wide programme of pit closures despite a toughly-fought battle from National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill.

In east Durham, ex-miners and union men say they will definitely be giving the new biopic The Iron Lady, which opened at cinemas on Friday and has its star Meryl Streep up for an Oscar, a wide berth.

Durham County Councillor Len O’Donnell, who represents Wingate, Castle Eden and Peterlee West, worked at Easingon pit from being 14 until retiring aged 53 in 1973.

The 79-year-old, who lives in Peterlee and has been on the county council for almost 21 years, said he saw his daughter lose her home after his miner son-in-law lost his job when the pit closed and his son was also thrown onto the dole queue after the closure.

Coun O’Donnell said: “Every time I see the trailer for that film I switch my telly off.

“As far as I’m concerned, that woman caused so much destruction to the mining communities, both to the industry and the families, she should have been put on trial for crimes against humanity.”

County councillor Alan Cox, 67, worked as an electrician for 28 years at Blackhall pit, as well as being employed at the Horden and Castle Eden and Hesleden collieries.

Coun Cox, who has been on the county council for 16 years and before that was member of Monkhesleden Parish Council for 25 years, became a magistrate in 1984, but did not officially preside over cases until 1985 as he did not want to judge his fellow miners caught up in scuffles during the strike.

Coun Cox, who took part in the 1984-1985 strike and two six-week national strikes in the 1970s, said: “I certainly wouldn’t go to see the film. Thatcher was the enemy of the working classes and the film is just stirring bad blood.

“I don’t know anyone that worked in the mining industry that has any respect for Maggie Thatcher or the Government she controlled.”