I tend to watch a lot of UK panel shows and while most of the comedians are Labour/liberal I'm still surprised at just how much they seem to hate Margaret Thatcher. Particularly this seems to be about the way she handled the Miner's strike in 1984.

What is the social history of popular disagreement with Thatcher's policies on mines and her handling of the Miner's strike and it's aftermath?

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    +1 Interesting to me as an Asian. Back then Thatcher looked like an Iron Woman The Strong to me.
    – user12387
    Feb 9, 2019 at 11:21
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    @SamuelRussell I'm happy for any suggestions for removing any political bias from the question. I'm sure I'm more Tory than Labour coming from a country who spent 40 years under communist rule, and personally being much better off under the capitalist (right wing) regime, but this was not meant to be a confirmation bait question.
    – DRF
    Feb 9, 2019 at 11:43
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    I’ve stripped the closed ended bias, and given your real question which is the social reason for continued disagreement with a policy from the 1980s Feb 9, 2019 at 11:54
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    @DRF - Welcome to the site. Closer to original question, miners were symbolic of Thatcher's policies to dismantle unions. See Battle of Orgreave on the brutality of Police in disrupting strikes. Even after 30 years (2015), there were still calls for an independent inquiry in police misconduct. That should give an idea of how badly miners were treated then. Not sure if this little info fits an answer. Hence, made as comment.
    – J Asia
    Feb 9, 2019 at 18:13
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    I can't help but wonder whether the "popular disagreement" is coming from a small (but vocal) segment of the population. After all, she did manage to remain Prime Minister for more than a decade. which certainly suggests that the majority of voters preferred Conservative policies to the Labour alternatives.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 10, 2019 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


edit: originally this question asked specifically about modern comedians, and that's what I've tried to answer below.

The UK comedy scene, once called 'alternative comedy' started as an anti-Thatcher subculture in urban comedy clubs. 'Thatcher, eh?' used to be a lazy go-to line for a comedian to show he was 'one of us'.

Before that, UK comedy generally depended on super inoffensive 'mother in law jokes', or blatant racism at the other extreme. So be grateful!

By mil jokes, I mean jokes so bland (and usually unfunny) that you wouldn't mind telling them to your prudish mil, not jokes about her.

The above being said;

  • There was a great deal of police brutality, particularly by the Met.

  • There was little attempt to provide alternative employment in the old coal areas. Many miners have remained unemployed to this day.

  • The ex-mining areas, generally up north or in the other home nations, have remained economically depressed for the subsequent generations.

  • More broadly, Thatcher is the figurehead of the philosophies which degraded our public services, and fostered horrendous inequality.

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    ' ... particularly by the Met'? I hadn't realised that there was a great deal of coal mining in the Metropolitan Police jurisdiction (Greater London). Feb 9, 2019 at 11:46
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    There isn't. Thatcher sent police from all over the country to the striking areas. She felt that local police would be too soft on their own community!
    – Ne Mo
    Feb 9, 2019 at 11:56
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    I know. I also know that command of policing remained with the regions, so those officers were temporarily attached to those forces. Which is why you may want to cite some evidence to support your claim that the 'police brutality' was particularly by the Met. Feb 9, 2019 at 12:00
  • That observation is based on conversations I have had with police officers who were involved in policing the strike. No one's obliged to take it at face value, but personal experiences have long been considered an acceptable kind of source here. Everything else I said I'm too lazy to source, but can be trivially looked up on Wikipedia.
    – Ne Mo
    Feb 9, 2019 at 12:15
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    Interesting. Most of the conversations I've had with police officers who were sent to police the strike centred around the fact that they weren't properly trained to deal with the levels of violence they were facing, & that they were usually standing next to officers from elsewhere in the country who had even less training! (I've also heard that they often had to restrain those officers when their 'blood was up'). Of course, it may make sense that police who had to rebuild relations with local communities after the strike would blame 'outsiders', and the Met would be an easy target for that. Feb 9, 2019 at 12:42

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