Coal Not Dole – It’s people that mater

I was born in 1984, just before the miner’s strike.  I was given my nan’s middle name – Margaret – by parents who were more Labour supporters than anything else.  I started school the year that the National Curriculum was introduced, something that many teachers disagreed with that was implemented by a Thatcher government.

I grew up listening to all sorts of music and folk is one genre that has stuck with me.  I love being able to listen to songs written by people to tell the tales or make comments about their everyday lives.  One song that stuck with me that I decided about 3 weeks ago that I would really like to learn properly and start singing out was ‘Cole not dole’ by Kay Sutcliffe.  It was written in response to the closures of pits in Kent and across the country.  I wanted to learn it because the voices of 30 years ago can still be heard echoing today and are being joined by more and more voices of dissent when people see that the current government is continuing the dismantling of the country that began during Thatcher’s government.  I don’t agree with the current government’s policies and wanted to add my voice to the crowd.

As Margaret Thatcher died today I imagine that this song will now be performed quite a lot over the next few months and year, so I think I’ll do more research and perhaps pick something with a similar sentiment from a couple of hundred years ago instead.

I was a baby and young child during her time as Prime Minister.  I do not agree with the choices she made and I do recognise that she did a lot of harm to many people in making those choices, but that is what she was elected to do.  I see an outpouring of jubilation at the news of her death.  I can understand that coming from those older than me who lived through it and who were personally affected by the government’s actions.  I will understand if there is a similar outpouring from those who are living through the current government’s cuts and privatisation.  I don’t understand so much why it is coming out from those younger than me.

I find it unsettling that there are so many people rejoicing that someone has died.  You may not agree with their politics – I certainly didn’t – but does that really mean that you need to be laughing about dancing on their grave?  An argument has been raised on Facebook about whether people should or should not celebrate in the streets when someone who is despised dies – Bin Laden, Kim Jong Il, Pinochet, amongst others have been cited as examples and no doubt someone will bring up the Hitler argument which means that no sensible line of discussion can be followed afterwards. But…

I did not like her, I did not like her politics.  Many of the decisions made by her and her cabinet have had resonances that have affected me, although admittedly to a lesser extent than other people, having not come from a mining community.  But…

It was sad enough to lose my father and grandmother and I didn’t have to deal with seeing it splashed across every tv channel, every newspaper, having political commentators analyse the reactions of the world’s media and social networking sites.

She had children, she had a family.  They will be grieving even if you are not.

It’s easy in these technological times to post an instant reaction without thinking about the affect it can have.  I have come across some very horrible comments from people on twitter that I will address at another time and when I have published this and other posts I do expect that there will be some negative responses.  But the UK is a democracy, there is freedom of speech.  And she was voted in for 18 years by UK voters as part of that democracy. Rightly or wrongly.

So I respect other people’s right to share their joy at the death of this woman.  But I will not be joining in with that.  I cannot change other people’s beliefs or opinions.  I wouldn’t want to.  But I can change my own and I don’t want to be jumping on a bandwagon of hate.  I have hated people in the past and it does me no good, but I can see how it could be cathartic for others.

I feel no joy at the news of her death, but I feel no great sadness either.  I feel sympathy for those who loved her and hope that they can find some sort fo peace amongst the media storm that surrounds them.  I also feel sympathy for those whose communities, livelihoods and lives were ruined 30 years ago and continute to feel the repurcussions of those times.

Instead of joining the hate, I will share with you a link that will allow you to donate to support those whose lives were forever altered by her actions if you chose to.

Instead of joining the celebrations I wil share with you a link to a video that for me sums up the legacy of her time as Prime Minister.

And I will also share with you the words of a woman whose community was directly affected by the actions of Thatcher’s government.  And I won’t be singing it because I don’t feel that my voice is fitting for it.  Perhaps in 20 years when we are dealing further with the fall out from this government…

Coal Not Dole (Sutcliffe)

It stands so proud, the wheels so still,
A ghost-like figure on the hill.
It seems so strange, there is no sound,
Now there are no men underground.

What will become of this pit-yard,
Where men once trampled faces hard?
Tired and weary, their work done,
Never having seen the sun.

Will it become like sacred ground?
Foreign tourists gazing round.
Asking if men once worked here,
Way beneath this pit-head gear.

Empty trucks once filled with coal,
Lined up like men on the dole.
Will they e’re be used again,
Or left for scrap just like the men?

There’ll always be a happy hour
For those with money, jobs and power.
They’ll never realise the hurt,
They cause to men they treat like dirt.

What will become of this pit-yard,
Where men once trampled faces hard?
Tired and weary, their work done,
Never having seen the sun.

There’ll always be a happy hour
For those with money, jobs and power.
They’ll never realise the hurt,
They do to them they treat like dirt.

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4 thoughts on “Coal Not Dole – It’s people that mater

  1. Well put Ellie, politics is apowerful thing, but your right, she had a family and where people do not respect her, maybe they should respect the families greif and leave them in peace.

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