Battles on the Streets



‘I took part in a magnificent rally today… It was an exhilarating experience… A catalyst has been at work in the past few days and has overwhelmed us all. We did not appreciate the extent to which the closures had got up the nose of many Tories… We have all been swamped with letters from our constituents’ (Hansard, 21 October 1992). The speaker was the Labour MP Denis Skinner, and the rally he was describing to the House of Commons was the mass protest concerning the government’s announcement of its intention to close 31 coal mines, the issue discussed towards the end of the previous chapter. In a widely reported speech he had told the protesters the battle would not be won in Parliament, but ‘We will win it on the streets.’ Although Skinner is considered by many to be a political eccentric, a maverick figure of the Labour left-wing, his views do express an important line of radical direct-action thought, which has become increasingly prominent since the 1950s.


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Chapter 4 Battles on the Streets

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© Brian Spittles 1995

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