Defeat with honor.
After a year of hardship and determination, the British miners voted to end their strike on March 3, even though they had no agreement with the National Coal Board about pit closures and no promise of amnesty for the 700 miners fired during the strike. Some union officials have called for a guerrilla campaign against the Coal Board, and miners at a few pits have decided to stay out until the sacked men are rehired. But there are no immediate gains to soften the defeat.
The miners are the militant backbone of the British labor movement, and the strike was widely regarded as the great last battle between Thatcherism and the working class. Anticipated and prepared for by the government, it became a national symbol of resistance, drawing support from unexpected quarters. There will inevitably be acrimony and recriminations in mining communities and the trade union movement and against the Labor Party leadership, whose support for the strike was lukewarm at best. But the miners' decision to end the strike collectively rather than allow the trickle of workers back to the pits further to erode the union made tactical sense. Most important, the strength, coalitions and organizing skills developed during the long winter will be a valuable legacy.
If there is any hope to be found in the strike's conclusion, it is that the absence of a settlement will reflect badly on Margaret Thatcher. She has proved once again that her policies can only sharpen divisions, not heal them. The end of the strike brings no catharsis or national reconciliation; the miners have been starved back to work, but they have held their moral ground. Opinion polls suggest that Thatcher's popularity is finally waning. The defeat of the "enemy within" may leave the Prime Minister more starkly exposed against the bleak backgroun of her economic policies. Has Radio Liberty become a mouthpiece for ultranationalist Soviet emigres? Congress is beginning to wonder. I n 1982 the Reagan Administration appointed George Bailey, a close associate of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, to direct the U.S. government-financed station. To promote "cretivity" among emigre broadcasters Bailey repealed the station's strick guidelines on script content and fired several American program managers supervising the work of broadcast editors. He also brought in a group of Soviet emigres who share Solzhenitsyn's extreme views.
The station's strident line eventually came to the attention of Claiborne Pell, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who urged the General Accounting Office to investigate. Its report is due later this month; the committee will then hold hearings on the matter.
Not all Soviet dissident in the West approve of Solzhenitsyn's polemics, as the following article demonstrates.
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|Title Annotation:||British coal miners end strike|
|Date:||Mar 16, 1985|
|Next Article:||Solzhenitsyn speaks: undoing the West in the Soviet Union.|