Socialist Worker

The 1970s - when ordinary people put up a fight

Issue No. 2089

“It’s like going back to the 1970s,” says a BBC commentator discussing the Northern Rock nationalisation, to a backdrop of pictures of militant shop stewards, rubbish piling up in the streets and people wearing flared trousers.

The decade is presented as one in which union power held the country to ransom – and the lesson is that we should never go back to those “bad old days”.

But the 1970s were never simply about strike‑happy workers. It was a period in which British capitalists were determined that working class people would pay for the coming recession.

As the Labour government enforced wages cuts and unemployment rose into the millions, taking strike action was the best means of defending your pay and your job.

It was also a decade in which women workers fought for equal pay. Gays and lesbians came out of the closet and onto the streets. And black and white people united to fight the menace of the Nazi National Front.

The BBC is not merely distorting what happened thirty years ago. Its desired effect is to discourage people from once again using their collective power to challenge the system.


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What We Think
Tue 19 Feb 2008, 18:45 GMT
Issue No. 2089
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