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The Enemy within: Thatcher's Secret War Against the Miners [Paperback]

Seumas Milne
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 April 2004
Margaret Thatcher branded Arthur Scargill and the other leaders of the 1984-5 miners' strike ;'the enemy within'. With the publication of this bestselling book a decade later, the full irony of that accusation became clear. There was an enemy within. But it was not the National Union of Mineworkers that was out to subvert liberty. It was the secret services of the British state - operating inside the NUM itself. Seumas Milne revealed for the first time the astonishing lengths to which the government and its intelligence machine were prepared to go to destry the power of Britain's miners' union. Using phoney bank deposits, staged cash drops, forged documents, agents provocateurs and unrelenting surveillance, MI5 and police Special Branch set out to discredit Scargill and other miners' leaders. Planted tales of corruption were seized on by the media and both Tory and Labour politicians in what became an unprecedentedly savage smear campaign. In this new edition, published for the twentieth anniversary of Britain's most important postwar social confrontation, new material brings the story up to date - and, in the wake of the Iraq war intelligence scandals, highlights the continuing threat posed by the security services to democracy today.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; New edition edition (13 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844675084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844675081
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.1 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A real-life thriller." - Evening Standard "One of the most remarkable demolition jobs ever." - Spectator "A tribute to detailed journalistic investigation ... strips away the myths and lies." - New Statesman "An astonishing book." - The Nation "Riveting. It knocks spots off the usual 'whodunnit'" - Guardian

About the Author

Seumas Milne is the Comment Editor and a columnist for the Guardian. He was previously the Guardian's Labour Editor and a staff journalist on The Economist. He is a joint winner of the "What the Papers Say" scoop of the year award and co-author of Beyond the Casino Economy.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Coal War 11 Mar 2010
By S Wood
Seamus Milnes book takes as it's starting point the 1990 Daily Mirror/Cook Report "scoop" regarding Arthur Scargill and his National Union of Mineworkers associate Peter Heathfield. They were accused of embezzling monies to pay off their mortgages from donations made by Libyan Trade Unionists during the 1984-85 Miners Strike. The story led to Scargill and Heathfield being subjected to a number of lawsuits from their own Trade Unions executive, as well as a variety of Government bodies, investigations by the Inland Revenue and the Serious Fraud Office and left Scargills reputation in tatters. After months of official investigations, it turned out that the accusations were entirely false: one didn't have a mortgage, the other had paid his off out of his savings. Not only that, but the one person who had been involved in fraud (not counting the then Daily Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell who enthusiastically supported the false claims) was the Daily Mirrors and the Cook Reports single source: Roger Windsor, the leading non-elected officer of the NUM through-out the Miners Strike of 1984-85. The information that Milne collated for this book strongly suggests that Roger Windsor was an informer, or agent, for the security services whose head of Trade Union espionage during the Miners Strike was Stella Rimmington, later to be the first female head of MI5.

Milne goes beyond debunking the smear campaign against Scargill and Heathfield to looking at a variety of other issues surrounding the Miners Strike. The activities of the Media, the Conservative Party, the right-wing of the Labour Party, MI5, a disparate bunch of right wing loons (not to be confused with MI5!
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75 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "real" enemy within. 30 Aug 2004
By A Customer
When newspapers pronounce the guilt of a high profile figure, they splash the story across the front-page. When it later transpires that the story is false, they may occasionally print a retraction or correction - but they usually "stick it inside somewhere" at the bottom of a page.
This excellent book provides a thorough account of the real truth behind the smear campaign of the early 1990's directed against the National Union of Miners and Arthur Scargill in particular. A campaign with one goal, but many players - the media, the Tory government and the security services - the objective of which was to follow through Margaret Thatcher's aim of ensuring the coal miners (and unions in general) would never again be in a position where they might hold the country to ransom, or bring down a government.
Seumas Milne's updated and exhaustive work exposes the truth, once and for all, about a campaign that ultimately failed because it was based on a foundation of lies and misinformation.
Milne only touches on the strike itself, and twenty years on there is a real need for a similarly exhaustive study of the 84-85 miners strike to accompany this book (hopefully written by an correspondingly impartial observer), so that students and historians can in the future, fully understand the lasting significance of these events.
The book itself in extremely well written and makes easy reading. If I have one criticism, it would be regarding Milne's explanation of the truth about the "Libyan money". The point is clearly made quite early on, but reiterated and re-explained too often afterwards.
Forget Michael Moore's rants about the corruption and lies in the US: read this book and discover some home truths about those that we entrust with our money, our lives and our security in this country.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth at last! 12 Oct 2008
By Aesop
Having grown up in a town in the heart of the Derbyshire coalfield, this book provided a fascinating insight into what really went on behind the Government orchestrated media campaign of the strike.

This book leaves us in no doubt that the powers that be are constantly at work in order to "protect us" from what they will tell us are threats, but really they are just removing what they perceive as a threat to their power. Shouldn't be such a surprise!

This book brings into sharp focus the main players in the campaign against the miners leaders and continues to engage the reader even when the events take complex turns. A fascinating read - well worth a look.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blistering reading 26 Jan 2008
I bought this revealing book primarily to improve my facts of an event which happened when I was about 10 years old. My only real memories of the stike were images on the TV of police and miners clashing at picket lines.

What this book reveals is that even the reports I watched on the TV were 'spliced' to show the miners attacking the police first.

This must read covers dodgy legal professionals, machiavellian MPs, even shadier journalists, moles, and the unaccountability of MI5 which makes worrying reading.

Whilst explaining the important events of the 'conflict' Milne's remarkable work leads us through a modern history lesson of the current pathetic state of British politics, the fact there is no real difference between New Labour and the Tories. Unfortunatley the miners strike helped many different organisations to exorcise the Right's nemesis, powerful trade unions and has taken away the mouthpiece of the working man and woman.

The style of writing is top class and facts are presented in an easily digestible fashion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars You are left in no doubt who the true enemy within is
This is a very interesting book that mainly seeks to address the manifold accusations thrown at Scargill and Peter Heathfield after the miners' strike. Read more
Published 17 hours ago by JKR
5.0 out of 5 stars The Enemy Within. The War Against the Miners 30th Anniversary...
A brilliant read! At last I could read some of the truth about the dreadful politically motivated strike. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Margot
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will show how the establishment can manipulate anything to...
Many people would be surprised by the content of this book, but not me. I remeber the lies that was told in order to keep the people of this country devided. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. K. M. Bracey
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital Story Everybody Should hear So Why the High Price?
Here's a mystery - a 500 page paperback - 10 years old.
Others retail for a few pence 12 months after their publication.
Why is this so expensive. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Bookworm
3.0 out of 5 stars Should we be surprised
Firstly any potential purchaser should be aware this isn't a book about the Miner's Strike - indeed the strike and the miners themselves hardly get a mention in. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bradford Tyke
5.0 out of 5 stars an antidote to the thatcher myths
Very detailed analysis of thatcher and her backers dealings with the unions in the 80's.I dont suppose much has changed over the years. Read more
Published 11 months ago by bucky
5.0 out of 5 stars Book called Thatcher's Secret War Against the Miners
Superb book, came on time for my husband's birthday, well packaged and at a very reasonable price, would recommend it to anyone
Published 11 months ago by Barbara davenport
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read....
Whether your a political person or not, this is a must read for an enquiring mind.If you lived through the 80's when events in the book where current or you of generation that... Read more
Published 12 months ago by SIMON JAMES
1.0 out of 5 stars Drivvle
An utterly blinkered and skewed version of events. What was the Thatcher government, or any other government supposed to do? Read more
Published 13 months ago by lance szary
5.0 out of 5 stars I have read many books on the strike...
and this is right up there with the best. Would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject.
Published 13 months ago by BeverleyC
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