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on 4 February 2012
This is a very well put together film documentary. It shows what was happening throughout the 84/85 miners' strike to the ordinary miner, and tells how it was for them. Their experiences at the time are recounted 25 years on with, I think, a commendable frankness. It is obvious to me, that this is a far more accurate account than the one offered up by the media, either at the time or since, indeed Being how important an event it was, there seems little mention of it. This DVD is then a welcome look back at the events that, left our people scarred, and set the wheels of decline firmly in motion. That decline has continued and seems to me, to be virtually unstoppable now. All for what? To prove a point? To avenge Ted Heath? To teach the working man a lesson? Who knows? We are a Trillion pounds in debt though, we do know that, we know that for sure. Happy days.
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on 17 March 2013
lly enjoyed this dvd, and it certainly is an eye-opener as to the truth of the strike from the miners point of views, and I would recommend it to anyone who as an interest.
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on 18 April 2013
this dvd is a very timely reminder of why I supported the Miners strike, given Thatcher's death last week. historically very important.
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on 12 April 2010
I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of this documentary in Chesterfield in March 2010, where it was watched by a large audience of mostly ex-miners and other activists from the 1984 strike. I enjoyed it immensely, and the audience went wild for it.

The film tells the tale of the strike from the miners' perspective. It's made up of new interviews with some of the key players, including Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, and various strikers and female activists. Woven together to tell the complete story (albeit from an unashamedly partisan viewpoint - which I found quite refreshing), the accounts are direct, enlightening and often funny.

There's also a great original theme song by local musician Steve Colbourne.

I'm no expert on the Dole Not Coal's topic - in fact I knew almost nothing about the strike before I watched it. But I would imagine this is a must-watch for people who were involved in the 1984 strike, people with an interest in politics or industrial relations, or anyone who enjoys a well-told political tale.
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on 24 May 2010
History isn't usually very kind to those defeated in conflict and that was certainly the case with the miners and their leaders in the 84/85 strike.

It is therefore refreshing that Dole Not Coal is written unashamedly from the miners' perspective and many would say comes a lot closer to being a true historical record than the so called "balanced" reporting at the time or since.

Featuring actual footage from the strike (some of it not previously seen), interviews with protagonists on the miners' side, the admirable women's support groups and the reflections of key political figures, the film tells the story of the strike - how and why it started, how it was nearly won and how it was ultimately lost. It is a hard hitting but entertaining and often humorous depiction of a major event in British history.

If you sometimes despair at the way 21st Century Britain has turned out, then watch this film and it may give you an insight into how we got here.
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on 14 December 2010
This reviewer had a somewhat hazy recollection of the miners strike, due to being extremely busy at the time with the heady business of being a ten-year-old.

At an initial level, then, I found watching Coal Not Dole very informative, filling in the substantial gaps in my memory of that period.

As the film progressed, however, the chilling eyewitness accounts served to add another level of understanding: one of what life was actually like for all those involved. From the political perspective of Tony Benn, to the life of the strikers' wives: every angle is covered.

This documentary presents the extremely emotive subject matter with dignity and respect, while losing none of the intensity of the first-hand recollections.

Coal Not Dole left me with the strong feeling that our recollections should not be hazy - the miners' strike should be remembered.

Highly recommended.
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on 26 October 2010
Forget BBC and Channel 4 propaganda with their distortions and convenient omissions, this is the definitive account of the most important domestic event in the UK since World War Two.

Here you get the full story. From the moment Arthur Scargill acquired secret NCB (National Coal Board) documents outlining the pit closures (which the media dismissed, NCB and Government denied and many NUM leaders couldn't believe) to the bitter legacy and aftermath.

Thatcher was determined to destroy the NUM and with it the entire Labour movement for ideological reasons. They stood in the way of her revolution. Economic arguments for pit closures didn't stand up to scrutiny at the time and certainly now have been blown out the water (What's economic about relying on other countries for our energy and paying much more for it when we have a 100 years worth of coal under our feet?).

After the victorious strikes of 1972 and 1974 the latter of which brought the Tory Government down in an election the Tories had been busy preparing for a showdown. The `Ridley report' was commissioned outlining a strategy to take on the militant sections of the workers. The preparations outlined were; stockpiling of coal, coal supplies arranged via non union foreign ports, non union scab lorry drivers recruited, money cut off from strikers, a mobile police force organised to defeat pickets, the Government to choose who and when to fight, industries grouped together on an assessment of how easy they might be to beat. Ian MacGregor who had already destroyed the steel industry was brought in to British coal.

Thatcher wanted to prove she could deal with the unions who she blamed for all the country's problems. But this was more than just revenge for past humiliations. It was about cowing the workers and altering the balance of forces into the ruling class's favour. Thatcher believed Britain could be made great on the backs of an increasingly exploited working class with wages and conditions of work driven down.

The establishment want you to believe that the destruction of the mining industry was all Arthur Scargill's fault. They say the mines were uneconomical and that he was unreasonable and refused to negotiate. In fact the NUM settled the strike on five separate occasions in 1984: on 8 June, 8 July, 18 July, 10 September and 12 October. The first four settlements were withdrawn or sabotaged following the intervention of the real unreasonable and intransigent thug in all this: Margaret Thatcher.

The safety men of the pits organised under the NACODS union had voted 82% in favour of strike action if the terms of the 12th October settlement were not accepted. At the point of settlement NACODS called off their strike due to the NCB and the Government promising a modified colliery review procedure. Thatcher immediately withdrew the Government's decision to settle. Unsurprisingly the Government reneged on the review procedure. 164 pits were closed and 160,000 jobs were lost. Had NACODS went through with the strike they would have carried the day and the miners would have won.

This was a deliberate attack on working people trying to defend jobs and communities by a determined and sinister Government hell bent on destroying them using all the organs of state to do so. MI5 and a national police force were deployed against the miners. Freedom of movement was stopped and freedom of speech curtailed. This was conscious destruction of men, women and their homes and children's futures. Lives were ruined, families destroyed, children's futures wasted, communities ripped apart and drug abuse became endemic in pit villages.

Time's glory is to unmask falsehood and bring truth to light. The NUM were absolutely correct and have been vindicated by history in all their arguments. Thatcher, her ministers, Ian MacGregor and co lied repeatedly. The media mislead the public; the BBC reversed footage showing miners throwing stones at police and the police charging when in fact the police had charged first. The Mirror and ITV slandered Scargill with a series of false corruption allegations which the rest of the media got on board with and towed the line for over a year. Police officers were caught on tape lying and contradicting them selves. This is all proven in court cases which were not widely reported given the NUM won them. The establishment version of the story often does not stand up to scrutiny even on the official record! The courts were biased against the NUM (they carried through false accusations of misuse of union funds and acted politically to victimise miners and prevent miners taking action) yet even they could not validate these falsehoods. When Arthur Scargill warned of the existence of a secret hit list marking more than 70 pits for closure Thatcher and the coal board repeatedly lied denying its existence. Yet again the media took Thacthers side and it was Scargill who was branded a liar. Secret cabinet papers just released prove beyond doubt that yet again Scargill was telling the truth and Thatcher was lying. Surprise surprise.

All the smears distracted the public from Scargill's warning that the coal industry was being wrecked for ideological reasons. The NUM were the only cohesive political force that stood in the way of Thatcher's revolution. As journalist John Pilger has said "Not only was he proven right but the true source of crookedness was found amongst his accusers."

Thatcher called them the `enemy within' yet amongst their ranks were veterans of the Second World War. How insulting for them in particular. A story not told in the other documentaries or in the news concerns the behaviour of the Police. They would wave their over time cash in the faces of picketers and reportedly threw money in their collection buckets asking to keep the strike going because "it's paying my mortgage". Add on top of that the brutal beatings they dished out to miners hospitalising and seriously hurting some. The wanton charging at miners on horseback swinging their trungeons and indiscriminately cracking skulls. As if this weren't enough they arrested miners on trumped up charges and police officers falsified statements to get them sent away. If you doubt this then watch Yvette Vanson's 'the battle for orgreave' on youtube for footage of shocking police violence and to hear the miners side of the story. More evidence is coming to light all the time and hopefully an inquiry will be held into this police corruption. For a woman who claimed she was on the side of law and order against the mob, it certainly looks like it was the other way round.

The miners were betrayed by the Labour Party leadership, in particular by the reprehensible Neil Kinnock. When interviewed as on the BBC and Channel 4 strike documentaries he still brings up the national ballot to excuse his cowardly, self interested stance. No union rules were broken since miners were entitled to go on strike on an area by area basis at that time. Besides why should miners whose pits were threatened be constititutionalised out of action simply because naive miners in other areas such as Nottingham believed their jobs were safe (they were lied to by the NCB and Government) and would inevitably vote not to go out on strike? But he's done all right for himself hasn't he? Multi millionaire `Lord' Kinnock.

The lies and distortions about the strike continue to this day making this documentary an absolutely vital antidote to such state propaganda. It gives a voice to the too often marginalised strikers. The documentary is very well executed and produced. The flow of the story, the interviews and footage are all blended in an emotionally engaging and insightful way as one would expect from a good quality documentary. I'm an avid documentary watcher this is easily one of my favourites.

If you want to understand this pivotal moment in British history this documentary is essential, alongside Seumas Milne's book `The Enemy Within'.
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on 24 January 2011
After just watching this incredible documentary, with excellent footage and views from MP's and ex miners, it has opened my eyes to what the miners strike was really about and how they coped during difficult times.
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on 9 November 2012
If you were a miner and you decided you DIDNT want to go on strike (and there were plenty) then this will wind you right up. Only people that will buy it are those who have a particular recollection of events
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