Mike Elliott – The Miner’s Friend

Mike Elliott

It was sad to hear of the passing of Mike Elliott on December 23rd, 2014. The obituaries mourned the loss of a radio presenter, actor and funny man. Mike also claimed to have got the word ‘makem‘ into the dictionary.

Mike appeared as George Watson the boxing trainer in Billy Elliot, one of the few films to give a sympathetic portrayal of the 1984-85 Great Miner’s strike.

As a Young Socialist and Militant I remember Mike’s strong support for the miners and his appearances at support events and concerts.

Mike sang the song The Miner’s Friend on the album “Which Side are you on? Music for the Miners, from the North East.” The track gives a contemporary flavour of what we thought about the police during the strike to say the least!

I was witness to Mike’s commitment to the Miners and the working class cause at the 1985 LP conference. The Miners had been forced back to work and had suffered the full force of the law and state oppression. Unfortunately most of the trade union leaders had played a despicable role during the strike and refused to make official the massive rank and file support there was for the miners thus grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ramsay McKinnock made two disgraceful speeches at the 1985 conference. Firstly he stuck the knife into the Liverpool City Council and Militant who had dared to stand up to Thatcher by building housing, creating jobs and opposing the cuts.

Secondly, he refused to support an amnesty for the hundreds of sacked and arrested miners. He made a petty personal attack on Arthur Scargill at conference.

Mike was at the conference collecting for the sacked miners. After Kinnock’s speech I was standing with Mike as he was shaking his bucket. He was having a right go at Kinnock and the right wing for not backing the miners as some be-suited union leaders walked by. One of them,  who later became a leader of the GMB (the one who looked like Blakey from the On the Buses! Older readers will know who) chucked a few pence into the bucket.

Mike took the money and went after him. He told him straight ‘we don’t want your Judas money!’ as he threw it back at him. Donating a few pence could not make up for the betrayal of the right wing trade union leaders.

Mike Elliott – The Miner’s Friend – Rest in Power!

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