Rhymny rebel led an inspiring life, says GWYN GRIFFITHS
A Miner’s Life
by Ray Davies
(RTD Publishers, £7.50)
In his preface to A Miner’s Life, Hywel Francis MP writes that Wales embraced the miners during the 1984-85 strike in a way that did not happen elsewhere. Ray Davies’s exhilarating and inspiring testimony to the struggle in the Rhymney Valley is proof of that.
Davies is one of life’s rebels. He left school at 14 and is an ex-collier and steel worker. He’s been to prison for not paying the poll tax, for his actions over human rights in Palestine and for direct non-violent action against war and nuclear weapons.
He has been a Labour councillor for 50 years and a trade union activist for longer but Labour Party leaders and trade union leaders often get the sharp tip of his pen.
He has no time for Neil Kinnock, who ignored the plight of the miners in 1984, and had a gutful of Kim Howells, then a researcher in the NUM. But he has warm words for Tony Benn, Clare Short and Robin Cook and is generous in his praise for political adversaries who backed the striking miners and their communities.
Davis knows what it is to be beaten and fitted up by police who arrested first and concocted reasons afterwards. Despite it all he stays cheerful, keeps faith and is the friend of the oppressed everywhere.
There are other notable contributors to the book, including Tim Richards, a law lecturer who was secretary of the Rhymney Valley Miners Support group and Pam Thomas, who writes memorably from the perspective of a miner’s wife.
All profits from the sale of the book go to the Coal Industry Welfare Organisation. A Miner’s Life can be obtained from 172 Pandy Road, Bedwas, Caerphilly CF85 8EP, price £7.50 + £1.40 p&p. Gwyn Griffiths