David Bell

writer and lecturer

THE DIRTY THIRTY: HEROES OF THE MINERS' STRIKE
published by Five Leaves    7.99

"The story of the 1984-5 miners' strike will be remembered in Labour history along with the Levellers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and all those who have fought for workers' rights.  The so-called Dirty Thirty were immensely courageous Leicestershire miners who stood up for their beliefs in solidarity with the NUM against those who were planning to give way.  For these reasons, David Bell's book is of the greatest importance."
Tony Benn

"This book does not have a narrow political agenda.  What comes over is the authentic, observant, often humorous, voice of the strikers themselves.  Excellent social history, this is also an organising manual for future activists."
Mike Phipps - Labour briefing

"The positive response to strike action of miners in the vast majority of areas during the 1984-5 Great Strike has been well-documented.  But what was it like for loyal National Union of Mineworkers members in those coalfields where greed and self-interest corroded traditional miners' soldarity?  How did the thirty striking miners, out of over two thousand, get on in Leicestershire?  David Bell decided to find out, tracking down and interviewing many of the so-called Dirty Thirty, a name originally given to them by the scabs and reclaimed by the strikers.  His role in recording the efforts of these justifiably described working class heroes is worthy of great praise."
John Haylett - The Morning Star

"This book, published to mark the 25th anniversary of the Miners' Strike, tells one of the little-known stories of the year-long struggle.  Just thirty men out of the 2,500 working in the Leicestershire coalfield joined the strike.  They became known as the Dirty Thirty as they travelled the world raising solidarity for the strike.  Local historian David Bell interviewed many of the members of the Dirty Thirty and the women's support group about their experiences.  This allows them to speak for themselves about their inspiring struggle.  It is the major strength of this book."
Socialist Worker

Illustrated with period photos and ephemera, this inspirational account draws on the experiences of all involved, examining their motivations and offering insight into their tenacity in the face of adversity.  The Dirty Thirty is a deeply poignant tale of the human impact wreaked by a regime hell bent on removing all obstacles in its path..  A powerful testament to the power of mutual aid, the closing section confirms how the thirty's tireless campaigning came to acquire them hero status among the 170,000 strikers across the country.  This book is a story of how the courage, humour and unbreakable spirit of the miners, their families and the support groups shone through against all odds."
Direct Action

"The Dirty Thirty is the story of thirty brave men and their wives who stood out, alone and isolated, in an area with a devastating attack of "leprosy."  Whilst those of us in the solid striking areas revelled in the mass militancy and made the few lone scabs social outcasts, in Leicester the situation was entirely reversed.  The strikers were treated treated as scabs and were threatened, attacked, their wives and chilkdren intimidated, given the icy shoulder of hostility in the communities they were striving to defend.  The strikers had in the teeth of isolation to build everything themselves: pickets, support networks and food distribution.  The book tells the blow-by-blow story of the men, and how they came to make their stand, and eventually link up into a small but vibrant campaign.  This is a splendid, moving book and a fitting tribute to the Leicester strikers and their families - doubtless their kids and their kids' kids will treasure it for the rest of their lives.  The dads and mams were working class heroes indeed."
Dave Douglass - Weekly Worker

A work like this is long overdue and although it is easy to say that it misses this or that out, it captures the events and the spirit of a time that is still very much alive in my own memory. This includes the magnificent support that the Thirty were given by the NUR (now RMT) and ASLEF members at the Coalville Mantle Lane depot, many of whom refused to let coal trains move during the dispute.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about the history of Thatcher's Britain and its legacy, so warmly embraced by the suits of New Labour.                                                                                Tony Church - Socialist Party