Quantitative Easing and the Miners’ Strike


This cartoon was copied from http://hackcartoonsdiary.com/

“In very simple layman’s terms, the central bank creates new money out of thin air. It then uses this money to buy what is essentially an IOU, usually from the government. This money is credited to the bank account of the seller of the IOU. The bank can then use this money as a basis for creating more new money by increased lending.”


The term “quantitative easing” has such a wonderful ring to it. It sounds like something that Monty Python might have made up.

The day on which the British Government decided to flood the country with Monopoly money (aka QE) was also the 25th anniversary of the start of the miners’ strike. Political activist and musician Billy Bragg blogged about both events in today’s Guardian. I quote:

“There is a bitter irony in the fact that the Bank of England chose the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the miners’ strike to fire off it’s weapon of last resort in an attempt to damp down the conflagration currently sweeping through global capitalism. The wry smile that passes across the lips of those who opposed the naked selfishness at the heart of the Thatcherite experiment will be mirrored by the disconcerted frowns of those who, having wholeheartedly embraced the free market, never thought that it would lead to this. Like Frankenstein’s monster, Thatcherism has turned on its creators.

Is there anybody out there willing to stand up – on this, of all days – and raise a toast to the wilful destruction of our manufacturing industry and its replacement by the financial services sector? Yes, there were unions who were resistant to change, but whoever came up with the idea that the solution to this problem was to import cars rather than make them ourselves sacrificed more than just the entire engineering skills base.

The forces that Margaret Thatcher unleashed in order to defeat the NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] destroyed whole communities before leeching into our society. Untamed by successive governments, these same forces now threaten to devour us all.

The housing bubble that has been source of so many of our recent difficulties, was kickstarted by Thatcher. Selling off council houses to their owners was a popular idea at the time, but by refusing to allow councils to build more stock, it ultimately forced up prices as demand rose. When the Tories slashed the state pension and people started looking around for a way of ensuring financial security in their old age, bricks and mortar seemed like a sound investment.

Without powerful unions to protect them, the wages of ordinary workers were held in check while the cost of housing began to spiral upwards. As it became increasingly difficult for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder, a newly deregulated banking sector began offering ever more “attractive” loans. And we all know where that led.

Would any of this have been different if Thatcher had lost that titanic struggle in 1984?

She would have still been in power for another three years, but she would not have tasted blood. A chastened Conservative party might have realised sooner, rather than later, that the ultimate price of Thatcherism would be the brutalisation of society.”

Mr Bragg has his detractors but he gets my vote. Britain back then had serious economic and social problems. Instead of solving them, Thatcherism had a snowball effect that has left the country staring into the abyss.

miners strike

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6 Responses to Quantitative Easing and the Miners’ Strike

  1. Carol McGuigan says:

    Well said. I watched Ken Loach last night on Newsnight getting bitterly disgusted with Nigel Lawson with whom he had to share a couch. Lawson spouted patronising platitudes looking like an 18th century lord of the manor, even without the powdered wig. This country was riven in two in 85 and we’re still reaping the consequences. Still, the miners may has lost the strike, the pits and their communities, but the perspective that fuelled their fight has finally won the argument. I hope that at least one of the TV channels is planning a proper drama or documentary about the strike, or maybe they’ll just continue to represent working class people as either jokes or villians.

  2. thebarrowboy says:

    Hi, Carol. I did wonder if Ken Loach himself might attempt a film. Young people in Britain need to understand how the country arrived at where it is today.

  3. Carol McGuigan says:

    I agree and I hope that happens. I think it would be viewed from a newly betrayed perspective in the current circumstances.

  4. matt says:

    Hello Mr Barrowboy,
    Thank you for kindly linking back to me when you used a copy of my drawing.
    Matt Buck Hack Cartoons

  5. Loren says:

    I’m a little confused. I am researching Margaret Thatcher and studying the play “The Road by Jim Cartwright” Is it that she tried to stop the Unions so that she can implement what she wanted for her country and what she thought was right for her country and that was to abolish the unions to reconstruct the financial problems in the UK. Didn’t this only make things worse?
    Please help!

  6. thebarrowboy says:

    Hi, Loren. I’m sending a message to your email address with my comments.

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