Diarmaid Kelliher is a PhD student in Geography at the University of Glasgow, researching support groups in London during the 1984–5 British miners’ strike. Most of the work for this article was undertaken while studying for an MA in Contemporary History and Politics at Birkbeck College, and working in the Information Service at the Trades Union Congress.
During the British miners’ strike of 1984–5 a large network of support groups was established throughout the UK and internationally, primarily to provide financial support. This article looks at the history of one group within this diverse social movement: London Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, which collected funds primarily for the Dulais mining community in South Wales. In the words of one member, the group attempted to bring ‘socialism onto the agenda of sexual politics in the London lesbian and gay community [… and] sexual politics onto the agenda of trade union politics’. This article looks both at the practical ways in which LGSM attempted to do this, and at how the concepts of class, community and oppression were employed to explain this alliance. It places the group in the context of longer-term developments within the British left, arguing that LGSM both reflected and contributed to a weakening of the central position of class, and an increasing openness to a more diverse politics, within the ideology of the left in the 1980s. It argues for the potentially transformative effect of solidarity, and for the importance of small-scale histories in understanding such processes.