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The Enemy Within

THE ENEMY WITHIN provides unique insight into one of the most dramatic events in British history: the 1984-85 Miners' Strike. No experts. No politicians. Thirty years on, this is the raw first-hand experience of those who lived through Britain's longest strike. Follow the highs and lows of that life-changing year.

In 1984, a Conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared war on Britain's unions, taking on the strongest in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers. Following a secret plan, the government began announcing the closure of coal mines, threatening not just an industry but whole communities and a way of life.
Against all the forces the government could throw at them, 160,000 coal miners took up the fight. THE ENEMY WITHIN tells the story of a group of miners and supporters who were on the frontline of that strike for an entire year. These were people that Margaret Thatcher labelled 'the enemy within'.

Using interviews and a wealth of rare and never before seen archival footage, THE ENEMY WITHIN draws together personal experiences - whether they're tragic, funny or terrifying - to take the audience on an emotionally powerful journey through the dramatic events of that year.

Contains strong language.

The feature film PRIDE is based on the LGBT community's participation in the strike.

'Gripping, timely...The miner narrators take us into the fierce heat of the battle and remind us the struggle for good jobs, livable communities, and dignity for all is far from over. This is an inspiring, beautifully-rendered film of resistance that reveals how today's economic and political crises came to be.' Dorothy Sue Cobble, Distinguished Professor of History and Labor Studies, Rutgers University

'A sympathetic and insightful portrait of one of the most important strikes in recent history...Highly recommended.' P. Hall, Video Librarian

'Moving and powerful, this movie shows how manipulative political power can be but also how passionate and irresistible the struggle for justice is. It redresses history and proves the neo-liberals are the enemies of democracy.' Nadia Urbinati, Professor of Political Theory, Columbia University

'A compelling testament to the power of solidarity...Feminist, LGBT, and Black Power organizations all had a hand in gathering money and supplies...The Enemy Within is not only a compelling account of social struggle, and the methods the miners employed to carry on, but it also serves as an inspiration towards another way of thinking about and conceiving politics.' Riad Azar, Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture

'By listening to the stories of these miners, our lives and our work can improve...This film could provoke interesting classroom conversations about the power of the people, appropriate power of the state, and the rights given to corporations. Students and community groups can also learn much from this film about tactics for nonviolent activism and its costs and rewards.' Whole Terrain Journal

'Vital and valuable...Students and community activists alike can only benefit from revisiting this prolonged clash between a trade union committed to social justice and a government prepared to use excessive force to permanently weaken the voice of labor. The unfinished agenda left to us by those battling miners is one that deserves to be renewed and pursued by a new generation of progressive activists. The Enemy Within can be an effective trigger to that renewal.' David Coates, Professor and Chair, Anglo-American Studies, Wake Forest University, Author, Prolonged Labour: The Slow Birth of New Labour Britain

'I can't express enough my admiration for Owen Gower's remarkable film. It moved and inspired me. Everyone - not only in Britain - should see this superb film.' John Pilger, Journalist and Filmmaker

'Help[s] us understand the bleak conditions that we face today...If you want to understand how we ended up with the austerity regime that prevails in all industrial countries in the West and in Japan, there are a number of strikes whose outcome would determine economic conditions for decades to come.' Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

'Highly recommended, especially for public and college library and DVD shelves.' The Midwest Book Review

'Finally, a documentary as sweeping and dramatic as the momentous strike it chronicles. Narrated by the rank-and-file miners, wives, and supporters who waged it, replete with vivid historical footage, and informed by recently uncovered documentary evidence, this film recounts a turning point defeat for trade unionism that helped usher an era of growing inequality not only in Great Britain but across the West. The struggle between Margaret Thatcher and the miners resonates down to the present day.' Joseph McCartin, Professor of History, Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University

'Interweaving personal stories with archival clips and reenactment footage, the film follows the miners as they walk off the job...Interesting for providing firsthand accounts of the historic strike, the film highlights the price union members paid for standing up for their beliefs and ideals.' Candace Smith, Booklist

'[The film] presents this lived experience economically and with great force, focused intently on faces and voices of men and women as they channel a wide range of decades-old emotions. They exalt in their erstwhile power, reveal sharp personal disappointment at the absence of support from other unions or the Labour Party, and cry as they recall defeat. Particularly memorable is the unanimous conviction that the strike really had stakes and really could have been won.' Tim Barker, Dissent Magazine

'A raw and moving portrait of the dispute...showing events from the perspective of those who manned the picket lines.' Jonathan Wright, BBC History Magazine's DVDs of the Year

'A powerful story...Seeing the brutal tactics deployed by the government and how the police and media went along with these crimes shocks the viewer. But the response of the miners will empower anyone who watches the film for the hope of a better future.' Dr. Eric Loomis, Assistant Professor of History, University of Rhode Island

'This film is important because if we forget what happened during the miners' strike then we are weakening ourselves and disarming ourselves for the future. Let's analyze what happened...Let's make sure we build a strong trade union and labour movement that can prevent another Margaret Thatcher.' Jeremy Corbyn, newly elected Leader of the Labour Party, Member of Parliament for Islington North

'A documentary as gripping as any thriller. Thirty years on, the strike looks like a civil war that turned into a siege, during which the insurgents were starved into submission...The Conservative government planned nothing less than the emasculation of union power by abolishing the domestic coal industry, and was quite uninterested in what all those irredeemable non-Tory voters were supposed to do for a living afterwards...Gower's film is a heartfelt tribute to the communities who were hammered by political, not economic, forces. They look bloodied, but unbowed.' Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

'Too few Americans know the story of the 1984-85 British miners' strike; The Enemy Within tells it beautifully. Drawing on colorful archival footage and lively interviews, this is an important and entertaining film, with lessons about labor, politics, and the importance of solidarity that echo with relevance today.' Erik Linstrum, Assistant Professor of History, University of Virginia, Author, Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire

'An eloquent and passionate oral history about what it felt like to be on the losing side, but the side of the angels, during one of the most significant turning points in modern British social, economic and political history.' The Independent

'Historically, the collective strength of coal miners was one of the engines of 20th century democracy, essential to the British labor movement's influence...Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government understood this and decided to break the union. They succeeded ruthlessly...Three decades later, The Enemy Within tells this story vividly and movingly, as men and women from the mining communities recall their involvement against footage and photographs from the time.' Geoff Eley, Professor of Contemporary History, University of Michigan

'Tells the story...with the most impressive set of archive footage ever assembled...[T]he idea that the police could stage a mass violation of civil liberties, subjecting tens of thousands of people to arbitrary detentions and the military occupation of their villages - most of it barely reported by the mainstream media - will seem weird to young audiences now. If the miners had possessed smartphones, Twitter and the Human Rights Act - let alone Al-Jazeera and Russia Today - the outcome might have been different.' Paul Mason, The Guardian

'Lovingly made, beautifully shot and wonderfully soundtracked - this is timely, important and truthful cinema, at once bitter, nostalgic and unexpectedly uplifting.' Tom Huddlestone, Time Out

'Heartbreaking. Infuriating. Necessary. The Enemy Within offers a people's history of one of the defining events in modern British history. It should find a place in any course that covers the late-twentieth century.' Guy Ortolano, Associate Professor of History, New York University, Author, The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain

'There has been no other piece of work so far that has made this conflict feel so alive and, most crucially, relevant to our own day and age.' Gary Green, Quietus

'The complex and violent drama of the miner's strike is captured in this brilliantly calibrated British documentary...This is a well-honed people's history with little in the way of dramatization...And those who care anything for contemporary struggles can find themes that recur today across the world. In the ashes of the pits - which all disappeared within ten years of the strike - remains a little anti-establishment fire and legible notes on how to take on an adversary ten times your size.' Sophie Monks Kaufman, Little White Lies

'Brilliantly done and deadly serious, yet not without humor.' Jason Solomon, Daily Mail

'Eye-opening, often moving, sometimes funny, frequently shocking...A sober and surprisingly affirming film about then, and now.' New Internationalist

'The mainstream media didn't tell the truth about the miners' strike when it happened. And the same lies are still being told. It's therefore important that we tell this story.' Ken Loach, Filmmaker

'A superb film...For educators and general audiences, the film powerfully illustrates how an inspiring solidarity-'something to behold'-staved off ascendant capital to remind us that 'the future is still up for grabs.'' Laurie Mercier, Professor of History, Washington State University, Co-author, Mining Women: Gender in the Development of a Global Industry


Main credits

Gower, Owen (film director)
Gower, Owen (film producer)
Kirwan, Sinead (film producer)
Lacey, Mark (film producer)
Hird, Christopher (film producer)
Simons, Mike (film producer)
Lavington, Amelia (producer)
Wilkinson, Gerard (producer)
Hadley, Malcolm (director of photography)
Edmunds, Paul (editor of moving image work)

Other credits

Executive producers, Christopher Hird and Mike Simons; edit producer, Amelia Lavington; archive producer, Gerard Wilkinson; director of photography, Malcolm Hadley; Editor, Paul Edmunds.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Business Practices
European Studies
Human Rights
Labor and Work Issues
Political Science
Social Justice
Women's Studies


British miners' strike, Margaret Thatcher, war on the unions, Britain longest strike, England, Conservative government, National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill, Ridley Plan, Ian MacGregor, National Coal Board, NACODS, picketing, Yorkshire, Nottingham, David Jones death, Ollerton, Battle of Orgreave, police brutality, South Yorkshire police, South Wales, Trades Union Congress, women's contribution, gay activists, movie Pride; "The Enemy Within"; Bullfrog Films,doc; history; sociss