“The most bitter industrial dispute in British history,” according to the BBC, concerned the action taken by British miners from 1984 to 1985. “The Conservative government was unwilling in the long term to prop up what it saw as a failing industry … and … announced the closure of 20 uneconomic pits and the subsequent loss of 20,000 jobs. Miners at the endangered Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire walked out on 5 March 1984 in protest at the plans. Within a week more than half the country’s miners were on strike. The action started relatively peacefully, but the stakes were high in a dispute that had thousands of men fighting for their jobs pitted against a government desperate to keep coal supplies flowing.” With the strike lasting a year, the miners and their families suffered considerable hardship.
Soul Deep was a charity single organized by The Style Council in aid of one of the movements supporting the affected families, Women Against Pit Closures. Funds were to be raised through The Council Collective – as the charity ensemble was called – waiving their recording and publishing royalties. So that the money could be received by miners’ families before Christmas, a special deal was agreed with Polydor whereby they would donate to the charity in advance of the release and then recoup the amount from the royalties when these started to come in in the new year. However, just before it was due to appear in the shops, an incident caused Paul Weller to reconsider its release.
On 30 November 1984, taxi driver David Wilkie was taking a miner to work when strikers dropped a concrete block on to his vehicle. He was killed immediately. The music press suggested that a shocked and appalled Weller might cancel the release altogether, but in the end it was only delayed. During that delay, the beneficiaries were altered. Melody Maker published the following clarification: “The aim of this record was to raise money for the striking miners and their families before Christmas, but obviously, in light of the tragic and disgusting event of last week, we will also give some of the money to widow of the man killed in Wales,” Weller said. “We do support the miners’ strike but we do not support violence. Things like that help no one and create further division among people. The whole record is about solidarity or, more to the point, getting it back! If the miners lose the strike the consequences will be felt by all the working classes which is why it is so important. But this sort of violence will only lead to deceit as all violence does.” This comment was paraphrased on the back of the single’s sleeve.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 14
The CULT (Ian Astbury) Resurrection Joe (Beggars Banquet BEG22)
The COUNCIL COLLECTIVE (The Style Council) Soul Deep (Polydor MINE1)
IMAGINATION (Leee John) Instinctual (RCA PB41697)