From picket line to polling booth: what does class mean today?

It is two hundred years since the Peterloo massacre, when working people in Manchester were attacked and murdered by cavalry forces for daring to demand the right to vote, a key moment when the British working class entered the stage of history. But has the whole issue of class difference now had its day or is it making a comeback in a new form? It is also 35 years since the start of the year-long miners’ strike, a seismic political moment and arguably the last class-focused dispute of its kind in Britain. For many observers, its defeat signaled the end of class struggle in Britain.  In this compelling conversation, two activists discuss with Battle of Ideas Festival Co-convenor Ella Whelan what has changed and the meaning of class in 2019. Steve Roberts, who worked as a surface worker in the coal industry and was active during the miners’ strike, is now an ardent Brexiteer. He is joined by Brian Denny, an active RMT member who has never toed the line in his work with union politics.

This discussion was filmed by WORLDwrite-WORLDbytes volunteers at the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican in November 2019.