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October 21, 2008 / C H Thompson

lBilly Elliot

In pairs answer the following questions:

  • What is a trade union?
  • What is secondary picketing?
  • Who are the National Union of Mineworkers?
  • What is a SCAB (in political, not medical terms)?
  • Who was Arthur Scargill?


  1. In Billy Elliot, there were two distinct social classes the working and middle-classes. Which political party would you expect them to vote for and why?
  2. When Billy Elliot came down the stairs, you could hear a radio commentary talking about Thatcher calling the NUM the “enemy within”. How might a Marxist explain what Thatcher meant?
  3. Using Marxist social theory, what were the police a part of and what role did they play?
  4. Using neo-Marxist social theory, what role did the police have?
  5. Using neo-Marxist social theory what role did the media have? And what evidence did Stuart Hall come up with to support his point?
  6. Using the film find some evidence of for each of Lukes’ faces of power at work.
  7. When Billy Elliot came down the stairs, you could hear a radio commentary talking about Thatcher calling the NUM the “enemy within”. How might a neo-Marxist explain what was occurring?
  8. What type of power were the miners using when they were protesting? Why didn’t they have enough power to set the agenda on mine closures?
  9. What were the miners striking about? How was Thatcher’s government able to implement its policy to close non-productive mines? Why was their decision see as legitimate?


Leave a Comment
  1. Pippa Donnelly / Oct 22 2008 11:27 am

    Q 1-5
    -trade union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals in key areas such as wages, hours, and working conditions, forming a cartel of labor. For example, the trade union in Billy Elliot were the striking coal minors.
    -secondary picketing is where people picket locations that are not directly connected to the issue of protest. This would include retail stores that sell products by the company being picketed against, and the private homes of the company’s management. Secondary pickets often do not have the same civil law protection as primary pickets.
    -the national union of mineworkers aim to to organise all Mine, Construction and Energy workers,
    to protect, promote and advance the interests of our members.They are committed to turn your dream as a worker into reality, to unite, inspire and educate our members, to render effective and quality service to our members and to ensure that members actively participate in the union’s activities in determining the destiny of the union.
    -The term “scab” is a highly derogatory “fighting word” that refers to people who continue to work during strike action by trade unionists. For example, Billy’s dad continuing to work during the strike in order to get enough money for Billy to attend his dance auditions.
    -Arthur Scargill (born 11 January 1938) led the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from 1981 to 2000. He founded the Socialist Labour Party in 1996 and is currently the party’s leader. Scargill became a miner after leaving school, working at Woolley Colliery from 1953.


  1. UK Politics « Sociology at Twynham School

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