Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?

Album: Daddy, What did you do in the strike? (1984)


  • "Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?" is a typically nasty Ewan MacColl composition. Written in 2/4 time, it is copyright 1984 by Ewan MacColl Ltd. According to The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook: Sixty Years Of Songmaking, "This song, which has since been adapted for other strikes in other industries, was written for the miners' strike that ran from March 1984 to February 1985."

    It was indeed, and dovetails with the enigmatic John Lees composition "The Great 1974 Mining Disaster," although unlike the Lees song, it is totally lacking in humor. In 1974, the protagonists were Prime Minister Edward Heath and National Union of Miners leader Joe Gormley. By the time of this later strike, Edward Heath had been replaced as leader of the Conservatives by Margaret Thatcher, who steered the Party back to power becoming Britain's first woman Prime Minister. In March 1982, the moderate Gormley was succeeded by Arthur Scargill, who was anything but moderate, and who steered the NUM on a course to self-destruction, his protagonist though was not the new Conservative Prime Minister but Ian McGregor, who had courted controversy during his tenure as head honcho of the British Steel Corporation. Under his control the nationalised company had shed more than half its staff, an ill-omen for the coal industry.

    While the miners had effectively brought down the Heath Government, there was no escaping the new realism a decade on, and by the time the coal industry was privatized in 1994, it had lost over 90% of its collieries.

    Although the Government (and realism) won the day, this dispute was even more bitter and socially divisive than the previous one, the nadir was probably when a taxi driver who was driving a non-striking miner to work was killed by a concrete post that was dropped onto his vehicle from a road bridge. Two striking miners were convicted of his manslaughter.

    For MacColl though, this is black and white. The workers (or strikers in this case) can do no wrong, and anyone who doesn't support them is a blackleg, scab, scum or worse. According to the American performer Andy Blue - who has recorded "Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?" - MacColl said 25,000 cassettes of this song had been handed out on the picket lines. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

Comments: 2

  • London Celtic Punks from London, EnglandGod bless Ewan MacColl an inspiration to many and still inspiring people now. The only good scab is a dead one if you ask me...
    The Scab
    A Poem by: Jack London (1876-1916)
    After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

    A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

    When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

    No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

    Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army. The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

    Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.
  • Maggiethatcher from Sheffield, United KingdomBrilliant! I've compiled a list of songs featuring margaret Thatcher or the strike at and particularly like 'The Maggie Thatcher Experience' with 'The Lady's not for Burning (Piss anthem) - I've recreated the list here:
    Bernstein (f.k.a. Dan Bern) - Children of the Cold War
    Bérurier Noir - Et Hop
    Billy Bragg - Thatcherites
    Braintax - Decade on Panorama
    Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - Evil
    Conflict - These Colours Don't Run
    Conflict - Neither Is This
    Conflict - To Whom It May Concern
    Corries - Who'll Take The Ball from Maggie Thatcher?
    Crass - Nineteen Eighty Bore
    Crass - Sucks
    David Diamond - Some Talk Of Ronald Reagan
    Deborah Holland - Pinochet and Margaret Thatcher
    Thomas Dolby - May The Cube Be With You
    Doug Anthony All Stars - If You're Happy 2
    Doug Anthony All Stars - The Sun
    Martin Carthy - Company Policy
    Elvis Costello - Tramp The Dirt Down
    Exploited - Don't Pay The Poll Tax
    Dick Gaughan - Ballad of '84 and others, indirectly
    Godfathers - Birth, School, Work, Death
    Hefner - The Day That Thatcher Dies
    Human League - The World Before Last
    Ewan MacColl - Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?
    Ewan MacColl - The Media and others, indirectly.
    The Maggie Thatcher Experience - Thatcher's death anthem
    The Maggie Thatcher Experience - The Lady's not for Burning (Piss anthem)
    Manic Street Preachers - If White America Told The Truth For One Day Its World Would Fall Apart
    Morrissey - Margaret On The Guillotine
    Aimee Mann - You're With Stupid Now
    Not Sensibles - I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher
    Pink Floyd - The Post War Dream
    Pink Floyd - Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
    Pink Floyd - The Fletcher Memorial Home
    Pink Floyd - Not Now John
    Renaud - Madame Thatcher
    Roger Waters - Four Minutes
    Roger Waters - The Story
    Roy Harper - Winds Of Change
    Sinéad O'Connor - Black Boys On Mopeds
    Space - No-One Understands
    Spailpin - The Maggie Thatcher Song
    Trust - Misere

    Games featuring Thatcher;
    Whack-a-miner (Ironic parody) from
    The lady's not for Burning from
    Milk Snatcher game from

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