Film Review: Still The Enemy Within

still the enemy within film review 2014

The Closure Of A Nation

You can tell a lot about an individual with the company they keep, and the ‘friends’ they chose to have around them. If your best friends turn out to be murderous dictators (Pinochet) and one of the most notorious known paedophiles ever in the UK (Savile) you’ll have to forgive my utter contempt for such an individual. So when Margaret Thatcher stepped forward and labelled (which the mainstream media dutifully supported) striking miners in the early 1980s as ‘The Enemy Within’, you would have to believe she was talking about her own social network. Fantastically enough, she wasn’t.

Even though I was only a mere youth whilst the Mines Strike was going on, I could tell that there was something deeply wrong with this ‘lady’ who was constantly on the news being very spiteful and condescending towards these ‘ordinary’ folk who worked down the mines. I say ordinary in relation to the fact they looked just like my parents, their friends and our neighbours in our town in Ireland, whereas Thatcher and her ilk looked like nothing from this earth, just seething cold grey forms from a place where integrity and equality weren’t even a concept never mind existed. I’m much older now, and I still think the same about the Conservatives.

My dislike of that party was intuitive as a child, how could people treat others like that, so inhumanely, and which such an apparent passion for cruelty, indifference. In those smogged filled pre-internet days any attempt to explain what was going on was funnelled and filtered solely through state or media baron owned press, effectively fulfilling the agenda of the government of the day, so some things never change. The agenda was revenge, and seemingly the Tories don’t believe revenge is best served cold, they believe it should be served all of the time, till folk drown in it. And they will use any mechanism at their disposal, even and in particular the police force.

still the enemy within film review 2014

This singular catalyst for revenge was the ability of the National Union Of Mineworkers to protect it’s members and their families from the actions of a previous Conservative government, and in doing so (via strike action) actually contributed to the downfall of Edward Heath, the Conservative Prime Minister. This could never be allowed to happen again and a report was drafted by Tory MP Nicholas Ridley, the ‘Ridley Plan’ to make sure it never did, and indeed it would be the mission plan for a future campaign.

Despite the millions in financial support behind the various media outlets regurgitating government propaganda, we now live in a world where it is possible to create an effective counter to this agenda, and wonderful insightful, humane pieces are being created showing the other side of historical experiences. Stepping up to show the true beating heart behind a Great Britain is Owen Gower’s ‘Still The Enemy Within’ (2014). With distinct patience and understanding of the reality behind the spin, we get to meet the actual ordinary people who comprised the valiant attempt to protect themselves, their families, their friends, their villages and ultimately a nation from the self serving machinations of government and their corporate infection. These aren’t media trained spin doctors and party minions towing the line, and it is staggering to listen to the stories they have to impart without the hollow sound of a media focus group lead speech writer typing away behind every word, or telling them how to gesticulate to impart warmth/empathy. These are ordinary folk telling extraordinary tales in their own words. It only emphasises how far the world of media is from reality, then and most definitely now.

It methodically follows the time line of the duration of the strike, which when viewed now looks like another oppressive world. But by showing up the pointers and plans of attack made in the Ridley Plan it shows the ruthless, almost sadistic and definitely malevolent desire of the government to wipe out any opposition by the Miners Union (and anyone else) to maintain their reign. It is an ultimately tragic affair if indeed you know your history, but that’s not how this great documentary leaves you feeling. There is such warmth, tolerance and compassion emanating from the screen (clearly not from any of the politicians) that despite the outcome, it fills you with hope. But hope is fuelled by action, and hope is much needed now as there is no doubt that the Conservative government are acting on similar ideologies today as they sell off and privatise the NHS, education, Royal Mail and any/every other institution that was created out of the universal sacrifice of the ordinary people in the UK. This is an essential documentary for anyone and everyone living in the UK today, as the folk who rule us are not acting in our interests, and never have been.


‘Still The Enemy Within’ is out now.
Pics ©John Sturrock/

Steve Clarke

Born in Celtic lands, nurtured in art college, trained by the BBC, inspired by Hunter S. Thompson and released onto the battlefront of all things interesting/inspiring/good vibes... people, movies, music, clubbing, revolution, gigs, festivals, books, art, theatre, painting and trying to find letters on keyboards in the name of flushthefashion. Making sure it's not quite on the western front... and beyond.