GB84 – who was the real Stephen Sweet (aka ‘The Jew’)???


In David Peaces haunting, brilliant book ‘GB84’, the character of Stephen Sweet, enemy of Socialism, the Miners Strike and the free market, is portrayed as an eccentric and emotional Right-wing warrior in thrall to the UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. A peculiar figure in the book, he is both a fierce defender of Conservative values and a fragile, emotional creature with a flamboynt sense of style. He is one of the main characters in Peaces haunting account of the dispute (that went for a over a year between 1984 and 1985) between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Conservative Government of the day.

But who was Stephen Sweet – was he a fiction, a faction or a composite of several figures involved in the dispute?

It seems that Stephen Sweet was simply based on the Milionaire David Hart, an advisor to Thatcher and the National Coal Board Chief Ian MacGregor. Through his efforts to get Miners back to work, to break the picket and to establish a breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers, who did not support the NUM action. He was associated with the Thatcher family, including Mark Thatcher, and if you read the links below, you’ll find out some more about the man who is Stephen Sweet. Is it a coincidence that when you put their names together you get SweetHart???

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/aug/25/politicalnews.southafrica A guide to an attempted coup in Equitorial Guinea – with some familiar names implicated.

http://oraclesyndicate.twoday.net/stories/2534432 – more on the ‘Wonga’ coup

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/mar/01/uk.tradeunions – an article on a few of the key figures in the dispute including David Hart and Arthur Scargill

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/006370.html – a fantastic book review and analysis of its content, context and meaning. Highly recommended.

http://www.geocities.com/socialistparty/Documents/NumReviews.htm A socialist party review on ‘outstanding accounts’ of the Miners Strike.

http://www.workersliberty.org/node/2366 – media bias in the portrayal of the NUM, Miners and Police.

http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/corru/doc/harare6.html – attempted coups in African States, with Mark Thatcher and David Hart

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_miners%27_strike_(1984-1985) – what happened before, during and after the strike.

http://www.strike84.co.uk/ – a brilliant site dedicated to the work of Martin Shakeshaft who documented the stike with his camera.

Image taken courtesy of The Guardian;

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/gallery/2005/01/07/miner_mcphee.jpg

2 thoughts on “GB84 – who was the real Stephen Sweet (aka ‘The Jew’)???”

  1. Just read GB 84. Still flinching from the sqweemish end!Very interesting book, didn't really know much about the strike before.From looking at your link to "No regrets from key players in dispute" in Guardian, it looks like you're right that Sweet was a fictional version of Hart. Firstly the "go between" generally fits. Also towards the end of the book he is more against any settlement than McGregor and the ministers like Hart is in the article. The clincher to me is the paragraph "From a suite in the plush Claridges hotel in London, he orchestrated and bankrolled the working miners' committee. He handed cash to strike-breakers and coordinated the legal action which tied the NUM up in knots.""Claridges" – check!"he orchestrated and bankrolled the working miners' committee" – check!"He handed cash to strike-breakers" – check!"coordinated the legal action which tied the NUM up in knots" – check!Good blog, cheers

  2. You are most welcome. The David Peace books I was reading at that time (the Red Riding books, Damned United, GB84) all had a unique kind of sweaty paranoia that seemed to seep from book to book, like they all formed a massive chronicle of the UK in the 70's and early 80's. If you haven't checked out any of his other books, The Damned United and 1974 are the next ones I would recommend.I tried reading the first of his Tokyo series, but it just didn't grab me with the intensity of his earlier works. Which is maybe unfair on the book and the writer, as those earlier books are some of the best fiction (faction) I have ever read.

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