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The Winter of DiscontentMyth, Memory, and History$
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Tara Martin López

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380291

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380291.001.0001

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‘The Second Stalingrad’: The Road Haulage Strikes

‘The Second Stalingrad’: The Road Haulage Strikes

(p.86) 4 ‘The Second Stalingrad’: The Road Haulage Strikes
The Winter of Discontent

Tara Martin López

Liverpool University Press

This chapter briefly outlines the broader social, political, and industrial forces that incited road haulage disputes of the Winter of Discontent and then focuses on the lives of two key participants in this strike: William Rodgers, Secretary of Transport in the Labour Government, and Fred Beach, Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) shop steward. The chapter lays particular focus on the media’s representation of the strikes and asserts that while the media did at times mischaracterize this strike, efforts to construct and/or manipulate media messages arose from multiple constituents, from employers to journalists to trade unionists. Also, the chapter reveals that the lorry drivers’ potential threat to vital supplies sharpened the sense of victimization and frustration already felt among the British public in the 1970s, and it was Margaret Thatcher’s expression of that uncertainty propelled both her electoral and policy prospects forward. Furthermore, the chapter utilizes historian David Arnold’s theorization of extreme weather as a memory aid, framing the author’s argument that the record-breaking weather of the winter of 1978-79 made the memories of theses strikes especially potent and resilient in popular memory.

Keywords:   Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU), media, road haulage, lorry drivers, Margaret Thatcher, David Arnold, extreme weather

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