THE scars left by centuries of mining can still be seen in the landscape of Durham, and those left by the miners’ strike of 40 years ago can still be found on the people.

There are still personal divisions between families and neighbours of strikers and those who went back to work that will, unfortunately, go to the grave, and there are political divisions that may just be beginning to heal.

Boris Johnson in 2019 was the first Conservative leader to win the votes of a swathe of the coalfield because mining communities felt betrayed and then forgotten about by Margaret Thatcher’s government.

Betrayed because it felt like the ordinary miners were the little people who were the victims of a big power game between the Tories and the unions. Betrayed because there is now little doubt that the police – especially in South Yorkshire – were being used as a repressive arm of government.

And betrayed because it was their way of life – and their fathers’ and their grandfathers’ before them – that was being torn up in front of them. The reason for the existence of their communities – the terraces, the chapels, the pubs, the brass bands and the pigeon lofts – was being ripped out on an economic whim, and there was no vision of what their future might be and no investment to help them get there. It was destruction of an identity – Durham, the land of coal would soon have no coal.

There is now no doubt that the region needed to change, but this was change by confrontation and coercion rather than by collaboration and conciliation.

We do things differently today, with taskforces to help when there are large job losses and with officials and even mayors tasked to ensure jobs exist in a balanced local economy. Hopefully, we value the sense of community and local pride far more than we did in the 1980s although the fact that, instead of soup kitchens, we tolerate foodbanks and child poverty in our midst suggests that we still haven’t learned all the lessons from those left behind scars.