Highly acclaimed cartoons published during the 1984-85 miners’ strike are to be included a book celebrating the work of the socialist cartoonist Alan Hardman which is due to be released during the 40th anniversary year of the dispute.

His illustration based on the wartime recruiting poster Lord Kitchener Wants You – one of the most iconic and enduring images of World War I – was widely publicised to rally support for the mining communities.

“Your Class Needs YOU: Save the Pits” was the stark appeal from a miner wearing a helmet and pit lamp.

At the time of the strike, Hardman was the cartoonist for the weekly newspaper Militant – now the Socialist Party – and his cartoons reflected his Yorkshire roots, having grown up in Barnsley.

Need Not Greed is being published in hardcover on his behalf by his family by Bluecoat Press www.bluecoatpress.co.uk and will showcase his life’s work. Online fundraising has been organised via the Kickstarter platform.

He selected the cartoons and agreed the text for each section. He saw the book as his last major project and worked on its preparation until the autumn of 2023, before his death in January this year.

A foreword he wrote to accompany his cartoons on the pit strike is a poignant reminder of why he felt so moved by the plight of the strikers and their families.

“The miners’ strike was very close to my heart.

“I’m from a mining family so I empathised strongly with the miners’ strike.

“My grandad was killed down the pit along with one of my uncles. My dad and another one of my uncles tried to dig them out but they couldn’t and, tragically, they both died.”

Hardman’s cartoons during the strike reflected the violence that was seen, and the action taken by the police to restrain the pickets.

His cartoon of Arthur Scargill being hit on the head with a truncheon was validated by the account given by the NUM President who ended up having to spend the night in hospital at Rotherham after falling during violent scenes at the Battle of Orgreave on 18 June 1984 at the height of the mass picket at the Orgreave coke works.

In his endorsement of the book, Scargill highlights the significance of the book’s title, Need Not Greed:

“Alan Hardman’s drawings of the mining industry depicting the greed of profiteers and the suffering of miners reveal at the same time miners’ realisation of their collective power: to challenge the greed, to organise and fight back.”

In the final weeks of the strike in early 1985, Hardman’s work reflected the grim reality of the strikers returning to work defeated.

They were having to come to terms with the looming prospect of a wave of pit closures with men faced with no alternative but to accept a redundancy payment from the National Coal Board.

 Hardman, who was born in 1936, was a printer by trade. He had no formal art or graphics training but loved drawing and painting.

In 1971 he joined the Militant Tendency becoming the organisation’s printer, designer of their weekly newspaper, Militant, and then started drawing the cartoons that would become his mission for the following 40 years.

The Daily Cartoonist described Hardman as being one of a very rare breed of socialist whose skills and dedication helped to amplify the message of socialism through his entire life.

“His skill lay in the political cartoons he regularly produced, which could convey quickly and simply political messaging which were usually designed as a commentary on ongoing events.”

In his tribute, Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party, said the cartoons Hardman produced during the miners’ strike were of particular note because they followed discussions with miners and other Militant supporters. They would be drawn within hours, and then appear on the picket lines within days.

When the Labour government was followed by the “vicious Thatcher government” and their attacks on the unions, strikes, anti-redundancy campaigns and unemployment, this background provided the stuff for Hardman’s satire and political commentary.

“Sometimes a visual cartoon can encapsulate political points in a more dynamic way; other times he could pick up an action or a phrase and develop a whole point.”

Hardman’s work will be included in a presentation by Nicholas Jones which is being held by Media North at Wakefield Town Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8 May:

The Art of Class War: The 1984-85 miners’ strike as seen through the eyes of newspaper cartoonists.