Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been mapping its own history of photography in the UK. Here, Irvine Welsh, Sadiq Khan, Jeanette Winterson, Nadav Kander and others pick the shots that sum up Britishness for them
A astonishing miner, Orgreave, 1984
Luke Wright, poet
This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee establishes striking miner( Striking? Hes absolutely exquisite !) George Geordie Brealey( claim) and policeman Paul Castle( far left) at Orgreave on 18 June 1984. What followed, known as the Battle of Orgreave, was one of the severest strifes in recent British civil record, as 6,000 police officer and 5,000 miners faced off at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.
Brealey was said to have form for joking and jester with police officer on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one person, sarcastically incognito, facing an infinite militarised police force. Brealey is at once brave, good-humoured and anti-establishment a British hero.
I was two in 1984, so this event is beyond my living memory, but it seems increasingly relevant to the schisms of contemporary Britain. Orgreave tagged a important turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners strike, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the splits of Brexit they place back to a moment like this.