Boris Johnson’s pit closure comments last week were crass, distasteful and a distortion of history. East Lothian communities were shattered by the brutality of Thatcher’s war on the miners and many have never recovered. Where there had been employment and pride, came unemployment and despair, along with social problems like drugs and alcohol.
Remember the Tories planned and prepared for a confrontation. After Ted Heath got a bloody nose in disputes with the National Union of Mineworkers in the early 1970’s, revenge was plotted. The Ridley plan laid out the way in which they were going to do it and that was how it panned out. Using the forces of the state, after laying the ground for a confrontation.
It was nothing to do with addressing climate change and everything to do with smashing trade unions. Pits were closing and more would have followed but at a pace and in a manner that would have protected communities and allowed for a transition into new lines of work. It’s likely that even without her, there would be none operating today. The age of coal, when in 1900, one in five in Scotland had some connection with coal mining was gone.
But it should have been a transition to a new age and new economy. Instead it was unemployment and despair. Making light of it and trying to portary it whimsically as an environmental act was craven. People in these parts, as in other mining communities, suffered greatly despite the heroic efforts to support them. The legacy of neglect lives on to this day and the tragedy’s still all to real for many.
Locally, I’ve been engaged with police and anti-social behaviour teams. Sadly, the easing of lockdown has brought out the worst in a few and many communities have been blighted. It varies from appalling environmental abuse from some holidaying on the coast, to disorder in towns and villages.
The authorities are aware and are trying. It’s hard as pressures upon them are severe. But please continue to report incidents though cut them some slack as they’re doing their best.