The Miners Strike – Scotsman Article – 13 August 2021


Neither climate change nor the Miners Strike are laughing matters, yet Boris Johnson with his usual buffoonery crassly sought to make light of them. His comments were also not only hugely disrespectful but historically inaccurate.

Margaret Thatcher’s attack upon the mining communities was nothing to do with global warming but everything to do with smashing the trade union movement. The price’s still being paid by communities the length of the UK. Where once there had been work and spirit, came redundancy and despair. Alcohol and drugs poured in, and the harm’s evident to this day.

Even without Thatcher’s cull there would be no pits operating today. King Coals day, when in 1900 it was reckoned that 1 in 5 Scots had some connection to the industry, were long gone. It was going but it should have gone in an orderly fashion allowing for an opportunity for communities, as well as individuals, to transition into new lines of work. Instead she saw an opportunity to smash the vanguard of organised labour, laying down markers for future industrial relations.

For let’s not forget the Ridley plan, as this didn’t come about by accident but by design. Named after Sir Nicholas Ridley who was tasked with devising a strategy to deal with a future miners strike after Ted Heath’s Tory Government got several bloody noses in the early 1970’s. It laid down a template including maximising coal stocks through to utilising the police and authorities to enforce victory.

It was almost followed to order and sadly Arthur Scargill fell into the trap. Things might have been different had Mick McGahey led the NUM. But Joe Gormley’s desire to stymie the Scots Communist from succeeding him, simply handed control to Scargill.

Perhaps, more than the failure to hold a ballot was the unwillingness to settle when Sir Iain McGregor and the Coal Board were willing to do so. Some closures would have been required but instead Scargill gambled all or nothing. Not only did he lose but so did those communities.

But the harm done isn’t funny and it certainly wasn’t done for climate change.