Did The BBC Help Thatcher Crush The Miners In ’84?


The BBC up to their usual tricks….trying their hardest to malign Thatcher….and have dragged in ex-BBC journo, Nick Jones, to help out…..Jones being very pro the miners who went out on strike and anti-Tory….but of course the BBC doesn’t mention his ‘leanings.’


The BBC has published this farcical ‘report’ based on material released by the National Archives on the Miner’s Strike and Nick Jones’ interpretation of it and past events:

Cabinet papers reveal ‘secret coal pits closure plan’


The BBC reporter, Nick Higham,  gets Jones to give him what every good BBC journo wants…the ‘dirt’ on Thatcher:

“If this document had ever emerged during the strike it would have been devastating for the credibility of Margaret Thatcher” because Mrs Thatcher and Mr MacGregor always maintained there were plans for the closure of only 20 pits, said Mr Jones.

Needless to say the truth about what was ‘revealed’ by Jones and the BBC is somewhat different to their interpretation….but as I say that’s for another post.


What is odd is that the reporter didn’t ask Jones about the extraordinary ‘bombshell’ claim made about the BBC helping the government to crush the strike…Jones mentions them in his own blog...but goes on to say he doesn’t think any such thing happened…however it is interesting to note whose side he is on now…the same side he was on during the strike it seems……

Fresh claims have been made about government manipulation of the BBC’scoverage of the 1984-5 miners’ strike.  It is now alleged that specific instructions were issued from the “highest level of government” to ensure that the BBC’s camera crews focused on the miners’ violence and not on “the police smashing heads”.  The allegation has been made by the former Daily Mirror industrial editor Geoffrey Goodman, chairman of the editorial board of British Journalism Review, who insisted he has an “impeccable source”.

Frankly I don’t believe it: I don’t think there were any such instructions.  But I do accept that a mistake were made, that the editing of the pictures was probably at fault.   I have frequently been under great pressure in a edit suites, often on location, and as the pictures are pasted in – the film was actually cut in those days – it is very easy to get confused, to put pictures in the wrong order.
But the much more likely explanation about what happened at Orgreave – and this is perhaps what’s led to Geoffrey Goodman’s assertion – is that the BBC’s crews were predominantly positioned behind the police lines.  The BBC’s crews weren’t welcome among the pickets; they did get a hostile reaction in the mining villages; sometimes they had to hang back, behind the police, for their own protection.  So yes if one looked at it overall, the footage was perhaps biased in favour of the police and against the miners.

Shafted: The Media, the Miners’ Strike and the Aftermath (published by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom), the Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Peter Lazenby says the BBC has admitted that it changed the sequence of events.  In reviewing Shafted for the British Journalism Review, Geoffrey Goodman, the former industrial editor of the Daily Mirror, goes much further.  He says he was told by an “impeccable source” that there were “specific instructions from the highest level of government to the BBC to ensure that television camera crews filming the conflict between the miners and the police focused their shots on miners’ violence, but not on the police smashing heads”. So Goodman is quite categorical: he claims there was blatant state interference in the BBC’s coverage.  Personally I had not heard of that claim before being made by Geoffrey Goodman.   I wasn’t at Orgreave that day, nor was I there during the violence of the preceding weeks.  At that time I wasn’t even a television reporter.  My job was with BBC Radio.  I was a labour and industrial correspondent and it was my job to keep pace with the wider industrial repercussions of the strike and the ins and outs of the tortuous on-off negotiations between the NUM and the NCB.  So I can’t offer an eyewitness account of what happened at Orgreave during the struggles between the police and the pickets.  But I can give an insider’s view of events as they were perceived from within the BBC.
To begin with, what I think is more important is that I should reflect on those areas where I might personally have been at fault. The military analogy with which I opened my remarks is pertinent to what I want to say.  The miners’ strike was seen — at least through the eyes of the news media — as a fight to the finish between Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher.  The forces of the state were mobilised against the shock troops of organised labour.  Reporters rarely indulge in public soul searching but it was the most momentous assignment during my fifty years as a journalist. I freely admit that it has been the story which has troubled me most of all when I look back, when I remember the way the miners’ struggle was reported and the subsequent minimal editorial scrutiny of the subsequent ruination by the Conservatives of a once great industry.    


Perhaps that explains the BBC’s pathological hatred of Thatcher……they are making up for their alleged treachery by denouncing and demonising Thatcher every chance they get.


It is interesting how Jones thinks the miners were wrongly portrayed as the aggressors….and yet he admits the media had to have police protection.




Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Did The BBC Help Thatcher Crush The Miners In ’84?

  1. chris says:

    The forces of the state were mobilised against the shock troops of organised labour.

    We need some of the same spirit from the working class against the whole LIBLABDEM cartel.


  2. nofanofpoliticians says:

    Watching the report referred to on the 10 O’clock news last night the thing that struck me was that it was Nick Higham was chosen to run the report. Nick Higham is normally associated with the Arts and Media, so possibly wouldn’t be expected to ask any questions on the nitty-gritty.

    His first question to Nick Jones (So Nick Jones, what do you make of that?) sort of gave that particular game away.

    It was a disgrace, a lightweight approach to a serious topic designed to mislead.


    • Deborah says:

      I hadn’t thought about why Nick Higham was asking the questions – thanks Nofanofpoliticians – I should never take anything the BBC does at face value. But it was so obvious where Nick Jones political allegiance lies that I just ignored the whole item.


  3. Rob says:

    The bottom line is that the miners’ strike was not an industrial dispute in the usual sense, it was an attempt by a Communist cabal led by Arthur Scargill at the top of the NUM to topple the democratically elected government of Britain. It was a slow motion Communist coup d’état, and the stakes were huge. If Scargill, with backing from the USSR had toppled the Thatcher government and had a puppet Labour government installed, under his thumb, it is quite possible that Gorbachov would never have embarked on reform of the USSR, and the Cold War could have continued to this day. Clearly, the end of the USSR is a problem for many progressives working for the BBC, but some of us think it was a good thing on the whole!


    • chris says:

      End of the USSR was a catastrophe for democracy in the west.
      The non Marxists didn’t have a fear factor to use against the likes of Blair et al, and everyone was taken in by the premise that Marxism was dead.
      It will be marked as the beginning of the end for our country.


    • John fox says:

      Are you serious or have just omitted to take your medication.


  4. chrisH says:

    Suppose that Callaghans and Wilsons closing of the pits wasn`t cited as a precdent was it?
    Nor would anything about how Heathfield, McGahey and Scargill managed to prosper financially throughout the strike, whilst others suffered for their vanities.
    No mention of Gadhaffis or Andropovs links with it all either I`d expect…the BBC doubtless had THEIR links with this unsavoury mashup of useful idiots…Bruce Kent, Catherine Ashton probably somewhere in that mix as well.
    Not a bit of investigation here though-nothing to see.
    Chomsky, Laski, Hobsbawm and the famous Ralph Miliband…I do wonder how they manage to have done so well . being merely Soviet sumps of unthinking privilege and on the BBCs payroll.


    • pah says:

      What is interesting, on the death of WPC Yvonne Fletcher is that the government were very concerned that any action against the Libyan embassy would trigger immediate action against the British embassy in Libya. They knew this because the British embassy was already surrounded by a violent crowd and they had been told via a BBC reporter of threats made by Gadhafi.

      So the BBC knew full well that there were repercussions already in train yet they rarely mention this in recent reports.


  5. pah says:

    I’d suggest that anyone commenting on this either here or at the BBC should download this 75MB PDF and see what they actual say first.

    Just a cursory scan gives a very different picture to that being peddled by the BBC. Contrary to the ‘news’ the government was at pains not to pit the police against the miners and were severely hampered by the ‘independence’ of county police commissioners who resented being told how to handle the pickets by the Home Secretary.

    Also the quote about pit closures misses out the details of how many pit closures were on going anyway, the fact that this was a proposal* that was less than had previously been accepted by the NUM under the Wilson/Callaghan regime and that these pits were costing the country 4 times the amount of money than the coal could be sold for. As to the list of 75 pits there was no list and it plainly says in the documents that no list should be drawn up!

    I know the BBC will never tell the truth about the miners strike but the level of dishonesty about these papers is astonishing.

    As to the documents being secret well of course they are. What government advertises it’s strategy during a dispute?

    *NB This was a proposal not an agreement. In the next paragraph it is plainly stated that the Secretary of State ‘noted that there would be considerable problems with this.’ Not the least the impact on the miners and the associated industries. Hardly a plan to destroy an industry.


    • Alan says:

      noted that there would be considerable problems with this.’ …ie… MacGregor’s proposal.

      Note…the BBC excised that inconvenient qualification from their ‘report’.


  6. marc says:

    The coal mining industry would have been devestated by the green loonies in charge of the country now anyway.


    • GCooper says:

      marc : “The coal mining industry would have been devestated by the green loonies in charge of the country now anyway. ”

      This is indeed wonderful irony, isn’t it? The very same numbskulls who are forever whining on about ‘AGW’ and ‘Green energy’ are also the people mournfully lamenting the closure of the coal industry!

      You can’t help but wonder about the intellectual abilities of Left wingers – especially the lightweights at the BBC.


      • Rob says:

        I clearly remember university numpties going round with their collection buckets for the “miners’ wives and families”. Now they are the crusty fools who climb up chimneys to stop coal fired electricity production. The only thing these idiots really hate is western progress.


  7. David Preiser (USA) says:

    To me, this is one big BBC Fail. I hope some of them do feel guilty over helping Thatcher defeat Scargill. If they’re going be that delusional, let them be miserable about it as well.

    Let’s imagine, for a moment, that the BBC had somehow shown more of the police bashing heads, and less of the violence from the miners. Let’s further imagine – since this is all about a BBC/Left-wing fantasy anyway – that this made Thatcher’s Government cave, perhaps not entirely in a way that would have bankrupt the country over night, but enough to keep a lot more mines open for a longer period of time.

    While we’re in BBC wet dreamland, let’s say some version of the ultimate BBC fantasy cam true, and at least 75 deep pits were still in operation today. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sainted North and in Wales would still be there, the degeneration of all those cities and towns wouldn’t have happened, Thatcher would have been removed from leadership much sooner, the Labour paradise would have happened sooner, etc.

    Just think of what this would mean to the Beeboids now. First off, most of their favorite 80s bands either wouldn’t exist, or wouldn’t have gained any following in a completely different political climate. Oh, the humanity. Never mind the effect on all those who would grow up to be the favored “edgy” comedians. BBC comedy panels would be completely different. They’d probably not have so many since there might not have been so many far-Left comedians coming up. Second, and most important, the BBC would be freaking out about all that coal mining destroying the planet with Global Warming, and would have to confront their own conflicting ideologies.

    They’d have to demand the mines get shut down now. The BBC was on the forefront of the doomsaying, so they’d have no choice. The resulting loss of all those jobs, the breaking of cities and towns, etc. would now be the fault of the Warmists, not Thatcher (we all know Labour closed more mines – irrelevant since we’re in BBC fantasy land for the moment). What’s a right-on Beeboid to think?

    They should be thanking Mrs. Thatcher for preventing even more Global Warming and possibly saving the planet, as well as for giving all Beeboids over 30 their favorite bands. Paul Mason would never have written music for an opera, and wouldn’t have been inspired to become a business journalist if not for the Iron Lady (okay, that’s one negative that really was her fault). The majority of BBC staff wouldn’t have any personal identity if not for her.

    Another possibility is that organized labor would have squashed the green movement like a bug before it ever got off the ground. The comic possibilities are endless if you take the BBC dream to any logical conclusion. I hope they all have a full weekend of self-loathing, even if it’s not for the real reasons they should.


    • GCooper says:

      My suspicion, DP, is that the Green Movement would never have happened at all – at least, no more than as the presence of a fringe irritant.

      ‘Green’ ideas were adopted and championed by the Left after it had been routed by the Thatcher-Reagan triumph over Soviet communism. They became the new engine for the baggage train of Leftist ideas which, as has been widely noted, were little different pre or post the emergence of Green politics. The ‘eco’ bit was simply a new excuse for the same old policies.

      Had the miners succeeded, Britain today would be the socialist ‘paradise’ for which the BBC so transparently yearns. Or ‘Hell’ as it would be known to those suffering under it.


      • Span Ows says:

        Maggie was warning about the environment in the late 80s so could have been classed as a ‘greenie’…almost; so much so that Jonathon Porritt (Friends of the Earth) said “It wasn’t until Mrs Thatcher went into her short-lived green period that things really took off .”

        However, merely a decade later she had to warn “The new dogma about climate change has swept through the left-of-centre governing classes.”


      • Mark B says:

        Watermelon’s are what the Greenies are called. Green on the outside, blood red on the in.


  8. Span Ows says:

    “…of the subsequent ruination by the Conservatives of a once great industry.”

    This downright and complete lie just illustrates the utter ridiculousness of these people. Suffice to say the mere mention of the Daily Mirror toilet paper should in fact belie every sentence anyway allowing an even more exaggerated leftie-aimed version of “Oh it’s the Daily Mail what do you expect?”


  9. TPO says:

    I can speak with some experience of this. In 1984 I was serving in a southern counties provincial police force which had a commitment to provide 8 PSUs (Police Support Unit), basically 1 Sgt. and 12 PCs in each for public disorder and the like. This commitment was for Police Mutual Aid to other forces as and when needed. I was a member of one of those PSUs

    Out of the year long strike I spent 7 months away from home, predominately in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, with stints in Kent and Warwickshire.

    For the most part it was violence free with the occasional pushing and shoving, however when it got violent it could be quite ugly. Out of all the pickets I came across, the Welsh flying pickets were the most good humoured and good natured and would rarely do anything more than shout abuse.

    The worst tended to be what the working Nottinghamshire miners (which was most of the miners in Notts) called “The Barnsley Boot Boys”.
    I went to one pit called Manton where, at the beginning of the strike, the Barnsley thugs had descended and kicked the crap out of the Manton miners, most of whom were not spring chickens.

    I experienced Molotov cocktails at Cortonwood along with ball bearings fired from catapaults. They pushed a burning caravan down the hill which was rammed off the road by a police Range Rover. Then they sent a cricket pitch roller down at us which, amusingly, ground to a halt about six feet in front of our shield line because it was so rusty. Six police horses were then deployed in front of us, one of whom had diarrhea and splattered our shields and visors.

    Sometimes we were allotted to one pit for a week and on other occasions we were a mobile reserve which would be vectored to any pit where a mass flying picket was massing (another story in itself and how Special Branch had infiltrated the NUM hierarchy).

    Colleagues experienced miners running up to their Transit vans in darkness and firing Hilti industrial bolt guns through the sides. I spent a week driving through flaming barricades or diesel oil deliberately spilt on hillside roads when we were assigned to protect a government minister, Giles Shaw, who was on a factfinding mission for Maggie.
    I was also at both battles at Orgreave.

    I was present at a number of locations where TV cameras were present and can say that their presence always exacerbated the situation. The subsequent reporting, more often than not the BBC, tended to downplay violence on the part of the pickets and dwell on those police officers using their truncheons. I had personal experience of this when I appeared on the BBC one night ( a friend video recorded it for me) and it bore no relation to the events.
    In the final couple of weeks of the strike when it was obvious to all that it was going to end badly for the miners we were deployed to Brookhouse colliery. To keep it low key a small number of us were deployed in normal uniform.
    We became aware that a number of Marxists from the “Sheffield Police Watch” ( there were a number of these far left groups around the country) were present with cameras.
    We were a bit slow on the uptake. It took less than 5 minutes before we were getting bombarded with potatoes with razor blades stuck in them, coins that had their side sharpened, bottles and bricks. There was not enough time to redeploy with riot equipment so we had to do a baton charge. At that point the “Sheffield Police Watch” switched on their cameras to record the vicious fascist police attaching unarmed and innocent miners.
    The film was handed to the BBC who unquestioningly aired it nationwide that night.


    • Amounderness Lad says:

      The reason the BBC, and the rest of the Left, get into such a frantic state over Orgreave is that it was meant to be a rerun of the forced closing of the Saltley Coke Depot by mass picketing during the 1972 Miners Strike.
      At that time Militant Union Leaders could arrange “Sympathy Strikes” in support of strikes in totally unconnected industries.
      At Saltley the number of pickets, organised and led by Scargill, many of who were totally unconnected with mining or miners, was in excess of 15,000.
      The local police force were totally overwhelmed by those numbers and, as a result, the depot was ordered to close. The result was that a jittery Tory Government led by a very weak leader lost it’s nerve and were kicked out of office.
      Scargill was firmly of the opinion that he could organise a similar scenario again using his Storm Troopers, sorry Flying Pickets, to move around the country to various mining areas and similarly overwhelm the local police by sheer weight of numbers, shutting off all coal supplies and eventually grinding the country to a halt. He was under the delusion that by doing that he could once again force the Elected Government from office in order to replace it with one more compliant to his own political outlook.
      What he, and the rest of the NUM, failed, or rather blindly refused to see, was that not only had the Tory Party changed by that Thatcher was of a completely different character than the feeble Heath of 1972.
      Scargill was determined to prove that whoever the voters chose as a Government was really an irrelevance unless the Unions found them acceptable to themselves. He was determined to force the public to accept that voting for anything other than a Socialist Government was a complete waste of time because all that would happen was that the Unions would simply make the country ungovernable until a socialist Government was back in power.
      He attempted to foment the revolution in order to enforce a Marxist Britain and failed. That is why the Left and the BBC are so determined to rewrite history to suit their particular version of the poor oppressed and downtrodden workers brutally subjugated by nasty right wing bullies.


      • Wild says:

        “oppressed and downtrodden workers brutally subjugated”

        Scargill (in accordance with his Stalinism) endorsed the attempt by the Communists to suppress the Solidarity Trades Union in Poland.


      • TPO says:

        In hindsight the dye was cast from day one of the strike with Scargill leading troops back to Saltley coke depot only to find that it had been closed a couple of years previously.

        On the second day of the strike I was part of the first wave of reinforcements sent to Nottinghamshire which was to be the initial battlegrounds with Scargill’s Barnsley thugs coming south to use as much violence and intimidation as they could to shut the pits in Notts, particularly Thorsby and Ollerton.

        When we turned off of the M1 and joined the A453, it took us past the Ratcliffe on Soar coal fired power station, one of the big five power stations in England. The mountains of coal stacked up was astounding. this had been planned for.

        The following week when I was at Thorseby it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be touchy feely policing. The NUM had organized a cascading telephone call out to mount their mass pickets (and I only learnt this long after) but Special Branch had a mole high up in the NUM so police deployments to trouble spots got very advanced notice.
        Road blocks were set up to stop the pickets travelling from Yorkshire. If they refused to turn round they were arrested. If they refused to get out of their vehicles every window would be smashed in and they would be dragged out. Those that made it to the picket line were left in no doubt that any violence would be met with violence. It set the tone for the rest of the dispute. By July the battle for the Nottinghamshire pits was all but won and focus was turned onto South Yorkshire which was altogether a different kettle of fish.
        Back in Nottinghamshire picketing was reduced to intimidating working miners and their families in their own homes, something that the BBC has studiously ignored ever since.


        • pah says:

          Back in Nottinghamshire picketing was reduced to intimidating working miners and their families in their own homes, something that the BBC has studiously ignored ever since

          Yes, they steadfastly refuse to investigate claims of rape and assault made by working miners wives and daughters, of the children attacked by adults in the playgrounds, of the thousands of businesses from corner shops to garages intimidated into giving free services to striking miners. Many local businesses went bust because of this with no thanks or compensation from the NUM.

          All we get from the BBC is the Billy Elliot version of the strike.


      • johnnythefish says:

        One of the most ironic aspects of the strike was that the government ensured there was a massive stockpile of coal in place before the strike/confrontation began. Scargill and his henchmen were too thick and/or too arrogant to realise this even though his men had been paid bucketloads of overtime to mine the extra coal.

        Thatcher learned this lesson from the previous strike, when capitulation was the only option as stocks were running low and the country was in danger of a catastrophic energy shortage.


        • TPO says:

          Another thing I learnt long after the event and having been at Orgreave for both battles was that Orgreave was probably a diversionary feint.
          Whilst the pickets were massing there, lorry load after lorry load of coal and coke were coming out of Immingham port just 50 miles away.


    • Charlatans says:

      Thanks TPO – without you brave Police guys facing up to this Socialist Mafia, history of the UK would have taken a decidedly turn for the worse. It was undemocratic Union tactics, that if proved successful, would have mirrored exactly how Hitler flourished The country salutes you.


      • TPO says:

        I wouldn’t say I was brave. However I did benefit financially. If you were deployed on the strike you tended to work 16 hour days. If you stayed back in your home force you worked 12 hour days to cover the manning shortfalls. This went on for a year. Most of us doubled our pay during that year. The downside was the temporary accommodation we were stuck in. Condemned barrack blocks where it was easy to pick up bronchitis or in some circumstances pneumonia, just about everyone had runny noses during the winter months. Crap food and just sheer mental and physical exhaustion that went with it all.


  10. GCooper says:

    Thank you, TPO. Truths that the BBC would never, ever, publish.


    • TPO says:

      Thank you.
      I remember you from the old days here when we had biodegradable, archduke and that buffoon, hillhunt.
      Good to see you back.


  11. Llareggub says:

    Did the BBC report of the destruction of the US coal industry by Obama the the Green Messiah?



  12. Anders Thomasson says:

    Thanks very much for your service TPO and for your account of it.

    One of my holy grails even after all these years is incontrovertible proof that when Scargill claimed to have been attacked and injured by police he was lying. As I recall, at the time there was widespread belief that it was friendly fire from his own people but the NUM would never admit it and the BBC were only too happy to follow the party line.


    • TPO says:

      Thank you.. I found out afterwards that Scargill had received a head wound. From what I understand, and I didn’t see it happen, was that Scargill was strutting up and down in front of the police shield line. Up to that point the pickets had been spasmodically lobbing bricks and rocks at the front line and word was that one of them had inadvertently got Scargill.


      • Anders Thomasson says:

        As has been pointed out above and elsewhere it always seems perfectly OK for people to lob rocks, petrol bombs etc at police and to drop concrete slabs off bridges but somehow it is not OK for anyone to fight back. But we’re not saying anything new here; it has always been one set of rules for the lefties and another set of rules for decent people.