The BBC and the Left frequently portray Thatcher as the destroyer of the coal industry.
Just how true is that?:
In 1900 there were 3,384 coal mines.
In 1975 there were only 241 coal mines…..3,143 coal mines having been closed by then.
In 1979 there were only 219.
In 1995 there were 65 coal mines.
So was Thatcher really responsible for the ‘ruination’ of a once great industry?
Only if history begins in 1979.
Number of working colleries in the UK
1900 – 3384
1920 – 2851
1930 – 2328
1944 – 1634
1947 – 958
1950 – 901
1955 – 850
1960 – 698
1965 – 483
1970 – 292
1975 – 241
1979 – 219
1980 – 213
1981 – 200
1982 – 191
1983 – 170
1984 – 169
1985 – 133
1986 – 110
1987 – 94
1988 – 86
1989 – 73
1990 – 65
1995 – 65
2000 – 28
2004 – 19
Labour’s Harold Wilson closed around 290 mines, Thatcher 160.
The National Union of Miner’s own website says:
Throughout the 1960s, with a Labour Government in office from 1964, the pit closure programme accelerated; it decimated the industry. During this period, nearly 300 more pits were closed, and the total workforce slumped from over 750,000 in the late 1950s down to 320,000 by 1968. In many parts of Britain, miners now became known as industrial gypsies as pit closures forced them to move from coalfield to coalfield in search of secure jobs.
They were victims of madhouse economics.
Arthur Scargill, the NUM leader, is now being portrayed as a hero…and yet the voting record shows him to be anything but…going against the wishes of his members and leading them to destruction….never mind his refusal to hold a national ballot on taking strike action…because he’d lost two previous ones:
Pretty clear…..69.2% against strike action in these area ballots.
Scargill and the NUM were being funded by the Soviet Union…..Scargill of course used, exploited, the miners as ‘shock troops’ in his political battle to try and impose a hard Left Union rule over the country regardless of the hardships they faced as he betrayed them.
The BBC here try to make light of that and quietly pooh pooh the connection to the Soviets….
Long-shot wait for miners’ cash
At one stage during the miners’ strike the government hoped it might catch red-handed someone from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) trying to smuggle a suitcase full of banknotes into Britain. Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong wrote: “If a representative of the NUM could be detected entering this country with a suitcase full of banknotes, it might be possible for him to be stopped and searched at customs.”
“Those concerned” (by which he presumably meant Special Branch and MI5) were “exercising vigilance” and on the look-out for anyone from the union going abroad “for the purpose of collecting consignments of notes”.
This was, he admitted, something of a long shot, “but is the best we can do”.
…but such funding was confidently reported by the leftwing Morning Star as the Telegraph points out in its more serious report:
However, it was the considerable donations to the NUM from sources in the USSR that most alarmed Number 10.
Minsters were alerted by MI5 to the Soviet financial lifeline for the miners in early November 1984.
Later that month a secret Government document noted a report in The Morning Star, the British socialist newspaper, that the union had received more than $1.1 million from “our Soviet comrades”.
Sir Geoffrey Howe, the foreign secretary, viewed this as “a matter of some concern” and demanded that the Soviet Embassy in London give a “clear account” of Moscow’s role in the transfer of aid from Soviet miners to the NUM.
A Foreign Office aide wrote to Charles Powell, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser: “Our belief, which we are checking with our embassy in Moscow, is that it would be most unlikely that the Soviet miners’ union could have been given access to convertible roubles without express Soviet official permission… The Soviet Government has, to some extent, been involved.”
Margaret Thatcher blocked Soviet aid for striking miners, files reveal
Thatcher’s diplomatic offensive worked: no donation reached the British miners during their year-long strike. Gorbachev had embarked on his effort to reform the sclerotic Soviet state and concluded that the wiser option was to continue cultivating the British prime minister for the sake of relations between the two countries. Sacrificing the interests of the British miners was the price to be paid for not upsetting the so-called Iron Lady.
So why does the BBC try to treat it all as a bit of a joke? Are they trying to distance the NUM and Scargill from his Marxist brothers and paint him as a victim of rightwing smears?
The conclusion must be, then, that Mr Scargill has organised a strike which has no basis in the democratic procedures of his union, which is probably opposed by a majority of its membership, which is employing mass picketing of a kind that is now illegal, and which involves violence and intimidation on a scale quite alien to British traditions, in an attempt to force a democratically-elected government to abandon some of its policies. Mr Scargill may – ludicrously – be condemned as a collaborationist by leading members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, such as Frank Richards and Mike Freeman, but their vague rhetoric about uniting the working class and ‘taking control’ does not carry the menace that Mr Scargill does.?
Here are some inconvenient points the BBC should be including in any report about the miner’s strike:
1. There was no national ballot for a strike…it was illegal.
2. The miners were offered very generous redundancy terms….better, far better, than anything else on offer in the public sector….as well as a pay rise of over 5% for those still employed.
3. There was huge investment going on in the coal industry at the same time as inefficient pits were closing….claims that the intention was to destroy the industry were patently untrue.
4. As mentioned above, the close links to the Soviet Union which was attempting to fund and stir up industrial conflict in the UK.
5. Whilst the BBC gives voice to the heroic battles and struggles of the miners it fails to point out the massive disruption that a successful strike would have imposed on the country…decimating industry, shutting power stations and turning out the lights in domestic homes.