The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113160 Message #2402955
Posted By: Peter K (Fionn)
01-Aug-08 - 07:56 AM
Thread Name: BS: If you see Sid tell him . . .
Subject: RE: BS: If you see Sid tell him . . .
Sapper82 is right about Scargill and his desperation to outdo Gormley. He attempted to win two ballots for strike action against revisions to working practices, lost both and then launched a strike against pit closures without even seeking the mandate of a ballot. (At that time a ballot was not compulsory under law and ws required only by the NUM's own rulebook. No union outside the coal industry had such a requirement.)
Even worse, Scargill called that strike precisely when Thatcher wanted him to - when summer was approaching and coal stocks had been built to their highest-ever levels.
So yes, Scargill was a disaster. I always wished Mick McGahey had beaten him to the presidency and it would have been a diferent story altogether. BUT....
Overwhelmingly the mineworkers who stayed out for that whole bitter year did so out of a genuine concern to preserve their jobs and the communities that had been built around the coal industry. They failed to understand Thatcher's obsessive determination to crush the industry at any price, just as she did her very best to destroy Britain's railway infrastructure and dispense with the nation's publicly owned housing stock.
I'm happy to see the deep-mined coal industry all but gone - working conditions were never going to be better than deplorable, and I was always amazed at the determination of mineworkers to preserve such jobs. But running the industry down should have been a managed process. And blaming Tony Benn for any part in the mess that actually happened is frankly infantile. (Tony Benn's appearance at the recent Warwick Folk Festival was the only one to get a standing ovation from a full house in the main-stage marquee.)