Thatcher against British miners, new revelations

This video from Britain says about itself:

The Miner’s Strike in Photos – Billy Bragg, Arthur Scargill 25th Anniversary Speech.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Thatcher files show Scargill was right

Saturday 4th January 2013

Cabinet archives reveal true depth of Tories’ treachery with secret hit list of 75,000 jobs

National archive records exposed the depth of Tory government lies during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike with secret cabinet papers revealing yesterday a plot to slash 75,000 jobs drawn up months before the dispute.

The newly released documents record the secret Downing St meetings that laid the foundations for a ferocious attack on Britain’s trade union movement.

It started with the destruction of the National Union of Mineworkers and the coal-mining industry.

A hit list of 75 mines employing 75,000 miners had been drawn up by the Tories’ lick-spittle boss at the National Coal Board Ian MacGregor.

But throughout the bitter year-long dispute Tory leader Margaret Thatcher and her henchmen denied its existence.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Arthur Scargill insisted it had existed, but was howled down as a scaremonger by the Tories and their media allies.

Initial plans were drawn up in the ’70s by Sir Nicholas Ridley.

His report was a blueprint for mobilising police and if necessary the army against the miners.

NUM secretary Chris Kitchen told the Morning Star that the revelation of the hit list came as no surprise.

And he said wrecking the coal-mining industry following the strike paved the way for privatisation of a raft of publicly owned industries – and led to today’s energy crisis, soaring fuel bills and economic decline.

Mr Kitchen was a 17-year-old miner at Wheldale colliery at Castleford in West Yorkshire when the strike began.

He said: “We all knew it was not an industrial dispute, but a political dispute orchestrated by Thatcher and following the blueprint of the Ridley Report to destroy the trade union movement and pave the way for privatisation.”

He said Thatcher and the government determined when the strike should be provoked – just as summer was approaching and coal stocks were high.

Mr MacGregor selected Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire for closure – provoking the strike in March 1984.

“We did not decide the timing of the strike,” said Mr Kitchen.

“But the only option was to fight. If you just roll over you have no hope of winning. If you fight at least you have a chance.”

Before the strike there were around 180 deep coalmines in Britain and 180,000 miners.

Today there are three pits and fewer than 1,500 miners and Britain is dependent on imported energy for its survival.

Mr Kitchen added: “Nationalised industries helped each other. The mining industry provided coal for hospitals, for power stations, for British Steel.

“It worked for the benefit of the country, not shareholders. If we still had a coal industry we would have clean coal technology.

“There would be no energy crisis. Energy bills would have been a quarter of what they are now.

“But Thatcher wanted a dog-eat-dog society.”

See also here.

Papers released by the UK’s National Archives reveal that the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher developed detailed plans to use the army to break the year-long 1984-1985 miners’ strike: here.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher will fling down the gauntlet in the Commons as part of Labour’s “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign. Mr Dugher will demand an official government apology and the release of secret papers detailing collusion between Margaret Thatcher, ministers and the police: here.

DAVID CAMERON attempted yesterday to play down suggestions that the Thatcher government colluded in a massacre by Indian security forces of over 400 people in 1984: here.

Recently released documents reveal Britain’s special forces, acting on orders from Margaret Thatcher, assisted the Indian government’s 1984 assault on the Golden Temple: here.

Margaret Thatcher was a “surprisingly insecure” woman who promoted male MPs based on their good looks, according to Jonathan Aitken: here.

Thatcher’s brutal repression of miners in the 1980s has been exported across the world as a “model to attack democratic unions,” exiled Mexican labour leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia has told the Star: here.

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43 thoughts on “Thatcher against British miners, new revelations

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  26. Friday 30th
    posted by Morning Star in Features

    CONRAD LANDIN trawls through declassified files revealing Thatcher’s personal desire to pay back scab miners and the tensions this aroused within her cabinet

    CLASSIFIED Downing Street files on Margaret Thatcher’s meetings with the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) offer a fascinating insight into her government’s industrial relations strategy.

    The revelation that at least three meetings took place will not surprise many who witnessed the Tories’ war with the miners. But some of the details remain startling.

    As well as showing Thatcher’s personal investment in paying back strikebreaking miners for helping to end the 1984-85 strike, the documents expose how the PM’s strategy affected her relationship with cabinet colleagues.

    The UDM was born at the tail end of the strike in 1985, when the Nottinghamshire NUM voted to break away from the National Union of Mineworkers. The Nottinghamshire section had defied the national call for industrial action and the county was the scene of some of the most bitter clashes between pickets and strikebreakers.

    The UDM’s founding president Roy Lynk makes clear in a letter to Thatcher that the union felt a strong affinity with the Tory government. “In 1984 fate threw us together, and I have always comforted myself with the knowledge that the UDM has a friend in the Prime Minister,” he writes.

    But in the years after the strike, the UDM struggled to retain its mojo. Some members drifted back to the NUM, and the government’s managed decline of the coal industry could not be escaped. The UDM found itself pushing for wage claims a cost-cutting government would not accommodate.

    Thatcher, however, was determined to inform the strikebreakers that they would be rewarded for picking the government’s side.

    The first meeting detailed in these files — newly released to the National Archives — took place in 1986. Minutes report that Thatcher thanked Lynk and his colleague George Hunter “for all they had done during the miners’ strike, not just for their contribution to the end of the strike but also for the way they had helped to uphold democracy and freedom in this country.”

    And it appears Thatcher was unwilling to delegate negotiations with the UDM in the normal fashion. So much so that energy secretary Cecil Parkinson, one of Thatcher’s closest allies, became concerned.

    In a 1988 memo, Thatcher’s private secretary Paul Gray communicates that Parkinson wanted the PM to turn down Lynk’s request for a meeting. “Mr Parkinson is also disappointed that the UDM has not attempted to build a relationship with him, and so would prefer to take any meeting with Mr Lynk himself,” Gray writes.

    But in a handwritten note back to Gray at the foot of the document, Thatcher makes it clear that the biggest compromise she is prepared to make is for her and Parkinson to meet the UDM together. “We have to keep the UDM satisfied,” she writes. “We (and the country) owe a lot to their members. MT.”

    Though the union had cut ties with the NUM and was disowned by the rest of the labour movement, the documents reveal that Thatcher’s government used the UDM as a means to gain intelligence and strategy tips in its dealings with more hostile organisations. In 1986 Lynk reported that “the UDM was now very close to toppling Arthur Scargill.” In later communications, the breakaway union contends that Scargill’s re-election as NUM president is inevitable.

    But though hopes of removing Scargill at the pithead ballot were exhausted, the government’s pit closures strategy could also be powerful in rebalancing the membership numbers of the two unions.

    Ahead of the 1988 meeting, Mrs Thatcher is briefed to stress to Mr Lynk that British Coal (formerly the National Coal Board) has “leant over backwards” to continue coal production at closure-threatened pits “with a UDM majority.”

    A Downing Street briefing from 1989 — when the third meeting with Lynk took place — begins: “Helping the UDM survive and, if possible, thrive is essential. Not only do we still have reason to thank them for their efforts during the miners’ strike but also we must not allow the coal industry to return to the hands of the NUM.”

    Thatcher’s government further sought to use the strikebreakers’ union to undermine the monopoly of the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (Nacods).

    In 1988 Nacods, which represented safety-critical grades without which mines could not operate, was in dispute with the government over a wage claim.

    In a memo to Thatcher, Parkinson says British Coal “are anxious to do everything they can to strengthen the UDM’s long-term position” among grades traditionally represented by Nacods.

    “In particular, they intend to give UDM members the training required to become deputies; and to lay down that in UDM majority pits only members of the UDM deputies branch, when it had been formed, would be accepted as deputies,” he writes.

    “[British Coal] do not intend to make these intentions publicly known, at least at this stage, since they would seriously complicate the situation with Nacods. However, in the longer term they will help ensure that the UDM continues to offer substantial advantages to its members.”

    By the early ’90s, pit closures were accelerating to the point that the government could no longer convince its erstwhile mining allies that they were being shielded.

    Facing a backlash from the UDM ranks, Lynk jumped before he was pushed in 1992. Later that year, he staged a week-long sit in at the Silverhill pit, having been “shattered by the government’s callous pit closure plan” and “desperately hurt by the knives in the back from the Tories and British Coal,” according to the Nottingham Evening Post.

    His successor Neil Greatrex was jailed for four years in 2012 for stealing £150,000 from a fund intended to help sick miners.

    For all the advantages the UDM clawed at the time from breaking the strike, deep mining is now a thing of the past in Britain. As the closing titles say in Stanley Kubrick’s film Barry Lyndon, they are all equal now.

    Or perhaps not. Chris Kitchen, the current NUM leader, says there are echoes of Thatcher’s approach to the UDM in how the government handled the closures of the last two pits.

    If employers do not properly consult when laying off more than 20 staff, trade unions can apply for a “protective award” for workers on top of their redundancy pay.

    The UDM made such a claim after the closure of the last pit where it had a majority of the workforce — Thoresby in Nottinghamshire. Kitchen says the secretary of state, acting alongside administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers, withdrew its defence against paying out such an award.

    “But they’re defending vigorously an identical claim for the NUM-majority Kellingley colliery,” he says.

    “The relationship with the UDM appears to have continued all the way to 2015.”

    Conrad Landid is Morning Star industrial reporter.


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  36. Thursday 7th December 2017

    posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

    INSENSITIVE managers of a Yorkshire coal-mining museum angered ex-miners yesterday for refusing to cancel plans to host the local Conservative Association’s annual dinner.

    As reported exclusively in the Morning Star earlier this week, Dewsbury Conservative Association in West Yorkshire is to hold its annual dinner at the National Coal Mining Museum of England on March 10 next year, three days after the anniversary of the end of the heroic miners’ strike against pit closures in 1984-5.

    The Tory provocation sparked a storm of protest from ex-miners, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC).

    NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen wrote to museum director Nick Dodd telling him of the “sense of anger” at the booking.

    The museum is on the site of the former Caphouse colliery, near Wakefield.

    He wrote: “It is a matter of common knowledge that members of the Conservative Party conspired to close and destroy the coal industry in the UK. In fact, although they denied it at the time, the Margaret Thatcher Foundation gloats and reveals the extent of the deception.

    “I think it is wrong for the museum to be used by a political party that is clearly determined to keep rubbing salt into the wounds it created whenever it can.”

    But Mr Dodd said in a statement that the dinner will go ahead.

    He said that, as a publicly and grant-funded registered charity, the museum “is required by the Charity Commission’s rules to maintain political independence.”

    OTJC chair Joe Rollin has warned that the dinner will be picketed.


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