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(64 Posts)
BMW6 Wed 17-Apr-13 23:50:58

Arthur Scargill loses battle to have union meet costs of London flat

Whatever happened to him?

CarpeVinum Thu 18-Apr-13 08:55:23

perhaps Britain wouldn't be in the flipping mess it is today


It would be in something like the state Italy is in.

I was one of Thatchers children, who had the misfortune to suddenly be the "scummy" offspring of a "scummy" single mother, managed to get on the wrong side of all policies to the extent I ended up homeless (as in actual on the streets and having to squat as the only alternative to sleeping on a pavement again) and dealing with hostile immigration officers due to the love of life (then) being a nasty "furrin". Oh, and more than half of my family worked for Viners for the majority of their working life, and then didn't when the steel industy went tits up.

So I had pretty fixed ideas about who was right and who was wrong and what things would look like if she hadn't happened.

Until I came here to Italy, and now, I'm far less sure that the outcome of a weak Thatcher and a strong Scargil would have resulted in something other than a manged, but relentless decline.

It was a hard, horrible, dark, painful time that left me with not a few scars. I still today can't have empty cupboards. I knee jerk buy tins and wood becuase I have a profpind fear of being persistantly cold and hungrey again. However there is no shortage of cold and hungrey people here, who can't find work for love nor money. Unfortunatly this country is not in a postion to bounce back from this crisis to the same degree that the UK is.

It is possible that a Thatcher-esque painful happening in the early 80s would have off set future pain we see here today. And maybe the earlier bitter pill would have meant the country wasn't having to stuff bottlefulls of acrid "medicine" today.

It's bad enough that every single thing I do with my child is aimed at giving him a future outside of southern Europe. Come hell or high water he will be gping to uni or other higher ed in the UK or somehwere like the Netherlands, becuase the hope here is more of less gone. I think the country is now running on fumes and once Monti is put of the picture the usual chaos will reign and the slow decline will just speed up.

So...I dunno, I'm finding that seeing things as part of a larger landscape casts doubt over my previously unchalleneged convictions. Which is an uncomfortable process given how deeply held they are....were ?

Takingbackmonday Thu 18-Apr-13 09:04:13

Scargill DID cause more misery.

Thatcher offered £800million investment,p and another job OR voluntary redundancy package. Scargill said no.

Odious man.

niceguy2 Thu 18-Apr-13 09:44:22

But Thatcher is to blame for the policy that put unemployed miners onto disability benefits to keep them off unemployment figures. A policy that has led to the benefit culture that is causing so much difficulty to the country now.

There is merit in the argument that Thatcher's govt (and she would ultimately be responsible) turned a blind eye to people going onto Incapacity Benefit so the unemployment figures looked lower. But that wasn't aimed at miners. I agree though that this has made it much harder for future govt's, both Labour and coalition to sort the mess out.

But I would argue that changes such as tax credits and DLA have done more to contribute towards the benefits culture than the above. I'm not saying I disagree with the principles of TC's and DLA. Just saying that they way in which they have been implemented and the way the criteria is judged is far from perfect.

WilsonFrickett Thu 18-Apr-13 09:51:10

Left wing miner has links to USSR and communist party - shock!

Neither of these things are illegal in this country, now or in the 70s.

allmycats Thu 18-Apr-13 10:16:25

Scargill was not made homeless by the NUM when they stopped paying the rent on his London flat as it was a 2nd home for him. They had already bought him his bungalow in Yorkshire. Also, he was the one who arranged for himself to keep the London flat for himself after he 'retired'. He has been milking the very people who he claimed to be
'working for' and has shown himself to be the selfish pig he really is.
Yes, I am certainly old enough to know his background and actually worked with a colleague who was 'best friends' with his wife.

VodkaJelly Thu 18-Apr-13 10:19:02

Before the miners strike Arthur Scargill had a big union and a small house, after the strikes had ended he had a small union and a big house.

HumphreyCobbler Thu 18-Apr-13 10:26:10

CarpeVinum your post was very interesting to read, thank you. I have has a similar change of conviction in the last ten years, without your direct experience of Italy though.

As for Scargill, have you heard Neil Kinnock talking about him? I think he considers that Margaret Thatcher was very fortunate in her 'enemy' as he handed victory to her on a plate.

I was very interested in the fact that The Guardian and The Daily Mirror were against the strike he called at the time.

squeakytoy Thu 18-Apr-13 10:49:40

Scargill was a nasty obnoxious little man. He was greedy and out for what he could get for himself.. he didnt really give a shit about the miners.

He deserves to be vilified as much, if not more, than Mrs T has been recently. He was as much, if not more, to blame than she. We will never know what would have happened if he hadn't chosen to react the way he did and whip up a frenzy so that no one worked with, rather than against, the Government. We may even have a thriving, but smaller, coal industry still.

Agree with everything niceguy2 has said.

Vile odious little man. Very glad he didn't make a show of himself recently.

BMW6 Thu 18-Apr-13 12:25:11

My DH is from a mining town in Yorkshire and he entirely blames Scargill for causing a civil war in his community. Union officials organised gangs to beat up those who wanted to continue working or voiced any protest against
union policy, and some houses were petrol bombed while children were at home.
He says Scargill had (still has?) a big place in Barnsley and 24/7 police protection, so the London pied a terre was not his main home.

EldritchCleavage Thu 18-Apr-13 13:51:50

Scargill demanded and got a 'President for Life' title, handsome pension, house given outright and a Barbican pied-a-terre paid-for (again for life) deal on retirement from the NUM.

Quite how he or anyone else thought it could EVER be appropriate for a trade union run to represent and support miners to spend vast sums on one retired official (who didn't exactly cover himself in glory while in office) is a mystery to me.

Don't forget all the miners in that terrible mesothelioma litigation (where they also got defrauded by solicitors) painfully wheezing out their lives waiting for compensation (many in vain). How much respite care and assistance would the sale of the Barbican flat alone have got them?

He took them to court not long ago to keep the deal and lost. Will link if I can find it.

EldritchCleavage Thu 18-Apr-13 13:57:14

OK, I'm wrong about the benefits. They were (the judgment says):

"(A) The Barbican flat. In June 1982 Mr Scargill took a three-year lease from the Corporation of London of a flat on the Barbican estate. The lease was renewable and has been renewed regularly thereafter. The Union agreed from the start to pay the rent and other running costs of the flat and did so - with the exception of one substantial period with which I deal below - for the remainder of his employment; it also continued to do so following his retirement until the quarter ending in June 2011, at which point it declined to make any further payment. The annual cost was then approximately £33,000. Mr Scargill claims that the Union is obliged to continue to pay those costs until his death and that of his widow if he should leave one. Although he says that the flat is his primary residence, he also has a house in Yorkshire.

(B) Fuel. The Union has a tradition of supplying coal to its officials free of charge, and on a life-long basis - reflecting the concessionary coal traditionally supplied to mineworkers and other staff by the National Coal Board (latterly the British Coal Corporation); where the official's home is not heated by coal, a cash allowance may be paid. It is common ground that Mr Scargill is entitled to such an allowance in relation to his house in Yorkshire, which is heated by gas; but there is an issue as to whether his entitlement is capped at the equivalent of the price of ten tonnes of coal or covers the entirety of his gas bill whatever it may be.

(C) Security system. During Mr Scargill's employment the Union paid the annual costs associated with the security system installed at his house in Yorkshire. The issue is whether it remains obliged to do so following his retirement. Payments were in fact made until early 2010.

(D) Accountancy charges. During Mr Scargill's employment the Union paid the cost of the preparation of his annual tax return by its accountants. Again, the issue is whether it continues to be obliged to do so following his retirement"

And it seems previous Presidents of the NUM had had similar very generous housing arrangements. Madness.

somebloke123 Thu 18-Apr-13 14:02:27


"As for Scargill, have you heard Neil Kinnock talking about him? I think he considers that Margaret Thatcher was very fortunate in her 'enemy' as he handed victory to her on a plate."

She was also fortunate to have Kinnock as her opponent.

alcibiades Thu 18-Apr-13 15:30:30

I've been reading the summary and full judgment:

It's a very long judgment, but paragraphs 93 onwards, along with note 25, makes for some interesting reading.

Madondogs Thu 18-Apr-13 15:35:28

I have avoided posting on any of the Thatcher posts but feel I must express my opinion here, as most of it is utterly uninformed Dail mail rubbish.
The clash between the miners and Thatcher was not a simple industrial dispute, it was a clear and stated policy to break industrial unions in Britain to allow the mass de-industrialisation, and allow the concentration on a purely service economy i.e banks and insurance companies.

Someone made the comment that" limitless support " of the mining industry would be unfeasable, yet the limitless support to the banking system has obviously passed them by.

Scargill clearly understood the intentions of the Tory party to break the Labour movement. The closure of the pits was a political act, nothing to do with unprofitable pits. The miners were described as" The enemy within"

The strike, despite being an unballoted had overwhelming support of the majority of miners. Had the strike had the full support of the Labour and trade union movement the outcome would have been completely different.

Scargill could see the political aims of the strike, could see that the livelihoods and communities of ordinary working people were under attack and was one of the few trade union leaders prepared to put up a fight.

As people have said about Thatcher you might not have agreed with everything he did but he was true to the people he represented and a true socialist, a conviction politician.

Following the Miners strike there was a wholesale attack on industrial Britain along with the lifting of exchange controls, the transfer of manufacturing from Britain to ironically a Communist country China, the myth on surviving on an economy of service industries has led us to our current desperate situation.

Working people and the poor are facing another onslaught to pay for the greed and incompetence of the rich but unfortunately there is no one in the Labour or trade union movement with Scargills conviction to defend working people.

NinaHeart Thu 18-Apr-13 15:41:17

I was once present at the same party as Arthur Scargill. Is this a boast of sorts or shall I get my coat?

Binkybix Thu 18-Apr-13 16:10:15

I'm not an expert on this, and was not alive at the time, so have some questions.

Also worth pointing out that niceguy2 has not defended support of the banks either - we don't know his view on that.

Speaking to different people, including some involved at the time on different sides, I understand it was a mixture of declining industry, undemocratic power - some say unfairly wielded - in hands of unions, and political motivation to curb the power of the unions that led to this (as well as two very uncompromising personalities). What is the evidence for and against this? What % of the mines that were closed down were loss-making?

Was a compromise package put on the table?

If the support was overwhelming, why was wasn't it balloted? Did miners in all regions strike? Were those who did not want to strike (including in other industries) really attacked? If this is the case, how would supporters defend this? Would they disregard stories like BMWs DH's?

I have only seen this presented in a black and white way, and it's hard to actually understand it when presented only by people who feel very strongly one way or the other (who are also the people who have most knowledge/evidence, even if that is interpreted using their own particular 'lens') It's rarely the case that one person's version is the true version for something like this - is it more likely it was somewhere in the middle?

HumphreyCobbler Thu 18-Apr-13 16:36:02

Daily mail rubbish? I don't ever read the Daily Mail.

Madondogs Thu 18-Apr-13 17:31:08

There should have been a ballot, but by May 1985 the majority of miners were on strike, and there can be little doubt that a ballot would have had an overwhelming endorsement.
It would have helped strengthen unity amongst the Nottingham miners and strengthen the case amongst those still working . Mostly though it would have forced the leaders of the Labour Party and other right wing trade union leaders to show solidarity to the NUM.
True nice guy did not mention the banking industry... I did because it was posed as completely impractical to support the mining industry, when the banking industry has been subsidised more than any other.
History is complex and needs detailed study, the Tories were preparing for a confrontation with the miners from 1979.
Nicholas Ridleys plans included building up coal stocks, recruiting non union lorry firms for coal transport, cutting state benefits available to striking workers and the creation of a national police force
The NUM was a democratically run union, the miners leaders stood head and shoulders above other trade union leaders at the time, Scargill in particular showed personal courage in supporting his miners in the face of appalling personal abuse and character assassination .
The % of unprofitable pits depends on the price of coal at any given time. At current prices there would be no unprofitable pits.
Energy as we now know us aping term strategical investment, and clean coal technology is still one of the most secure energy sources we have.
There were individual cases of violence during the strike . In some areas ( mainly Nottingham) feelings against those that crossed the picket line were intense.
I was active in my own area ( South Wales) and also picketed on other areas .., the only violence I saw was from the police. Many of whom would taunt the miners with wads of cash, saying how much money they were earning.
As for black and white, right or wrong, it depends on your political views surely.
I saw and live with today the complete destruction of my community. We are still living with the consequences today and will be forever more as it completely changed the fabric of our society
I see the fight that the miners put up as one that any trade union member is entitled to do . Withdrawing your labour is the right of the working class
Hard won improvements to our working lives, health and safety at work and the NHS have all be fought for by the labour and trade union movement. I for one will be in any fight to stop the Tories taking these from us.

nogreythatmatters Thu 18-Apr-13 17:41:48

Scargill thought he could repeat the stunts pulled by Gormley, McGahey and the rest of the NUM in the 70's and try and bring the country to its knees.

The Thatcher government had made provisions to store and access masses of coal, because they did not want a repeat of the 3 day week.

Scargill walked into a trap. Plus not having a ballot undermined his position.

There were lots of mines closed under MT, there were 28% more Deep Shaft Mines closed during Harold Wilson's Premiership.

CarpeVinum Thu 18-Apr-13 17:54:21

Can ypu compare mines and banks though ? Are they apples and apples ?

Coal is a finite respurce,mand even back then there were alternatives and imported sources that cost less (allegedly).

The economy need power, but an achieveble supply of power was attainable without the mines, no ? I remember constant black outs in the 70s when I was a kid, but not in the 80s when I was a teenager.

Banking isn't like that is it ? They can print more money for one thing. And if they go down the risk is they can take the entire finatical system for a nationwide plummets as confidence falls, runs on banks happen etc.

I remember this sort of instability being predicted when they rolled put the Big Bang in the 80s. As far as I am aware there was no cunning plan to roll out to substitute banks and the money they stood to lose if they went belly up thanks to a run. And it seems that the British economy has become very dependant on the banking sector in more recent time, like one pf the major indistries, is that right ?

I dunno, I think banks and mines might be a bit too appley and orangey to make a side by side, like for like comparison.

I wish it was a case of "fine, keep your coal, I will burn wood! and wrestle with these DIY solar panel instructions" with banks. I have been having at least a weekly heart palpatation since the Euro crisis started. Fucking media with their scary headlines regularly telling me I will be using my money to wipe my bum on by Thursday. I'd switch to leaves or conkers as legal tender in heartbeat if I could.

CaffeDoppio Thu 18-Apr-13 18:05:22

CarpeVinum (excellent NN btw!) - your posts, esp your first one, make interesting reading. Sounds like you went though some hellish times but you are now able to analyse the whys and wherefores from a POV that is not totally shaped by an unbending political viewpoint. You live in Italy now? I have Italian friends - they're coming over here in their droves to find work and work where they actually get paid on payday. Times are hard over there - maybe harder than here. Doesn't mean I wouldn't still leave on the next bus if I had half the chance though!

Binkybix Thu 18-Apr-13 18:12:27

It's funny you say that - I was also wondering if you could compare the two industries in such a direct way.

Again am no expert (spot a theme?!) but I grudgingly think it was necessary to help the banks - not for the sake of those working in the industry, but because of the impact globally on many many people if the big clearing houses failed. I do think its vital that banking is reformed so that is never required again, but don't know enough about it to fully understand if EU reform, ring-fencing etc will do that - am not optimistic.

Thanks for replies - will wait and see if any others too.

I don't think we have clean coal tech yet, though (if you are talking about Carbon capture and storage). Am pretty sure no scale demonstrator has been done yet (pre or post combustion), and obvs that would have a huge impact on price of coal. Apols if you were talking about a different tech that I don't know about.

grimbletart Thu 18-Apr-13 18:12:38

Took them 30 years but the miners finally rumbled Scargill.

niceguy2 Thu 18-Apr-13 19:06:59


...people he represented and a true socialist, a conviction politician.

Erm....Scargill wasn't a politician. He was the leader of the NUM and his first duty was to look after their interests. Not score some political point.

Why did he not call a ballot when everyone knew there was the support there? By not doing so, the strike was illegal. Thereby denying his members legitimacy and more importantly financial relief. How was that in their best interests?

I see the fight that the miners put up as one that any trade union member is entitled to do. Correct. As long as you do so within the letter of the law. You can't pick & choose which bits you like and ignore the rest. Striking without a ballot was illegal. And no government should ever give in to illegal behaviour. To do so invites chaos.

Whilst your posts are very eloquent, there isn't a single fact in your posts. It's all conjecture and biased opinion.

You may want to read this article because the facts are:

- Mining was losing over £1.3 billion annually.
- 75% of mines were unprofitable.
- It cost £44 to mine a tonne of UK coal but you could buy it on the open market for £32. The socialist answer? Stop companies from buying foreign coal! WTF!?!
- When Arthur Scargill appeared before a Parliamentary committee and was asked at what level of loss it was acceptable to close a pit he answered “As far as I can see, the loss is without limits.”

Lastly mines are not banks. Losing our mines was not risking our entire economy. We also have not pledged limitless support for banks. The previous govt (rightly) bailed out the HBOS, Northern Rock etc in exchange for equity. The stated aim is we sell them as quickly as we can and if possible make a profit. More likely we'll take a small hit. That is about as far as limitless as you can get. Ignore the sensationalist headlines about the bailout costing us trillions. Because that's all it is. Sensationalism. In fact last time I heard, the 'bailout' of the Asset Protection Scheme was running a small profit.

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