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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?

EldritchCleavage Fri 19-Apr-13 12:55:58

Sorry niceguy, mangled syntax.

I meant I' m not saying that stopping coal imports was a viable or the only viable answer, i.e. I'm not agreeing with Scargill that coal imports should have been stopped.

niceguy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 11:29:43

Not saying stopping coal imports was a viable answer, but I think it important to remember that the coal price was not teh only relevant cost. The social cost of dismantling the industry was massive , and ought to have been taken into account.

Why wasn't it viable? I mean as a nation we were using coal less & less anyway. Why not import it? We import our most of our oil & gas. Why was coal any different?

As for social costs, there of course was a large cost. A cost the government would have had to bear and did do so after they'd 'won' the miners strike and started to slowly close the mines. Redundancy pay, retraining costs, welfare benefits. There was also investments in the more deprived areas.

All the strike did was cause a lot of pain for the miners. And it seems unnecessarily so too. All so Scargill could go toe to toe with Thatcher.

Bosgrove Fri 19-Apr-13 11:26:40

I was too young to really understand what was happening during the miners strike, but I am a coal miners granddaughter, and my Granddad hated what Scargill was doing to the miners.

EldritchCleavage Fri 19-Apr-13 11:15:28

Grovel, seek out the judgments of Millet J-there are some humdingers, principally his demolition of Kevin Maxwell, and of Steven Berkoff in his libel action against Julie Burchill.

EldritchCleavage Fri 19-Apr-13 11:14:14

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!?!

Not saying stopping coal imports was a viable answer, but I think it important to remember that the coal price was not teh only relevant cost. The social cost of dismantling the industry was massive , and ought to have been taken into account.

In the same way that Scargill simply ignored the economic costs of the coal industry as part of his political strategy, I consider Thatcher and the Tories ignored the very real and important social costs of mass de-industrialisation as part of theirs.

But you know, we the public have to acknowledge that we played a role in the political polarisation that Thatcher and Scargill embodied, helped along by a preference for simplistic ideology over realism, pragmatism and social justice. Not much has changed on that score, sadly.

grovel Fri 19-Apr-13 00:15:54

Yellowtip, the only institution I really believe in is the senior judiciary. Over and over again they tell the politicos that they will apply the law as decided by Parliament. They won't make perverse decisions to "suit" the government of the day. When I see a terrorist not deported, I'm infuriated but then thank God we've got judges who tell the government to "do it properly by your own rules". The alternative is unthinkable....

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Thu 18-Apr-13 23:18:41

"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."

Bollox. grin

ShellyBoobs Thu 18-Apr-13 23:05:56

Scargill is a despicable, obnoxious, self-serving cunt.

Thatcher might have had policies which rode roughshod over the small close-knit communities around where I grew up but Scargill provided all the ammunition needed to get enough backing for it.

It's amazing how many modern lefties seem to think that Scargill was a positive thing for the mining communities when those who were there at the time certainly don't think so.

M0naLisa Thu 18-Apr-13 22:44:35

I thought he caused more mayhem them thatcher ever did. He was the main thinking behind her apparently

Yellowtip Thu 18-Apr-13 22:43:04

Nina I was once in the High Court as a very, very junior trainee solicitor with the solicitor who was representing Scargill, and that is a boast smile

The most memorable thing about the hearing was that the opposing side was led by an Old Etonian who very obviously nodded and winked at the judge who happened to have been in the same house at Eton.

The judge still decided for Scargill though, all credit smile (I didn't understand the application at the time, so no chance of explaining it now).

grovel Thu 18-Apr-13 22:32:03

alcibiades, true. I note that the judge in the Scargill case was promoted last week to the Court of Appeal and is now Lord Justice Underhill.

alcibiades Thu 18-Apr-13 20:49:47

I remember the miners' strikes, and wondering how it could be that so many families suffered because they couldn't get any financial assistance from the state, nor, it seemed, much in the way of help from the Union itself. Calling a strike within the rules would have prevented most of that suffering, but presumably Scargill wasn't focussed on that. And presumably he wasn't living from week to week as many mining families were.

And as for him calling a strike when the coal supplies at the power stations had been deliberately stockpiled to very high levels - that wasn't a particularly rational way of advancing the cause.

The graph in the article you linked to, niceguy, is interesting when comparing the decrease in output versus the decrease in manpower. I've got a vague memory of the Coal Board wanting to increase efficiency but that would mean changes to standard practice which the unions opposed - but I could be wrong about that.

grovel - lately, for other reasons, I've been reading various judgments. I don't always understand the technical details, but the impression I've gained is that judges are very, very careful in what they say and write. Not just because of a possible appeal, but because that judgment could form part of case law, which is a very important part of the justice system.

grovel Thu 18-Apr-13 19:56:28

Loved reading that Scargill judgment above. Beautifully drafted by the judge (whether he was right or wrong).

Toadinthehole Thu 18-Apr-13 19:33:05

As I understand it, Scargill should have ballotted the entire NUM before calling a strike. He actually prevented this even being debated. He knew that he wasn't going to win this ballot, so instead he arranged for individual regions to declare strikes and force anti-strike regions into line (and as we all know, force manifested itself in varying ways).

It is hardly relevant to say that had a ballot been held later, he would won it. It is hypothesis. Also, it would only have been a recognition that the success of his tactics, not a properly democratic outcome, as the High Court recognised when it adjudged the strike illegal.

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.

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

Took them 30 years but the miners finally rumbled Scargill.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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?

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?

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.

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