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The Collieries of Wales

 

 

 

Marching To The Fault Line
Francis Beckett and David Hencke

The 1984 Miners Strike And The Death of Industrial Britain.

Pub Constable

ISBN 978-1-84529-614-8

£18-99

 

This book appears with a great fanfare of trumpets and publicity. The Mail gives it a banner headline double inside spread plus a further page and uses it as an excuse to pour vitriol on the head of Arthur Scargill [1] . The usually moderate Guardian hails it too, as well is might since Hencke and Beckett are two of their stars [2] , declaring that the miners didn't deserve to win any more than Thatcher, which might sound liberal if the contest had been a draw. The fact is the miners and their families had invested everything, which flesh and blood and even life could offer, and didn't deserve to loose.  The Guardian email-in website unleashes a flood of totally ignorant comments which clearly demonstrate at least these readers still do not know even the fundamental facts about the strike or the truth about subsequent allegations and libels [3] . 

 This book however recommends itself as groundbreaking, the comprehensive history of the strike with new and secret facts and evidence disclosed.

So how does it match up?

My view of the book changes as it unfolds, indeed I think the authors view of events and the book changes as they write it, but they never go back to iron out the inconsistencies. For this reason, we have loose ends not pursued and left, only to be rediscovered later on but never tied together.  We get some serious research and a breathless exposure of new and somewhat sensational revelations. Using the Freedom of Information Act , previously closed  secret Government and NCB archives and for the first time frank and shocking interviews with many  key trade union and Labour Party figures, government and NCB officials. Some of whom Scargill would doubtless never have thought, would have exposed him in this way. These are new groundbreaking insights. At the same time though, the book is littered with throwaway unsubstantiated statements and assertions, hearsay, gossip, and folk tales. All presented with the same seriousness as evidenced sections. Sources are patchy, the bibliography is slight. For a work of this scope, comprehensive reading and discovery of all existing sources and publications are a basic requirement; as it is the sources are often weak, there are filched pieces taken from other works (my pamphlet on ‘the media' for one) which are unaccredited, although listed in the bibliography. There are bland assumptions and unchallenged propositions. This is in short a ‘history' as told by journalists, not historians, told in the style of a journal vying between serious documentary and analysis and tabloid sensation and bias. As it goes on, the direction and purpose of the book shifts more and more away of any history of the miners and their families and communities in struggle, although to be right this wasn't a major focus in the first place. It moves ever more relentlessly away from the presentation of events, and the behind the scenes actors and action and toward a merciless condemnation of Arthur Scargill. By half way through the book this is a ‘trial of Arthur Scargill, with secret evidence and revelations from his friends, comrades and enemies.'

 

There are serious charges, new charges here against Arthur; the purpose without question is to render all the earlier descriptions of heroism and struggle of the miners themselves futile and nieve. The book has been hailed the definitive history of the 1984/5 strike, more accurately it is the definitive literary assassination of Arthur Scargill as a dedicated and respected leader of the NUM.

It is designed to strike down finally that stand the pit communities made against Thatcher and that free market, anti union, anti working class wing of the Tory Party and New Labour. It is the capture of the memories and triumphs and moral victory of the strikers, and aims at the utter demolition of the strike as a monument to class struggle. It seeks instead to render us  hapless fools manipulated by a self-serving dictator, and worthy only of pity. This is perhaps the definitive way ‘liberal opinion' wishes this history to be seen henceforth. This will be THE  version , rather than a Thatcherite or ‘ leftist' version, which academics and enquirers in future times will turn to for ‘the true, balanced' version of events. 

 

But it will be fatefully flawed, not for the facts it discloses and the revelations it reveals but because this information is forced into a narrow perspective of bias. A bias, which refuses to see the miners and the rank and file as having started the strike, taken all the key decisions on how it was conducted and many of the strategic ones too. That it was sustained and supported as a conscious proactive action. Instead we are given the standard journalist perception spoon fed to the public since the inception of the strike, that Arthur Scargill called, ran and directed the strike and we stupid sods were just the cannon fodder. This preconception cripples the book.

 

 At first, it doesn't appear that way and for the first time in reading a book from a conventional bourgeois source such as this, I'm quite heartened. The book carefully takes us back to 1926. Sets the scene of where the mines and miners stand in history and in relation to the state. It follows us briefly through the 70s and the forces gathering on either side of the forthcoming clash during and after Heath. It's probably impossible to understand the events of 84/5 unless one does this. However, they don't get that right either, leave aside their comments on Cook, who is contrasted as practical and sensible in defeat as against Scargill Canute like and hectoring. They claim for example that during the war “They (the miners) did what was asked of them, with very little disruption except for a strike in 1944 which obtained a national minimum wage..” [4] (An assertion unsubstantiated and wrong).  In fact, miners strikes as a percentage of all strikes during the war was as follows:-

1938 41%

1939 34%

1940 41.3%

1941 37.6%

1942 40.2%

1943 47.2%

1944 57.1%

1945 56.7%

1946 60.3%

 

In 1942 in a five month period March to August 1942 685,000 manshifts were lost. [5]

So from whence comes their judgement on the miners in the war years? Like much else in this book, we aren't told and they invariably are wrong. Indeed half way through the book I gave up noting all the factual errors, and myths they quote. Even where they footnote some of the claims, they are ignorant that there were subsequent counter facts discovered. All that can be said is they quote as many miners and union myths as they do government, press and NCB ones, which shows it aint so much bias on these occasions, as bad research.

 

As we head toward the general background to the strike itself, the reliability of the research gets no better. This in part, is due to a previous misconception; they declare that the NUM in the 40s becomes a true ‘National Union' rather than the ‘confederated' Areas and Constituent Associations of the Miners Federation. It did in name. In practice the Areas and Constituents remained independent, and ‘federated'. If you don't understand that fact, you will not understand how the 84 strike happened area by area, or the meaning of Rule 41 granting areas authority to strike as areas. In fact, it is the huge autonomy of the miner's branch, outwith the autonomy of the area, which marks the industrial struggles of the miners for hundreds of years and so too this time.

Miners will additionally act independently from the branch, ner mind the area. It is that feature which for generations has seen miners down tools and march out on strike in support of fellow workers from other branches, or other areas regardless of the niceties of the rulebook. I know of not one incident where any miners have ever been disciplined or any branch ever been disciplined for responding to rank and file action (although the pro war Officials of the union earned themselves the undying hatred of the rank and file during world war two for trying to impose the rules and the Emergency Powers Act forbidding strikes on point of imprisonment, and a great number of miners were jailed). This is so simply because it is the long standing norm. I say this to demonstrate how in fact strikes happen in the coal industry, and how authority is organised, or ignored.

Again, unless you understand this as a regular feature of the way miners can act you will not understand the way in which 84 developed.

A good case in point was the unofficial national action, which swept the coalfields, and seen flying pickets crossing county borders in 1969. The book implies this action was somehow the result of a national conference resolution moved by Arthur Scargill against the NEC. Untrue, this was an unofficial branch and area action, without a ballot, and without the endorsement of conference. Incidentally, the authors quite stupidly talk about 1969 as being “the first use of flying pickets”. My old delegate Tom Mullanny in a debate with Arthur Scargill on the origins of flying pickets remarks “Well I don't think Arthur is as old as me, but I remember flying pickets coming to Hatfield in 1919, they came from Edlington on a steam bus and they run over Amos's dog.” Flying pickets, well marching, tramping pickets, were ‘turning out' fellow workers across mines and mills and potteries for two centuries and more this is perhaps a mer detail of history. But it illustrates again the unfootnoted unresearched and ignorant assertions of the authors. They go on [6] to assert that the aim of the action, (8 hours for surface workers) “was not achieved”. Actually, it was, but because it was on the point of the industrial action, and against the view of the national officials and the NEC, it wasn't drafted into a national agreement, but verbally agreed that this could be resolved at pitheads. Which meant every branch in the country went away and ‘negotiated' a ‘local' agreement reducing surfacemens hours to 8 hours. So it was in fact successful. Again, let us ask the question why don't the authors know that? It's documented in number of books not least my own written for the National Coal Mining Museum For England [7]

 

We are treated to a number of these throughout the book:-

“Vice President Mick McGahey was the leader of the left on the NUM National Executive, and by the end of the 1970s he and Scargill were barely on speaking terms, for they had so long been rivals for the left nomination for President when Joe Gormley retired. McGahey saw Scargill as the sort of ultra-leftist adventurer that disciplined Communists rather despised”. The source for this is? None, the evidence? None.

 

The book trawls round hearsay and gossip from the course of Scargill's life in order to paint us a derogatory picture of the leader of the NUM as background to the actual subject of the book, the 84 strike. It comes upon the tale of when Arthur was elected President and resolves to rationalise the functions of the National NUM office. He stops the so-called ‘Christmas Bonus' to staff. A bonus which none of the miners who paid their wages got and was entirely ad-hoc and outside of their contracts. He hit the press headlines by demanding that staff record all incoming messages into a central log. Actually the new phone system did it (I believe it was called a Beethoven), and with good reason. The National NUM office in London had become a notorious racket. Staff members were running catalogue and home order businesses from the office using our phones and in our time and the miners were paying the bills. ‘Union' pool cars were being hired out on the side as taxi's and hire services, by drivers being paid by us, the miners. So yes, Scargill did shake things up down in London as the members had demanded he should. Finally, he made good on a long time pledge to fetch the Miners Offices back to the coalfields. Why was the NUM based in London when the pits were a long way from there? London had become the road to hell for our elected officials. Lawrence Daly the one time talented and highly intellectual General Secretary had lost his soul and health in London. Other leaders had lost their integrity. We wanted them back in the coalfields, where we could keep an eye on them. Scargill had canvassed this demand as part of his election programme and it was heartily endorsed. The press didn't give this version of events, and neither do the authors, instead they say the office came to Yorkshire because it's where Arthur lives. [8] Of course, but if he'd done what other leaders had done, he'd live in London, which is where the office was, so what's their point? The London office was costing us a fortune in rates and fiddles and loss of integrity of our representatives. [9]

 

It is clear that the authors set away with a set of preconceived notions of what happened during 84 and the run up. This they justify by quoting not from primary evidence but from earlier books, by writers like them, on this same subject, all of which are faulted. None of the key facts in contention are challenged, or primary and original sources revisited they are just asserted. The authors do not have a clue how the union works, and as such try to fit their preconceptions onto frames, which don't exist. I shall return to these. The sources are also dubious. Having failed to get Scargill in on the research or to speak to them, they declare that Ken Capstick is as near to Arthur's thinking and strategy during the strike as Arthur himself and say as much. They assume Ken, a friend and comrade of mine and Arthur's held some special insight or brief during the strike, he didn't. Ken was simply branch delegate at the new Stillingfleet mine in Selby during the strike and occupied no Area or National Executive committee position, and wasn't party to any of the operations around planning targets and picketing tactics. The authors claim he was a member of the Yorkshire Area Executive during this time, he wasn't.  Ken when he speaks to the writers is simply telling them what other people have told him and recapping on stories and tales which were common currency during the strike though he had no personal involvement with. That's not in any way to criticise Ken, he says nothing wrong. What's wrong is they make him, the next best thing to Arthur on which to test their assumptions , he had and has no authority or brief for that and neither has he ever claimed to have.

 

Thatcher's Mission

 

The book at first ably demonstrates that Thatcher came to power with the vision and a mission. The free market, control of the money supply, dismantling the welfare state and smashing the power of the unions. The unions of course, had a vision and a mission, which was diametrically opposed to hers. A clash was inevitable. To this extent, the presence of Thatcher and her programme, and the existance of the trade union movement preordained conflict was on the cards. The presence or non-presence of Arthur Scargill would in no way affect this fact. Had Arthur not been born, the clash would still have occurred, although obviously it may not have occurred in exactly the same way. Thatcher knew that ‘the storm troops of the TUC' or rather the union movement, was the National Union Of Mineworkers. She had two stated tasks on that front, defeat the NUM as a social force to implement her assault of the unions per sae, and withdraw state support for the massive mining industry, cut it down to levels of unit profitability and privatise it. Meantime break the hold of the unions over energy and transport of energy. This would involve building up private road transport from union controlled rail, and to non-union private haulers. It would involve duel fuel sources into conventional power stations, and the development of long-term nuclear energy to ensure that coal, its miners and transporters and power users could never challenge government and big employers in those strategic fields again. This much is surely agreed, these facts are quoted and illustrated in the book. That being the case how one could possibly draw the conclusion that Arthur Scargill was responsible for the clash and its subsequent devastating outcome? Its clear from the authors own evidence that even if Arthur Scargill hadn't have been born, the miners were in the cross hairs, they truly either fought with a chance they might win, or they surrendered without a fight and lost . The industrial history of Britain, and Thatcher's elaborate and long term planning strategies demonstrate that with or without Scargill she knew the miners would fight and fight like there was going to be no tomorrow. Every page of miners history will point to that conclusion, the opening chapter of this book would point you to that conclusion, but the authors start off with the conclusion first, Scargill caused the strike, Scargill caused the clash, Scargill caused the defeat, Scargill caused the subsequent devastation. At the end of the tale we are told what a good union leader would have done in the circumstances, I won't spoil the story by telling you, but I have a feeling you can already guess.

 

One thing this book does nail to the floor is any notion that the Government were not involved in the strike, the book reveals they ran little else during that 12 months and the whole of society was left on hold in terms of expenditure, policing and much else while they fought the miners. “Sir Robert's memo records that Peter Walker chaired a daily meeting to co-ordinate action during the strike with senior officials from the Home Office, Employment, Transport and the NCB and CEGB. Twice weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays, Thatcher herself chaired MISC101 the ministerial group on coal. Its purpose was to exchange information, give a ministerial steer to the line with the media and work out policy.” [10]

 

In 1981 came the first salvo of the war. Closure plans for anything between 20 and 40 pits are revealed. The blows will fall in South Wales, Scotland, Durham, Yorkshire and elsewhere. There is immediate strike action. No ballot, flying pickets call out pit after pit or else they just strike using their own initiative when the news filters through.

Within days, half the coalfields are out and Thatcher is on the back foot. Their plans are not ready yet, they haven't yet stock piled enough coal, their police operation isnt in place, many pits in Nott's and Midlands walk out too. They decide to buy time and back off. Its Arthur's view that we should press on now while the metal is hot, but that is not the prevailing view nationwide. Gormley is still ostensibly national president though Arthur is president elect. Gormley and some hand picked members of the NEC though not all meet NCB chiefs and David Howell who withdraws the plan. He promises that any future pit closure will go through the normal lengthy consultation machinery. Thatcher declares she wants no fight with the miners. [11] The authors call this a government U turn, Mick McGahey called it ‘a body swerve' we knew they were coming back. It was our ‘red Friday' [12] In the intervening three years another 9 million tonnes of coal was put into stocks. Total stocks by the start of the strike stood at 48.7 million tonnes. [13] But the point is, here was another semi official/unofficial strike driving the bosses and government into a corner, and no ballot. Nobody is crying ‘ballot ballot ballot' because it's the other side that've launched the attack on us, and were simply responding to it. Stopping the assault is seen as the task, not sticking to the terms of rules drawn up for premeditated and long considered action. Oddly, the authors seem to suggest this was a sound strategy and a well played response. They raise no cautionary word on ballots or the lack of them, mainly I suspect because this action and the earlier one in 69 succeeded.

 

The authors make a telling point, but one which they make very little of. Had it not been for the Falklands war, and had she not won it, she is very unlikely to have been re-elected. Thatcher needed that war like nothing else in her career. It is telling that other sources suggest the Foreign office through the good offices of third parties had drawn up a peace formulae, which conceded everything to both sides, and all but signed it. Thatcher hit the roof and sent the fleet. She had to win and win magnificently against ‘the Argies' and stoke up patriotic passions, the flag and getting tough with the unions.

 

When we come to the strike itself. The authors think they have found a major secret.

They think they have found an earth-shattering piece of evidence, which proves the strike was all a mistake. We all know, I suppose that the strike proper started when

(1st March 84 – although actually the book says 1st March 1985 [14] ) George Hayes the South Yorkshire NCB Director announced that Cortonwood would close in five weeks time. This was now a challenge we couldn't ignore. The authors now say it was a mistake, Hayes had misunderstood his brief. He had jumped the gun and lit the blue touch paper on the NUM's cannon. The authors have made an astounding amount of this, small piece of interesting and very marginal aside. So what? The authors go on to say MacGreggor was supposed to announce plans to cut 20,000 jobs six days after Hayes had jumped the gun. Which he in fact went on to do, confirming the suspicions that Cortonwood was the tip of very big iceberg? 20,000 jobs equates to roughly 20 or more mines. [15] The authors claim that Hayes spoiled Mac's national strategy. He had predicted he would make the announcement to the union as a whole. The union NEC would call a conference and a national ballot, we'd loose the strike vote, and the closures would sail through. But by the time of the announcement the troops were in the field, the pickets were already flying and Yorkshire was stood. The strike had started by other direct means. But who says Yorkshire, or Scotland or Wales, or Kent, or Durham and Northumberland, or any of the areas now gearing up for strike action to defend their own mines and those of other areas would have waited for a conference and national ballot? We had already had a ballot in Yorkshire anyway giving authority to the officials to call industrial action if a pit was threatened in Yorkshire. You wouldn't have to be a strategic genius to work out that among the twenty there would be pits in Yorkshire. Even without that Yorkshire Area ballot, branches would have held mass meetings and taken decisions to strike off their own bat. So I believe the authors are making far too much of a small and slightly amusing feature which would make no long-term difference to the outcome of events. Indeed, had things went the way Mac expected and had their been a national ballot without the pickets flooding over the border from Yorkshire its possible Nottingham might have voted to strike. It's doubtful among the 20 not one Nott's pit was included, and Nott's had struck in 1981 against closures too.

 

Incidentally and another aside, the authors point to the inefficiency of the NUM's Picket force, by the story Eric Illsley MP tells them. That he had gathered up the old map from the 72 (they say 74) campaign to help direct the picket to current targets.

The map was out of date and Yorkshire pickets were sent to old already closed targets. Firstly and more importantly, the national office and Arthur Scargill didn't direct pickets, he especially didn't direct Yorkshire pickets. The national office has no mines, and no miners. Pickets were deployed from Areas, totally decentralised at first, then loosely co-ordinated, then directed (in Yorkshire) based upon four self-directing panels for each of the four NCB areas of the region. It was me who sent pickets to already closed collieries because I was working not from some old map but from old NCB yearbooks and calendars, the Nott's Area didn't want to tell me where I should place the pickets surprisingly enough. I cover the whole subject of picketing, rank and file and local control, in Pit Sense Versus The State [16] It wasn't until after the first motorway blockade (Britain's first, and organised I'm proud to say by my good self with the aid of two thousand Doncaster miners, and not inspired by French Lorry Drivers as stated by the authors ) that Barnsley and the Yorkshire Area started to assert control on the direction and freedom of its pickets. This it does by establishing an Area Co-Coordinating Committee on which I represented the Doncaster area. Scargill had established a National Co-ordinating Committee, to channel requests for pickets and establish targets, but it was always a prisoner of fortune and areas rarely responded with more than token force to these requests. Mainly because we believed, our strategies were better than theirs to be frank. It wasn't until Scargill made a national appeal for an all out assault on Orgreave that we, in the Area leadership lost control and direction of our overall strategy. The point of all this is though to contradict another of the author's central assertions. Namely, that Arthur Scargill was organising the picketing operation of the miners, and that he sat behind some big game board and moved us about like tin soldiers on a war game. A total and utter myth, but did they ask anyone? They didn't, its another of their monumental take for granted assumptions. Our picketing operations, according to Mac's own biography were highly effective especially in the first weeks. He goes crying to Maggie asking American style cops to get stuck in and break it up. Then he hits on the second front strategy, firstly getting British Steel / Corus and ISTC to abandon their agreement with the NUM and start using unlimited supplies of scab fuel. This gives rise to Orgreave. Next, he comes up with the strategy of putting a scab into every pit in Britain, not with the view to them actually producing any coal, but purely to force the pickets to fall back into their own back yards. “All you had to do was to make it known that you were going to get men back at a particular pit and all the pickets from that particular area would disappear from Nottingham or the other areas to cope with it” [17] The tactic of trawling up waifs and strays and getting them back to work became a daily chore for the NCB across the country. It threw the onus back on otherwise solid areas and fed the media the steady drip drip of ‘new faces returning to work' daily and sometimes hourly bulletins. The strike was according to the media always collapsing. But the book reveals that NCB chiefs were being fed constant polls and surveys of professional opinion takers testing the waters. The knew it wasn't so.

“On 2nd July Tommy Thompson of ORC (Opinion Research and Communications)

Told his client (The NCB) that almost no miner his team had interviewed thought the NCB would win. Many of them believed the strike would achieve a lot. ‘Six out of ten Durham miners and 49% of Northumberland miners thought they themselves would benefit from the strike.” [18]

 

Kick Starting The Strike.

 

The authors also miss a crucial point of their own evidence. Why, did MacGreggor decide to kick-start the strike in March by confirming the closure programme? As it turned out it matters not for purposes of this question whether Hayes jumped the gun and started the strike around Cortonwood. He himself intended to start a reaction and start a strike ballot, which he thought would loose, but why now? The authors can't answer that without contradicting a subsequent point they make about the overtime ban being ineffective. In fact, it is because the overtime was being thoroughly effective and draining away the stocks, they were so carefully stacking, that it had to be ended by kick starting the strike before our strategy had planned. Thatcher was warned, that if the overtime ban continued through the summer months, (by Sir Walter Marshall from the CEGB) a short strike in the Winter would rapidly shut the power stations and bring power generation to an end. The authors put the coal stocks at 48.7 million tonnes. That's about a years production for roughly a third of the industry, or four months production for the entire industry. Do the maths, an overtime ban staying in place, which caused the stocks to decline and not be replaced, over the period of seven or eight months, followed by a total shut down, or even a major shut down of weeks not months. The writing on the wall and doubtless on quite a few blackboards suggested the stocks would be exhausted and they couldn't get enough from any source to replace them and keep the lights on. That is why the strike had to be kick started. To displace the overtime ban we had in place, to neutralise our strategy, to start the strike prematurely, or according to the authors to lead us to have an unsuccessful ballot. We didn't pick the date to start the action they did. With good reason. So could we have ignored the challenge, let the 20 mines close and keep the overtime ban in place until more favourable times to launch the all out strike action ?

Hardly, with a closure programme continuing through the seven or eight months as we got strategically stronger, we'd have lost twenty and more mines in the process. Or as Dennis Murphy used to say ‘while the grass is growing the cows dying'. We'd have arrived at the optimum period for action but without any logic or rational having allowed more than 20 mines to already close without an all out fight. The members would ask why pit closures should now be fought when 20,000 men had just walked out of the industry without a struggle. The suggestion is of course untenable. It was fight or die as Ken Capstick tells the authors. They on the other hand do not believe any of this, “Unfortunately for the union, it (the overtime ban) was too late to dint significantly the stockpile which had been built up since November 1981” [19]

This throw away conclusion like much else in the book is unsourced and undocumented and unsubstantiated, it is undoubtedly wrong.

 

Joining the public debate, which followed the 25th anniversary of the start of the strike, and the launch of this book Maurice Jones, resurfaces to join the debate. Morris was the one time Communist editor of the Miner, one time comrade of Arthur Scargill.

He calls the “timing of the miners strike a monumental misjudgement”.  Jones of course knows we responded to an attack and didn't in fact pick the time or the issue.

But no, he suggests “left wing members of the NUM's National Executive” agreed to “allow and /or encourage “spontaneous” industrial action, creating an unstoppable momentum” [20] He was listening at the door apparently! But this makes nonesence of the crucial strategy of the overtime ban, which ensured the opposite, he didn't listen hard enough clearly. The point is anyway, it in fact wasn't the Union who started the action it was the NCB. So given that, how should we have reacted. “With mass community campaigns” offers Jones, not strike action, we had to let the pits close, let the men be thrown on the scrap heap, but just to show we were really concerned have mass protests and street campaigns around the issue. Just how you would sit on the clamour for industrial action, or prevent it just happening anyway, we aren't told. But this we are urged should have been undertaken until the odds turned to us, in autumn.

Well thanks comrade, but I really don't think such an idea would have held water, and in fact nobody even suggested such a course of action 25 years ago, even you. Had they done so it would probably have been laughed out of the building.

 

 I make a major feature of this process in my own forthcoming book Ghost Dancers [21] Frank Ledger Director of CEGB operations warned Thatcher that should the overtime ban continue into August (1984) then it was likely that a relatively short strike, “say 12 weeks would be enough to put the lights out” [22] For the government it becomes quite clear that the start of the strike is crucial to their whole counter-strategy. The strike had to be kick started before the overtime ban seriously weakened their stocks and supplies. Where the ban to continue as Frank had feared into August, and perhaps the strike proper had started in the November of 84 the power supply would have failed within weeks, possibly days”. [23]

 

This point is of such vital importance to understanding events that it is worth just making it again this time as illustrated in my book researched for the National Coal Mining Museum For England: Strike Not The End Of The Story.

 

“By October 1984 six months into the strike, the future of the government hung in the balance. There were less than six weeks coal stocks left. Frank Ledger Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), Director of Operations, revealed that they had only planned for the strike to last six months: power supply by this time was “catastrophic”. Former Chairman of the CEGB Sir Walter Marshall spelt out what this meant: “Our predications showed on paper that Scargill would certainly win by Christmas.” [24]

 

“Many people including most trade union leaders thought Scargill had been outmanoeuvred into calling a strike in March, and he would have to struggle to sustain the strike all through the summer before it started to bite in the cold days of winter when a lot of fuel would be needed.” [25] They write this ignoring their own evidence that MacGreggor had planned the announced closure of 20 pits; Mac had chosen the time to kick-start the strike. At the point of repetition that wasn't our strategy, our strategy as demonstrated was winning. Despite them choosing the optimum time to start the strike, they were far from sure from victory and all their advisers told them so. Peter Gregson head of ‘economic Secretariate at the Cabinet Office' chair of MISC57 the states special secret Cabinet Committee which was established in 1981 to take on and defeat the miners [26] prepared  a brief to Thatcher, MacGreggor and Brigadier Budd, of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the Cabinet Office. He told them all, the stocks could last months and weeks, not a year.

Steel had six weeks, the cement industry fourteen to eighteen weeks. Domestic stocks six weeks. The logistics of keeping the power stations going for six months would necessitate using and additional 300,000 tonnes of oil per week. A six fold increase in oil deliveries. An additional cost of £20 million per week. The committee went on to discuss containing pickets and widespread use of employment laws and centralised police operations [27]

 

14th May Peter Gregson at Dept of Energy had sent a blunt memo to Thatcher. The NCB could deliver only 1.85 million tonnes of coal to power stations. There would be huge costs to the taxpayer to keep the power stations going. Gregson's memo revealed that even if the strike was called off at the end of May, the oil-350,000 tonnes of it per week would have to be continued to be delivered until mid-Sept to keep the power stations open. If it ended in June, huge oil deliveries would be needed until Dec, while if it continued to July oil deliveries could not be reduced until March 1985.

“The memo concluded ‘This has serious implications for costs, bearing in mind that the net extra cost of burning oil rather than coal is £20 million per week and that during the recovery period, the CEGB would be buying oil in addition (underlined) to buying coal, so that relevant figure would be the gross cost of £50m  per week.” [28]

 

 This remember is presented in the same breath as saying Scargill was ‘outmanoeuvred' and it ‘was the wrong time'. We knew it was the wrong time, we didn't pick this time, but since it had been chosen for us, we would fight now, as demonstrated that was far from foredoomed and their concerns and panics demonstrate this quite clearly. The authors though choose to walk away from such conclusions.

 

So how did they react to the warnings ? The authors tell us “Like Gregson, MacGregor saw grounds for hope that the strike might be quite short. He told Peter Walker, the Energy Secretary that the strike would be certain to be over by May when deductions of benefits hit miners and their families came into play.” [29] Peter Walker without any sort of shame apparently tells this to the authors. They intended and planned to punish the miner's wives and children in order to break the strike, and they planned this as cold calculated action. The authors are obviously unphased by the ruthlessness of such a plan. They are aware of the £15 deduction from striker's wives and children (a deduction by the way not made from the wives and children of mass murderers, armed robbers or any other criminal) but seem unaware of a whole range of poverty line benefits denied to striker's families, such as Family Income Supplement or Unemployment Benefit in the case of miners who had taken redundancy and got out in large numbers in the run up to the strike. Government circles knew the redundancy money among these older now early-retired miners would help bolster the communities so moved to stop all their benefits too. Along with wives and children, it was designed to create hardship and social community pressure on the strikers. One would have thought the authors would have merited this one of their outraged revelations but clearly not.  By the start of the strike MacGreggor was expressing his faith in a new saviour, not the starving miners families, but a break away movement in Nottingham. “If we could keep this vast and prosperous coalfield going then I was convinced however long it took, we could succeed.” [30] With this in mind, would come unlimited police resources, no holds barred tactics, prevention of picketing, roadblocks, mass arrests, violence, intimidation and second fronts. Ultimately, the creation of an anti union, yellow dog organisation build funded and directed by Thatcher, and MacGreggor and the state counter-insurgency forces. Strangely, while the NUM's lack of national ballot is the cause of great complaint for its lack of constitutionality and unlawfulness, none of the Governments clearly unconstitutional and unlawful action attracts anything like the same moral indignation.

 

 In any case, Scargill did not call the strike.

This myth comes about for two reasons, mainly the press want to believe its true because it fits in with their idea that ‘one man' caused the strike, and that he was a labour dictator who had some sort of magnetic hold over our minds. Secondly, Arthur likes to play up his own importance in everything he was involved in. He tells us that accompanied by Jack Taylor the Yorkshire Area President, he spoke at a packed meeting in ‘South Yorkshire' although he doesn't say where. As I recall that meeting actually had nothing to do with this forthcoming strike. It was in response to another action which had already brought seven pits out, and was in our views of lesser importance that the forthcoming titan which was approaching us. We needed them to focus on the main task.

 

4th March Cortonwood branch voted to strike, and instead of picketing as they could easily have done, submitted a resolution to the Area Council calling for support from the Area, i.e.  for solidarity strike action against the threatened closures. If I recall correctly there were three other strike resolutions on the agenda that day including one against a pit merger, and one about a snap time dispute (These were the subject of the meeting in South Yorkshire mentioned earlier). We voted that we would recommend support for Cortonwood and leave the other issues on file. The decision to strike however could only be taken by the members, regardless of the previous ballot decision. We had to seek endorsement that this issue was the one on which we would strike. The book, quoting Ken Capstick obviously speaking off the cuff, gives the impression ‘we' i.e. the delegates off our own bat, and without mass endorsement of the membership “embarked on a strike in Yorkshire”. We embarked on the process, which would lead to that action, but the decision was made and could only be made by the members en-mass and at large themselves. [31] March 7th MacGreggor meets the NEC announced 20,000 job losses and over 20 pit closures. Council proposed we would strike from March 9th, effectively from Sat 10th but that would be the first day branches could meet to endorse the action or vote against and that all branches would be called upon to support that call. An emergency meeting of the Area Executive Committee was convened after the area delegate council meeting if my memory serves me right and we unanimously agreed to call on branches to take strike action from midnight on 9th March. My own pit met on March 10th and 1800 men turned up to it, as well they might, with the TV screens announcing a show down. With all the clubs interrupting the turns to announce the meeting, and with loudspeaker cars touring the villages. We voted as did all the other pits in Yorkshire To strike with Cortonwood and until the total closure programme was withdrawn. (3 against)

 

Arthur now tells us it was he, who drew up a resolution, to put to the Council meeting, which called upon Yorkshire to strike, he gave it to Jack Taylor, he says. As if, Jack Taylor the Area President needed to be told how to draft such a resolution. In fact, the decision of Council came directly in support of Cortonwood's own resolution, whatever Arthur may have written on the back of a brass band programme at the Band Festival in Sheffield that Sunday evening. Both the press and Arthur himself often think he is of far more importance than he actually is to many situations.

 

From March12 every pit in Yorkshire was standing, with the mass enthusiastic support and votes of the members. These were the facts. However, the book announces (fly cover) that Arthur Scargill called on the miners to strike and made that call on March 5th.  i.e. the day after Cortonwood struck. This was the expression of his opinion; it had no constitutional wieght and could influence no one. The Cortonwood Branch, (Arthur Scargill isnt in the Cortonwood Branch,) tabled the motion for Yorkshire to strike, it was presented to The Yorkshire Area for debate, on Monday 5th March and the Cortonwood men lobbied the meeting.  Arthur didn't make any recommendations or speak at the crucial meeting because he wasn't in Yorkshire, he was National President and didn't attend Yorkshire Area meetings. The decision to strike was made at pitheads, by the members over the weekend of 10-11 March; Scargill wasn't present at any of them.  So whatever Arthur may or may not have said to the media it was not Arthur Scargill who called The Strike. Arthur had no means of ‘calling the miners out on strike' miners do not get called out on strike except by their mates. The NEC met on the 8th March and ruled that it would endorse as official, strikes against closures in Scotland and Yorkshire which ,they presumed it must be said, because at this stage only Cortonwood  (in Yorkshire) was strike at that time on this issue, would result from the branch meetings over the following two days.

 

Incidentally, ‘The Yorkshire Area' did not sanction pickets going over the border in Nottingham prior to the Nott's ballot. This was a totally unofficial Doncaster action, which I as elected Picket Planner for the Doncaster NUM Panel, did not plan or approve of. It was a spontaneous flush of enthusiasm with probably more than a hint of involvement by the SWP ‘hole in the wall' gang from Armthorpe pit, tearing off to kick start the picket. Actually, we had elaborate plans for picketing and didn't need the wildcat which at this time was unhelpful in my view, but it wasn't planned by any formal structure of the NUM at any level, unless one calls the Miners Welfare Clubs part of the ‘Yorkshire Area'. Even more incidentally, the Durham Area of the NUM was not as stated by the authors a militant coalfield, prior to the 84 struggle.

It had been decidedly moderate post war and violently opposed to Arthur Scargill and militancy. It was only the advent of the ‘two Davies' (David Hopper and David Guy)and the  successful work of the Broad Left in the coalfield from the mid-70s, as well as events themselves of course which changed the path of the Durham (and Northumberland ) Areas from the period . I mention this because again, it is an incorrect assertion without any sort of evidence or substance. Anyone who knows even a brief history of the NUM knows this to be the case.

 

What do we make of the following:-

“If you sent large numbers of men to picket the mines where work was still going on, surely miners would be ashamed to cross the picket line. That was the way it had always worked. ‘Scab' was still the most offensive thing you could say to a miner. If proof was needed, surely the crucial picketing of Saltley in 1972 provided it.”  We must ask, if the authors realise that Saltley wasn't a mine, that the people being picketed were essentially non union private drivers, taking coke from an import yard, and not miners. So how does anything in this passage make sense? Unless of course they think, Saltley was a mine with scab miners in it and mass picketing and shouting ‘scab' closed it. How else can we make sense of it? [32]

 

Another of their foolish assertions is that Arthur Scargill was drawing close to the WRP, and The Newsline was the only paper he was prepared to help [33] Actually in

Oct 83. The Workers Revolutionary Party launch  amassing attacks upon Arthur Scargill, in particular his views on the Solidarity union in Poland. Arthur like many on the left believed this ‘union' to be a ‘scab' union insofar as its aim is the downfall of the ‘Polish workers state' and its allies are Regan, Thatcher and every enemy of the workers movement world wide. WRP along with many Trot and ‘third camp' organisations support Solidarity as a genuine attempt by workers to form an independent fight back organisation free of the party and state. I issue a four-sided ‘Open Letter' in response. The paper Newsline had launched daily attacks on Arthur, the leadership of the NUM and in many ways the union itself. In many ways Arthur was set up for a public kicking as they requested his view on Solidarity knowing damn well he would condemn it and they would leap to its defence and ‘expose' him. They held onto this coup for six weeks until the TUC conference when they let it burst on the scene just at a time when the Bourgeois press was raving about Arthur's attempt to guarantee support for the impending action with the NCB and the Government. It was seized upon as a rope to trip us at the first hurdle. For my efforts, Mike Bander ruthlessly condemns me in a massive article in Newsline by the National Secretary of WRP and up until this point a regular visitor to my home. Two years later the WRP implodes and Bander retraces his steps to Stalinism.

 

The authors raise questions about whether rule 41 was appropriate i.e. endorsing area strikes as official, which was allowed but rule 43 said national strikes could only be called by national ballot. What we had here was an area seeking the support of another area by picketing and requesting solidarity action. It could become defacto national. The NCB was attacking us Area by Area, it was sensible initially at least to test resistance Area by Area. The point for us was fighting pit closures, taking strike action and solidarity to halt the government and NCB in its tracks, did it matter how we achieved that goal if we achieved that goal? By 15th March only 21 pits out of 174 were working [34] By contrast, the authors choose to report that “By Mon 12th March only half  the 184,000 miners were on strike” [35] Em. But that was the first day of the strike in Yorkshire. 160,000 were out three days later!

 

The vexed question of the ballot is of course raised with gusto by the authors but its unclear they understand the process that endorsed that as official NUM policy.

They tell us [36] “Early in the strike Trevor Bell spoke at Sheffield City Hall and advocated a national ballot…'that didn't go down well with a lot them' he says.

But what was this gathering ‘at Sheffield City Hall'? The authors don't tell us, they either don't know or they are being deliberately misleading. In fact, it was a National Conference on this very issue of a ballot. Every branch in Britain had voted on whether or not to have a ballot, every area had debated whether to have a ballot. Now this is the crucial issue of just who ‘denied the miners the right to have a ballot'. Amazingly it isnt addressed, and I don't think the authors actually know. They think, because, that's what every one of their colleagues think, Arthur Scargill made that decision. He didn't.  The conference was convened to consider a rule change in a national ballot, with the proposal to drop the requiring endorsement for national strike action to a simple majority from the existing 55%. This proposal is preparing the way for a national ballot on strike action. All the subsequent polls, and at least one is quoted in this work, predict the strike ballot if held would be won . The Yorkshire Area had met on 19th April and unanimously approved this rule change, and we would be voting for it at the National Conference in Sheffield. The second issue was whether we should in fact hold a national ballot. Twelve branches voted for an amendment that we do have a ballot and this got twelve votes the rest against. When the motion unamended is put, that we don't have a ballot the vote is unanimous. Arthur Scargill wasn't at the meeting, didn't vote didn't speak. When the issue went to conference, Arthur Scargill was in the chair, i.e. doesn't have a vote and is neutral. When the issue of the voting requirement on the rule change comes up Roy Link from the Nottingham Area is against a simple majority in a national ballot. Speaks and votes against it. So we see here, the seeds of a new complaint even suppose a national ballot was held, a majority isnt sufficient it has to be a 55% majority otherwise they very likely wouldn't have recognised the result of a national ballot. A collective vote of 187 was in favour, 59 against, and 2 abstentions. [37] Scargill says he and the other officials rough calculations predicted a ‘yes' vote on the question of a national ballot.

“We were expecting and had prepared for that course of action, with posters, ballot papers and leaflets. A major campaign was ready to go for a “Yes” vote in a national ballot” [38]

 

 On the issue of holding the national ballot there, were four different resolutions each proposed by one area and seconded by another.

The Kent Area opposed holding any ballot, and this was seconded by Yorkshire by Jack Taylor the Area President making what was probably the finest speech of his life. Supported later by my good self.

 

Scargill didn't speak for or against any of these resolutions he was in the chair and there was no NEC recommendation. The vote was put the Kent resolution gained 69 in favour and 54 against. Scargill of course didn't vote on it either. So those are the facts, none of which, I repeat none of which are quoted or reported in this so called comprehensive and definitive book on the strike. Miners, miners on strike and miners working, by striking areas and none striking areas made that national conference decision. It is the democratic vote of the NUM arrived at after debate, discussion, and exhaustive voting. We call that democracy. Historians, industrial tacticians, and armchair generals in room a long way from that battlefield have debated how wise that decision was. That's debatable perhaps, but what isnt debatable is whose decision it was. It was ours the members and not Arthur Scargill's.

Despite this and the authors don't deem it necessary to research any of this or record who or what was said and which areas voted each way and why. It's irrelevant to them because they endorse an entirely invented version of history. Namely, that Arthur Scargill decided not to call a ballot. The claim is made ad nauseum throughout the book and a great number of tactical and philosophical hats and overcoats are hung upon its tiny nail.

 

Writing in the Guardian Maurice Jones, former editor of the Miner says the decision not to hold a ballot “...was a monumental misjudgement, ultimately tearing mining communities apart. I know I speak with the benefit of hindsight and that apologies are unfashionable today, but I want to say sorry for my part in a tragedy that stretched miners loyalty and heroism beyond the bounds of common decency.” [39] So this is the old story that Scargill presumably decided there wouldn't be a ballot. Jones if he uses a little more of that hindsight, will recall thats untrue the eventsare as I've stated. But what anyway is he suggesting by way of counteracting Thatcher and MacGregor?

Id rather apologies for a mistaken fighting strategy than a lie down and die one. Maurice has lost track of the fact that this strike belonged to us, the miners, not the leadership.

 

McGahey V Scargill?

 

Throughout the book, there is a concerted effort to break Mick MacGahey's position from that of Scargill's. To present the two men as almost entirely at odds, on tactics and approach. Now that Mick is dead God rest his soul, the authors and lots of hear say are free to make merry on this subject. The books alleges “The truth was that Mick McGahey had had to work hard to get the Communist Party to endorse Arthur Scargill's ‘no ballot' position, and the party later regretted its endorsement.”…”It is almost certain that in his heart, McGahey knew the ‘no ballot' policy was mistaken but kept his own council…” [40] But it was Mick who proposed to the NEC that the question be put to the union as a whole, for members, branches and areas to decide.

The authors allege, “They (the right wing of the NUM NEC) knew such a conference would be dominated by the left-wing areas, and the ballot proposal would stand no chance.” [41] BUT and the authors still cannot see this, that would mean the majority of the members in the union had voted NOT to have a ballot, and that would be THEIR view. Unless there is some suggestion the question wasn't referred back to the members at large which given the state of involvement of the rank and file throughout the union at this stage would be clearly stupid. Apart from the fact that the area voting, as recorded here doesn't fall along, ‘left/right' designations. “There was never any realistic chance that the conference would insist on a ballot against the Presidents opposition…” As stated and the conference verbatim reports confirm, Scargill did not express any view on this matter at Conference. Scargill wasn't present at any of the Council or Executive meetings in the coalfield, and there was no means by which his view whatever that might have been, and none of us knew what it was, could have been made known. The NEC made no recommendation, and left the issue open. How then could Scargill have expressed this opposition? Truth is and facts are he didn't. We were preparing the ground FOR the ballot. As stated, the members thought the decision on a ballot was a get off the hook free card for the NEC Scargill and myself included.  As to the earlier assertion as to what Mick felt ‘in his heart' is based purely on speculation and not fact. The question of the ballot is of crucial importance, because it demonstrates WHO took the decision, Arthur Scargill or the members, all the evidence, proves it was the members. Whether this was tactically sound is another issue, the facts are IT WAS NOT Arthur Scargill's Decision. Like the strike itself, it was ours. Books like this one seek to distort and misrepresent those basic facts.

 

There is another related point, which is why did the majority of miners reject the notion of a national ballot? The authors do not even address this question because they don't understand who it was who made the decision. Briefly two reasons, one the fact that the areas calling for ‘a ballot' had previously demonstrated that every time a conference decision went against them, they ignored it, when ballot was held and they lost they ignored it. And secondly  the rank and file on strike, with the wind in their hair and pushing all before them, thought this was a trick by bureaucrats and ‘leaders' to do a Pontius pilot on them. Allow the rank and file to vote down the action so that we left and pure could say, we fought but the members didn't have the belly for it'. They thought we in the leadership were going to sell them out. When I came to a mass meeting of miners and their wives at Hatfield, with a proposition that we might want to hold a ballot, they nearly shouted me off the stage and hung me from the rafters. The vote ‘NO' was unanimous and home made placards proclaimed ‘No Sell Out, No Surrender' and they sang heartily ‘Push Your Ballot Up Your Arse' to the unlikely tune of ‘Bread Of Heaven'. The point is not just to tell a tale, but that it demonstrates clearly whose decision that was.  Personally and in retrospect we now know, the other side, the Government and NCB and all its allies were terrified we would hold a ballot, because we would have won it and derailed all the elaborate scab herding, strike breaking operation they were putting into place. The evidence for this is also found in the book. (NOP 31st March) Gregson warned MacGregor of the forthcoming conference on the issue of the ballot “There is just the possibility that Scargill will seek agreement at the conference for a snap ballot” MacGregor thought that Scargill would strengthen his central control and ‘stifle dissent' and the government must be ready to counter him.”  “It will be necessary to exploit this fully in the media in the hope of alienating Scargill from the rank and file miners and from public sympathy generally.” [42]   These remember if we had voted to actually have the ballot. That the media would be unleashed in a monumental campaign to influence the miners and their families to vote against the strike. We of course would have no mass media or propaganda machine such as the one they had full use of. Despite this, it is clear they all knew there was strong evidence we would have won a national ballot. On reflection one wonders if we should indeed have called that snap ballot they so feared, perhaps at the end of July when clearly the vast majority of miners had been won to the cause. The fact is though this was truly the rank and files call. Talk of a ballot especially from their own leaders was seen as a sign of weakness and impending treachery.

 

What is clear from the book, although very little is made of it, is that one of Mac's responses to a successful strike ballot would be to plough on with the manufacture of the blackleg organisation and the division. To permanently entrench the split and consolidate the scabs outside the NUM organisation, regardless of any ballot result. within what became the UDM. Walker, Thatcher, and Lord Falconer agreed on this course and set about legal procedures with top lawyers to bring it about.  Although they seen this as a marginal strategy at this time (July) the thinking was clear. What is not drawn out from this though, is that the scab operation would continue, regardless of any national ballot, or its result. It skittles sideways all of the author's central focus on the ballot question, but they seem unaware of the implications. [43] Thatcher's team debated bringing forward a redundancy scheme while the strike was in operation, and defeat any strike ballot. Then realised that the people accepting the package would be the ones to vote against the strike and thus they would be assisting the numerical opposition to the closures. [44]

 

One of the chief claims made by the book is that the ‘NUM' i.e. Scargill is what they mean by ‘The NUM' mishandled the media. That we didn't play ball with them, that we didn't have a specialist press officer to field and handle the media. That the government had elaborate PR and media manipulation in place, and we didn't respond on that front.  Although there is some truth in the observation, they are mistaken insofar as they insist on thinking of the strike as a nationally planned and nationally run operation. It was never really that in the sense that they mean it. But we did indeed need a press officer, and we did need a media response. How far it would have been effective is limited by the fact the media, almost without exception stood with the government. Took its orders and its banner headlines from the government. The media was clearly an arm of the anti strike, anti NUM operation but we ought to have offered our view more determinedly. That we didn't was due entirely to the way in which the press treated us when we did talk to them and did allow them into our communities. Universally they used it against us, at least in terms of headlines, sound bites, and TV news. This was not the case with documentary makers, any serious in-depth report for any media ended up in support of the miners cause. There were also brave but small scale attempts at creating our own news bulletins and TV through Platform Films and sympathetic filmmakers like Chris Reeves. We are chastised by the authors for not using ‘sympathetic' journalists like Paul Routledge, of The Times. Paul had offered to leave the position on the Times and edit The Miner, but Arthur had turned him down. Perhaps then, that's the reason why years later, Routledge would write the biggest personal character assassination on Arthur Scargill since the Cook Report, in the form of an Unauthorised Biography. A book so full of inaccuracies you could fill an entirely new book with them. A man who made an apology to the Queen God Bless Her, because he had earlier counselled when she opinioned that the strike ‘was all the work of one man' that it was more complicated than that ma'am. He was later to tell her she was right and he had been wrong. So perhaps it's as well we didn't take the authors advice and we too were right first time round. History showed we already had enough knives going between the shoulder blades without paying for another.

 

There are numerous errors throughout the book. “The women's groups received no funds from the NUM” [45] Actually funds from all sources were allocated to kitchens and relief teams based on the number of miners and their families they served.

Women's groups were generally welfare or picket orientated, they raised their own funds for both, but the women's picket operations were self-financing. They frequently paid women the same picket fee (about £2 per day) as the men were paid by the NUM. In terms of legal support and representation, the NUM facilitated this along side the men. None of this is as described in the book.

The book comments “women were sometimes in evidence on the picket line…but less so than might have been expected.” [46] Given the level of gross crudity and brutal stupidity of the armed and vicious riot police facing down pickets with clubs, dogs, horses hermits big boots and riot shields, one wonders what sort of reasoning the authors  are applying here. Most blokes, the vast majority of blokes on strike never went near a picket line.

 

A Dead Loss?

 

So is the book of any value? Yes it is, oddly it goes on to expose the extreme vulnerability of the power stations, power supply, the NCB, and the whole government shooting match. The facts it discloses flatly contradict the earlier pre-conclusions and conclusions on the ability of the miners to pull this off .The effectiveness of the picketing or the over time ban or the strike itself.

 

In some northern and coalfield areas power workers were not accepting scab fuel, many were not producing power, though this was a closely guarded secret throughout the strike and one we ourselves were unaware of. The authors don't follow this line of enquiry as to how effective the power station pickets were. The fact is they held the key to the whole strike. All that was required was the power workers across the country did not use scab fuel. The book reveals that Scargill met with the TUC leaders and the leaders of the strategic unions involved, and asked simply for respect of our picket lines. David Basnett leader of the GMBU the principle power union, and speaking for the TUC delegation “said he could not accept the demand to respect picket lines. It would divide unions without achieving its objective.” [47] After hours of discussion prior to the TUC conference, they agreed they would stop moving and using scab fuel if it had the support of the TUC. On the floor of the conference Gavin Laird, and John Lyons of the engineers, Bill Sirs of the steelworkers, and Eric Hammond of the electricians all spoke and voted against respecting picket lines. Basnett's GMB voted for it, but the authors declare, “It was of course meaningless, because it was undeliverable...” [48] But why, we are not told. Given that, the victory of the miners in 1972 and 1974 came about not because the miners had held a national ballot, as the authors seem to think, but because the pickets were respected across steel plants and power stations, wharfs and transport. Why was it not deliverable? In straight practical common sense terms a decimation of the coal industry was bound to lead on to the destruction of steel and power generation. The closure of coal-fired power stations meant, power workers at those stations on the same dole queue as the miners. We weren't asking for some act of super human selfless indulgence.  The authors do not understand that solidarity is the life's blood of trade unionism, the miners were asking for nothing more than their fellow trade unionists not to burn or use fuel produced by scabs or transported by strikebreakers. We were not demanding solidarity action as such, workers in all industry were allowed to use the fuel they already had, just not replace it with strike breaking replacements.

 

They Really Do Not Understand

 

If anything demonstrates the big gaps in the authors basic understanding of the strike and what actually occurred it comes on their chapter on Orgreave. The question of Orgreave is of course a key and strategic one. We've debated this ad-infinitum and I've likewise written on it extensively, and did long interviews and the overview for the Battle Of Orgreave the award winning Jeremy Deller reconstruction and TV history of the battle. Its not that they don't notice me, or Deller (winner of the Tate Prize inter alia on this subject) but that they miss the key events about the action never mind the debate. It is my view and has been since the days of the battle of Orgreave that the target was a diversion set up by MacGreggor with the help of the BSC (Corus) and the outright enthusiastic collaboration of Bill Sirs and ISTC and with the collaboration of the bulk of the ISTC membership. MacGreggor goes on to admit this much in his own autobiography. Big Mac was of course still on the BSC itself and could still wear a director's hat.

The authors suggest, “At the start of the strike, pickets were not troubling much about Orgreave.” [49] Yes, that's because we had an agreement with the steel unions only to run token amounts of coke into Scunthorpe steel works. Orgreave was supplying small amounts of coke under NUM exemptions.

Police drew more and more pickets from Nottingham to Orgreave by successful roadblocks. Say the authors and on a minute scale, this was true. Orgreave was a ‘if all else fails'  target, a fall back picket just to keep it covered, pickets failing to get into Nott's  went there instead. But it wasn't the police who made Orgreave THE major target. Not until Sirs and BSC decided to break the agreement on exempted tick over supplies of union sanctioned coke. They decided they would no longer respect the strike and the pickets and go into full steel production getting their coke from both ports and Orgreave and Iron Ore from the Immingham docks. They then set off with daily fleets of lorries to carry coke from Orgreave through the heart of strike torn south Yorkshire and into the steel plant at Scunthorpe. That's what caused the mass picketing at Orgreave. Strangely this little fact isnt mentioned, because I believe they don't know about it. The men from my pit,  picketed the railway bridge at Immingham and stopped all supplies of coke and iron ore from the docks to the steel works. In time, this led to two national dock strikes and a near surrender by Thatcher now facing generalised strikes of transport, rail, shipping, docks and mines.

The Immingham TGWU dockers breaking the blacking and their own National Dock Labour Scheme by allowing the scab minerals to be moved by non-dockers onto non-union scab lorries and into the steel works lost that moment. It also led to a fleet of iron clad coal lorries under mass police protection fleeing through the coalfields twice a day. That was what caused Arthur to direct all pickets to Orgreave. He didn't have the authority to do that by the way, but the pickets off their own bat followed this instruction, and supported by the left who thought Orgreave was Lourdes they encouraged all pickets to ignore our direction to the scab coalfields and go straight to the plant. Sometimes pickets would cover themselves by announcing they were blocked by policed from getting through. In truth, Arthur staged a sort of tactical coup and for the first time won control of all the pickets in Britain. That's how Orgreave happened, and it happened to open up a second front against our crucial picketing operation in Nott's and the Midlands, and the even more crucial fight at the power stations. I will be exploring these subjects at length in my own book, but we will get no help in that direction from this book, because frankly they do not know what happened.  They put Bill Sirs decision to accept scab fuel and break the miners strike in Chapter five, after the Orgreave chapter, as if Orgreave had nothing to do with steel and Sirs. The tactical and historical chronology thus makes nonesence of actual events. These facts are actually in the book .Gregson told Thatcher and the NCB they would make Llanwern and Ravenscraig a trial of strength, getting fuel into the plants, defeat of the blacking operation would be a “substantial” blow against Scargill. [50] This further demonstrates that breaking the agreements with the NUM to provide tick over fuel to the plants, was a deliberate and calculated design. That opening up the steel workers to scab fuel was a deliberate strategy of opening up a second front against the strike. This could only come about with the complicity of Sirs and ISTC the Company and the Government. The authors clearly misunderstand the significance of the whole process. The unloading of scab fuel by non-union dockers at Hunterson for Ravenscraig, for example. The book quotes Tebbit as stating that this was a key turning point of the strike, “if the dockers had come out and called a national strike, we would loose.” But the fact is down at the Immingham operation to get scab fuel into Scunthorpe steel works, that's precisely what did happen. The authors though don't mention this until pages after the references to Hunterston, as if the two events are unrelated. This is what I wrote on the issue

“Dockers had launched a national strike after their colleagues at Immingham had sanctioned the use of non union labour to unload coal. This became necessary because rail workers respecting an NUM picket line blocked coke and iron ore imports to the Scunthorpe steel works. A method to break the boycott was arranged using fleets of privately owned lorries. The system could only work if dockers unloaded the minerals or allowed non-dockers to do it. For a period, they refused both, but then under heavy pressure they allowed non-dockers to load up. This effectively breached the long established National Dock Labour Scheme and brought about a national dock strike, which was to cause a national crisis that could potentially have brought the miners victory.” [51] Contrast this to the authors and Ravenscraig/Hunterson

“So they made their arrangements and ensured that other dockers would unload them, under the eye of a non TGWU superviser.This was absolutely forbidden by the Dock Labour Scheme….breaking those rules was one of the many body blows to union power suffered during the strike. At any other time, the contravention of the Dock Labour Scheme would have been a major story, but in the middle of the miners strike it passed practically unnoticed.” [52] Then they don't mention Immingham, Scunthorpe, or the relation of both to Orgreave and the whole plan. It's down there as an unrelated event with Immingham coming along unrelated four pages later. Was it the fact that the Scottish dockers having unloaded scab fuel for Ravenscraig without any action from Scottish NUM pickets, or their own union, that the Immingham dockers at length discovered the breach had already been made and caved in too? We don't know, the book doesn't deal with this at all. They gave the actual dock strike resulting from the Immingham collapse (July 9th) three paragraphs. Its stands in absolute isolation from the previous unrelated piece on Hunterston without juncture or analysis. The book notes that David Normington pps at the Department of Employment to Andrew Turnbull Maggie's private secretary – that the dispute must be settled quickly ‘and in favour of the union' there was panic in the Cabinet “in the event the strike fizzled out by 21 July”. [53] I think it was the authors who ‘fizzled out' and have been incapable of joined up thinking and analysis on this whole issue of steel, docks, Orgreave and government strategy. This is another major flaw in the book.

 

Three months into the strike and by Chapter 5, the authors conclude there is already no way of winning the strike. But then the rest of the book contradicts this conclusion.

ORC (government commissioned opinion poll) in July recorded that 8 out of ten miners “were certain” they would not go back to work in the next weeks, and that the NCB would loose. [54]

 

On the 18th July in talks brokered by Stan Orme, between Mac and Scargill at The Rubens Hotel, the two sides came within a wisp, actually a word of agreement.

The problem for all of us was Thatcher who dictated in turn hot and cold during negotiations, kept switching from her need for a settlement, and her desire to crush the miners. Mac left to his own devices actually conceded much of the NUM's case, until suddenly grabbed from behind by direct representatives of the Cabinet. The talks had progressed to the point where the only sticking point was around the term ‘beneficially' developed.  i.e. that all coal reserves which could be beneficially developed would be so. Scargill and union obviously saw this as meaning ‘economically' in terms of the NCBs profit and loss yardstick. In other words, ‘uneconomic pits would close'. The point of the strike. The NUM tried to remove the word ‘beneficially' from the agreed text, but the NCB insisted something which addressed the question of ‘loss making pits' would have to take its place, so there is no doubt what they meant by ‘beneficially developed'.  The authors and many commentators before them have said this was the nearest to victory the NUM could hope to get. ‘That a pit would not be closed so long as reserves could be beneficially developed”. That this was a long way from the previous position that they would be closed if they were ‘uneconomical'. Nevertheless, frankly it would have represented a draw. It would have left us exactly where we were before the closure list. It would have left the door open to future negotiation pit by pit, area by area, but with the management in control of what ‘beneficially' meant to them, and the threat of renewed action from us if we failed to agree. Had we come this far, at such cost to simply go back to the pre-strike battle lines? Scargill thought it was not a commitment to ensure the survival and expansion of workable reserves. In truth all the armchair commentators and allegedly ‘skilled and seasoned trade union negotiators' that have been wheeled out to say Scadge should have signed, admit it would simply be an exercise in gloss, a way off a hook, a means of looking like you achieve a great victory but knowing you actually haven't.  The TUC we are told was now blaming Scargill for the failure of the talks. That these form of words would have allowed us to proclaim a victory. “Had Scargill been a proper negotiator, they said, he could have grabbed the chance before Thatcher had time to whip it away from him. The EMA leader John Lyons, who always maintained that Scargill had been offered the nearest thing to a victory that any trade union leader can ever expect, most forcibly expressed this view. ‘It was 95 % of what they were after' [55] Did we want a draw in July with the first seven months of the year already gone and autumn on the way?  In August, the supplies of coal were becoming scarce throughout the UK and especially in Ulster. Rising electricity prices were threatening to hand the miners a PR victory we were looking for. Supplies in Northern Ireland were said to have “dried up completely”   [56] and they had gone over to oil at an excess price of £800,000 per month. They were debating raising Ulster electricity prices by 3-4% to cover it, with all would entail in bad publicity and protest. “Contrary to public statements, (the strike) was biting already, even in high summer.” [57] Its clear Thatcher needed a settlement. When we refused to settle, the government then decided to turn the heat up on Scargill as an individual, and let the press hounds loose. Press conferences were convened “Ministers had launched a crusade to destroy Scargill and all he stood for.” Walker “This is not a mining dispute. It is a challenge to British democracy and hence the British people.” The signal to the press barons was now to unleash a deluge of black propaganda against Arthur and the pickets and the union in general. [58] Then follows Maggie's ‘Enemies Within' speech, a declaration of war on the coal communities, in which members of the Cabinet lined up to condemn the strike and its leaders across the whole of the media. That this was orchestrated and fed to a compliant media is established in the book. The line was that Scargill was asking the impossible, no closures nomatter how expensive the unit of coal production. But neither the authors now, nor the government then, actually considered that British coal had the lowest operating unit costs on average of any of the deep mined coal industries in the world, and particular of Europe. British taxpayers subsidised through the EEC all the coal producing countries of Europe to help offset their high cost production to allow it to come back to Britain, subsidised and ‘cheaper' to displace the lower cost British coal. This wasn't about import controls, or being anti European. It was about recognising what game was being played here; the attack on the coal industry was cover for a concerted attack on the NUM. The excuse was economics and high cost coal production, but the fact was this was a myth. British coal, was always the cheapest deep-mined coal in the world. By this yardstick, there was NO

uneconomic pits as an overall operating average; although obviously to have any, average some are going to be marginally more costly than others. The authors do not even engage with this central point. Whether there was any case for pit closures, it is taken as read there was. The alternative nuclear option, their long-term solution to the problem of the Bolshie miners was something in the region of 100% more costly than coal generation, in simple financial terms. Cost was never an issue though when considering nuclear, because like the miners and coal it is part of a different agenda, which had nothing to do with balance sheets.

 

 

NACODS

When we come to the other crucial page in the saga, that is the role of NACODS, the authors are at much at sea as they were with the question as to why power workers in coal fired power stations should support a struggle against closing coal mines.

The authors call NACODS a small management union, which of course it wasn't. NACODS members Mac had already announced were ‘just miners'. The authors announce their surprise that they had voted by a substantial amount (82.51 %) to join the strike [59] They say “in support of the miners”. No, they actually are miners, they work in coalmines, and they weren't coming out in support of ‘the miners' they were coming out against pit closures. That is in defence of their own jobs, against the closure of their own pits. The authors don't quite grasp that, or the fact actually they had previously voted by a substantial majority to join the strike. Such an action would have scuppered the whole Thatcher counter strike strategy, neutralised the scabs and shut down the power stations, steel works and the country.

 

What happened next is of crucial importance to recording the history and outcome of the strike. They fail. Scargill's version of events should at least have been sited. So he wouldn't talk to the authors, but his description of what happened with NACODS is well documented in numerous sources if they had cared to look for them.

Scargill swears that NACODS, BACM (the real managers union) and the NUM agreed with ACAS a form of words, which if agreed by the government, would settle the dispute and secure the future of the coal communities and industry. Essentially, it agreed everything talked about so far, except that where the meaning of ‘beneficially developed' couldn't be agreed at pit and area level; it would be referred to an independent appeal board, whose views they would be obliged to accept. We had had dispute umpires for generations in the industry, with both sides agreeing who that should be.

Thatcher was now staring absolute defeat in the face and hastened to settle. Scargill says they were informed the Cabinet had met and the terms agreed. “ Withdrawal of the pit closure plan. Undertakings that the five collieries earmarked for immediate closure would be kept open, and guarantee that no pit would be closed unless by joint agreement it was deemed to be exhausted or unsafe.” [60] Then in the eleventh hour the NACODS leadership slunk off and signed their own deal, which crucially removed the binding decision of the appeal body  (The Modified Review Proceedure) and left the right to close pits in the hands of the NCB whatever the ‘body' ruled. “About as good as a chocolate fireguard” the wits at the pit correctly observed.  Scargill tells us pleas from the NUM and the TUC to NACODS not to take this disastrous course of action fell on deaf ears. This whole final chapter is among the most important of the whole year. It deserves more than the bland version of events we are offered. The authors comment on the NACODS agreement, “the review body was established, but it never saved a single pit that the Board wanted to close-but it could have been dressed up as a partial victory, and a negotiator like Bill Keys in Scargill's position would have done just that, in order to save his union.” [61] So there we have it, this fool Scargill in October after having deaths and injury, poverty and starvation, riot and imprisonment, terror and cold. Seven months into a total strike should have ‘grasped' at an agreement, which wouldn't have saved a single pit. But could have been dressed up as a victory. And us poor chumps who had stuck it out through thick and thin? Well we would do what we were told wouldn't we? They just do not understand, perhaps they never will.

 

The authors go on “There was …never any chance of McNestry-being able to persuade his members to turn down such a deal. McNestry knew his members would want to accept, and he did.” [62] But on the contrary, the members of NACODS have voted to strike twice by overwhelming majorities to strike against pit closures, to win a deal which prevented pit closures. The members were told this deal did that. Indeed Thatcher in her biography makes it clear she had told negotiators to allow them to think that's what the NACODS agreement meant. It either was only because NACODS members were misinformed and the leaders were too stupid to understand or had been outright lied to that allowed the deal to be signed and the joint action sabotaged. Following the closure of pits which both unions appealed through the appeal procedure and which were agreed by the appeal body should stay open. NACODS take strike action against the deal saying they were hoodwinked. The book is falsely flawed on this whole issue and the subsequent turn of events not even mentioned. John Monks claims Arthur Scargill “underestimated and undervalued” the NACODS agreement, but since it didn't save a single mine, or a single job, it's a bit hard to do otherwise isnt it? Monks is offered as a skilled and practical trade unionist, the kind employers could do business with and us. Not so, the wild and irrational Scargill thinking that a strike against pit closures was meant to result in an agreement against pit closures, the crazy fool.

 

“Willis had had enough of Scargill. He was feeling not personal pique but the impatience that a professional union negotiator feels for a man he considers a shallow populist. The professional knows that in some circumstances he has two choices: to do the business for his members, or to obtain their applause with an easy speech. What Willis thought in his heart was that the miners President had chosen the latter.” [63]

 

“Doing the business for his members” surely this is misquoting its “Doing the business on his members” which is actually canvassed throughout this book and by all the union leaders quoted in it. It is a textbook of betrayal.

 

One fascinating aside which the book reveals for the first time is the fact that Willis clearly got MacGreggor drunk, and in the process he agreed to sign away the Coal Board /government case lock stock and barrel. In a private hotel room meeting in Feb 1985, Mac had agreed no pit would close unless the reserves were ‘deemed exhausted'. [64] The document waited to be signed the following afternoon when he re-met the TUC team. Until Walker and Hunt discovered what he had done.  It meant no pit actually with workable reserves could close without the agreement of the union deeming there weren't any. Mac probably not as stupid as they make him out, probably knew in the wings were waiting hefty redundancy packages which might have caused many pits to be so deemed, unless the union at a higher level was given the power to make the judgement. The two horrified ministers under Maggie's instruction whip the agreement off the table and re-table a suitably useless one in its place. Thatcher we are told never forgave Mac for nearly handing the whole shooting match over the TUC and the NUM. One of Willis's better days if not his only better day in the whole twelve month.

 

At the end of the strike at the final conference, Scargill comes in for one more word of criticism, namely that NEC would go to the decisive conference without a recommendation. The NEC had been split evenly down the middle. Scargill should have used a casting vote to recommend staying out, or going back. Why didn't he, they ask, but can't ask Scargill? It was the ultimate sign of lack of leadership. This is rich given that too much leadership is what's been complained of right through the book.  But a recommendation was problematic. This was after all a movement of Area strikes, not a national strike as such. The NEC could declare an Area strike official, but it had no authority to tell an area to call it off. The national conference was convened to co-ordinate a return or continued action. Given that the areas were roughly divided, the NEC was likewise divided. Had Arthur cast his vote to make a recommendation, which way would the recommendation go, to stop out or go back? Whichever way the NEC with his casting vote swinging it, went, he would be damned as the one man holding all those starving miners out on strike, or else the treacherous bastard who led us up the garden path then sold us out. The conference ultimately voted for a return without a settlement, and without an amnesty for the sacked miners. The announcement of this decision was shocking to the solid ranks of miners and their families who had stuck it out for so long. The fury outside among the lobbying miners was tangible, They were not hordes of ‘trots' and leftists as claimed by the authors , but miners and their families and supporters, only a tiny fraction on whom were in organised left groups. Its also untrue that Scargill didn't get jeered, he did and jostled and called traitor. “Were not going back” was the united chant of the crowds.

All through this book, the authors tried to separate the views and strategy of Mick McGahey from Arthur's. That Mick was for calling off the strike, and had been for some time. But Scotland voted along with Yorkshire not to return unless an amnesty could be gained for the sacked miners. After loosing the vote and acceptance of the Welsh resolution for an unconditional return without agreement or amnesty, Scotland didn't in fact go back to work, and stayed out. So did Kent, and so did pits in Doncaster. Do the authors know this and if they do, do they think it was Arthur Scargill whipping round the coalfields keeping the strike going? Of course, not, so where did that expression, despite all odds and even now the collapse of the strike come? The answer is plain; it came from the rank and file miners themselves, no one else.

 

Finally, the authors claim to have found another of those cupboards in which Scargill keeps various skeletons. They tell us that the first thing Scargill did at the end of the strike was to bring together all the big unions who had stumped up millions in loans to the NUM in order that we could keep operating through the strike and sequestration.

Scargill allegedly tells them our lawyers say it would be unlawful to pay any of it back. (Scargill does have an unlimited supply of such lawyers ever ready at hand to back him up in rough moments). None of the union leaders were going to let this go however and all the money was eventually, five or six years later paid off. But the charge here is that Scargill tried to dupe the very people who had put their necks on the line to assist the NUM out financially. [65] The source for this story is given as Ken Cameron of the FBU in an interview with the authors. This is a nasty revelation. It is part of what would become a whole stream of such allegations of breach of trust and mishandling of support funding. Bad though it is, it doesn't actually minimise the importance of the strike, or indeed Arthur Scargill's outstanding contribution to it.

 

MacGreggor ensures that his deformed UDM baby continues to crap in the crib for years after the strike is over, and to play the role of disunity and collaboration he and Thatcher set out for it, almost from the beginning of the strike. The switch over of authority and rights and recognition from Nottingham NUM to the UDM is done illegally and was in breach of countless binding agreements, but enough sand was being thrown into the NUM's eyes in this period, which allowed it to become a fait accompli.

 

The authors are wrong though in thinking the power of the NUM is broken in 1985. In fact, Thatcher did not achieve her aims though we certainly lost ours. The mines remained the biggest contributor to the national grid, and the biggest source of power in the mines was the still the NUM. far from being on our knees unofficial strikes raged around the coalfields, particularly Kent and Doncaster and Scotland for years after the great strike was over. In 1986, the NUM won a successful national ballot for industrial action by an overwhelming percentage. The power was given to the NEC to take the board on again, but they shit a brick as we say and dropped it .

Thatcher had not won, for that reason; John Major had to come back again in 92/93 with ‘the final solution' to the problem of these miners. There is nothing of that or the mass movement, which rose to challenge it in this book.

 

The authors conclude that “It could be argued that the decline of the coal industry is no bad thing. Burning coal emits more CO2  per unit than its competitors Oil, gas and nuclear.” [66]   Actually they burn the same amount of coal now as they did before Major closed another 55 mines and laid off 60,000 more miners. It's imported so where is the ‘no bad thing' the authors claim? In another of their by now contradictory statements they say “Over 90% of the UK's energy imports consisted of solid fuel and the UK is expected to import 90% of its fossil energy in 2020. Coal is no longer an asset-it simply contributes to the huge trade deficit that currently plagues the UK.” [67]

 

This we are told in a flash of brilliance was all due in part to Arthur Scargill. [68] It isnt explained exactly how striking against this process and bringing that struggle to brink of victory. Then facing defeat, closures, with everything that comes with it, is somehow the result of fighting to stop it.

The conclusion of the authors is that we were simple souls who were lied to and led through the nose like some big lumbering passive bovine by Arthur Scargill for reasons purely to do with his vanity and ego. Such a suggestion is deeply distasteful to the miners and their communities. It is an assault on our dignity and our lives.

 

This could have been a great book. Full of new revelations, facts, and remarkable disclosures. It is spoiled by the wish to destroy Arthur Scargill, the whole work and orientation of the study is skewed right off target and half way through the book; they have already lost the plot.

 

The assumptions and half-truths, the misunderstandings and misrepresentations in this book need to be challenged. We cannot let this composite of honest research and bile become established as some sound version of the facts of 84/5 because in fact, it isnt. (though my next one might be !)

 

David Douglass is a former Area Executive Committee member of the Yorkshire Area NUM, and Doncaster NUM Panels, Regional Picket Co-ordinator. A NUM historian , author and member of the NUM currently and for the last 44 years.

 



[1] See 25 Years After He Led The Miners to Defeat, His Family Have Left Him, Former Comrades Loathe Him-And He's Still Convinced He Beat Thatcher. Welcome to The Mad, Sad World of Scargill The Pariah; David Jones. Daily Mail, Sat 7 March 2009 pages 22-24

[2] Francis Beckett is a writer for the Guardian and others. David Hencke is the Westminster correspondent of Guardian, winning scoop of the year and journalist of year three times.

[4] Pg 15 first full Para.

[5] Min Fuel and Power, and Home Office figures quoted in my pamphlet Coal Communities In Conflict pub Heavy Stuff, Class War Oct 1992

[6] Pg 21 Para two and three

[7] Strike Not The End Of The Story.

[8] Pg 43 Marching Op.cit

[9] As it turned out following the loss of most of our members the bloody Sheffield office isnt doing us any favours either as it's on the market and has been for years. It is somewhat of a white elephant and a causality of the war we lost.

 

[10] Marching, pg 117.

[11] Pg 33

[12] 1925 in response to a mass strike and threatened solidarity action the government forced the owners to withdraw the wage reduction and lengthening of hours by giving a subsidy. They weren't ready either, and simply bought time while their emergency powers were being put in place. When they were, the subsidy was withdrawn and the cuts re-enacted.

[13] Pg 35

[14] Chap 3 pg 47

[15] In July 1984 a secret review of the five named colliery closures which sparked the strike in Yorkshire, Scotland , Durham and Wales, by mining engineers and sent to Ned Smith NCB director

highlighted the fact that Cortonwood should never have been included on the hit list. National Archives (Coal) 26/1410.  But it didn't have to be Cortonwood to have sparked the action anyway.

[16] Pit Sense Versus The State.  A history of militant miners in the Doncaster Area, Phoenix Press November 1993

[17] MacGreggor, quoted in Marching pg 91.

[18] Marching. Pg 107

[19] Marching, Op.cit page 44.

[20] Monumental Misjudgement, Maurice Jones, The Guardian, Tues 17th March 2009

[21] Ghost Dancers, pt 3 Stardust and Coaldust; pub Christiebooks, forthcoming.

[22] Frank Ledger, Director Of CEGB Operations 1981-86. Quoted in Who Kept The Lights On: Managing The Power Supply. BBC 2 Documentary.

[23] (pt Three Stardust and Coaldust: Ghost Dancers ) quoting from BBC Documentary ‘Who Kept The Lights On' itself heavily based upon Managing The Power Supply An Inside Story Of Crisis Management. Frank Ledger and Howard Salla. And quoted in my forthcoming Ghost Dancers, pt 3

Stardust and Coaldust, pub Christiebooks.

[24] Strike Not The End Of The Story. Reflections On the Major Coal Mining Strikes In Britain. David Douglass. Pg 38. & quoting inter alia Ian MacGreggor...with Tyler. The Enemies Within, The Story Of The Miners Strike 1984-5 pg 281.

[25] Marching, pg 56

[26] Ibid

[27] Marching pg 57

[28] Ibid pg 88/89

[29] Page 58

[30] Ibid pg 72

[31] Marching, Op.cit page 49.

[32] Marching, Op cit. page 53.

[33] Pg 63

[34] B Wilson ,Britain's Flying Pickets in the 1984/5 strike

[35] Marching, Op.cit page 53.

[36] Pg 51

[37] All of these facts are found in my Strikes Not The End Of The Story pub National Coal Mining Museum For England and still on sale in the museum shop, hardly an obscure source.

[38] We Could Surrender-or stand and fight. Arthur Scargill, The Guardian, Sat 7th March 2009

[39] Maurice Jones, The Guardian 17 March 2009

[40] Marching pg 77

[41] Marching.

[42] Quoted in Marching pg 107

[43] Ibid.

[44] Pg 108

[45] Marching 168

[46] ibid

[47] Marching pg 126.

[48] Pg 127

[49] Marching Op.cit pages 92/3

[50] Marching 109

[51] Strike Not The End Of The Story, pg 36

[52] Pg 109-110

[53] Marching 112-113

[54] Marching 106

[55] Marching pg 114

[56] Pg 118

[57] Pg 119

[58] Ibid.

[59] Marching pg 139

[60] Arthur Scargill, The Guardian, 7th March 2009

[61] Ph 144

[62] Pg 144

[63] Marching pg 160/161

[64] Marching pg 188

[65] Marching pg 213/214

[66] Pg 238

[67] Pg 239

[68] Pg 247

 

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