The honorary president of the National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill, has broken his long silence over the events that happened during the year-long miners’ strike 25 years ago.
Many fellow supporters and detractors involved in the strike, held over the then Conservative government’s plans to close a large number of pits across the country, have had their say, but Scargill’s voice was never heard until now in an interview with The Guardian. I was too young to remember these events apart from what I read in the newspapers as a teenager. It was a strike which had changed industrial relations in the UK.
The strike had lead to a long-term decline in the industry. A small number of pits nationwide remain open, the majority of them at the time of the strike were located in the north of England, Scotland, and South Wales, where the Labour party had the majority of political support.
Scargill, then a long-time member of the Labour party, was probably sceptical of then leader (Lord) Neil Kinnock’s lukewarm support for the miners at the time, arguing that if they stood shoulder to shoulder, then the Conservative government would have fallen. However, he eventually had to agree to a settlement with the government to end the strike, which had split whole mining communities, and even families.
It seems ironic that Scargill, the media’s favourite bogeyman at the time, and whatever many peoples’ view of him since, has remained true to his principles and working-class roots. How many career Labour politicians can say the same thing about themselves today?