Socialist Worker

Anger and celebration at Miners’ Strike commemorative meetings

Issue No. 2143

London

Arthur Scargill, leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) during the great strike of 1984-5, delivered a robust defence of the action at a meeting last week.

Speaking at London’s Conway Hall on Thursday of last week, Scargill slammed recent press coverage of the Miners’ Strike.

He insisted the miners were right to strike and that they could have won their epic dispute.

He took on the arguments of his right wing critics about ballots, targeting the steel industry and his alleged failure to negotiate a settlement to the strike

Scargill was particularly scathing about Neil Kinnock.

Answering Kinnock’s criticism of his leadership of the strike, Scargill said that if the then Labour leader had supported the miners in the same way his predecessor Michael Foot had during unofficial action in 1981, the dispute could have been won.

Alain Simon, leader of the French miners’ union, whose members delivered enormous solidarity during the dispute, joined Scargill on the platform.

Other speakers included John Bream, who organised solidarity from Fleet

Street print workers, which at times stopped the presses to prevent particularly vile attacks on the miners being published.

Ricky Tomlinson, the TV star and former building worker who was jailed for organising picketing, also spoke.

Mike Simons


Barnsley

Over 500 people crowded into the Yorkshire Miners Hall in Barnsley last Saturday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of two Yorkshire miners on the picket lines during the 1984-5 strike.

David Jones died picketing in Nottingham in March 1984 and Joe Green at Ferrybridge power station in July 1984.

There was an emotional memorial service at the statue in the union gardens commemorating all those who died in the strike.

This was followed by a speech by Mark Jones, David’s father, who spoke of his pride in his son and the cause he had died fighting for.

Arthur Scargill then gave a powerful speech defending the strike. In recent weeks, there has been a media barrage attacking the memory of the strike.

Scargill demolished the attacks, and pointed out that it was not inevitable that the miners would lose.

He said that the steel industry had only six weeks’ supply of coal at the beginning of the strike and that the only reason steel was not brought to a standstill was because of the actions of miners’ union leaders in areas like Yorkshire and Scotland.

In October 1984, when the pit deputies Nacods’ union members voted 82 percent in favour of a strike, the Tories appeared ready to give in as they knew that would shut every pit.

For some reason, still unknown to Scargill, the strike was called off in favour of accepting a deal which gave the pit depities none of their objectives.

Scargill’s final point was that the example that the miners gave, in fighting to preserve jobs and communities, was important today when unemployment is ravaging whole areas again.

The day’s celebrations finished with a social in the local trades club.

David Gibson


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Article information

News
Tue 17 Mar 2009, 18:45 GMT
Issue No. 2143
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