Thatcherism vs Scargillism

The miners’ Great Strike of 1984-5 pitted the reorganised Tories against the syndicalistic politics of Scargill. Our class must learn the vital lessons from this titanic clash

Even before Thatcher became prime minister in May 1979 she and an inner coterie had been planning a decisive shift in the balance of class forces in favour of capital. At the heart of this lay the project of reversing the defeats suffered by the Tory government in 1972 and 1974 at the hands of the miners. The Economist leaked a report drafted by Nicholas Ridley which made clear that the Tories believed that the “most likely battleground” they would face in office would be “the coal industry”.1 To ensure that there was no repeat of the humiliations suffered by the Heath government he recommended that: (a) maximum coal stocks should be built up, particularly at the power stations; (b) contingency plans should be made for the import of coal; (c) non-union lorry drivers should be recruited; (d) dual coal/oil power stations should be quickly introduced. Besides those measures Ridley proposed that social security money should be cut off for strikers and that a “large, mobile squad of police, equipped and prepared to uphold the law against violent picketing” be organised.

So on coming to office the new Tory team were determined not to repeat the mistakes of Heath (and for that matter Wilson and Callaghan). Rather than control wages through social contract corporatism or one big law, the ‘discipline’ of the market was the preferred weapon. There would be no immediate frontal attack on the trade unions. Instead mass unemployment was to be combined with a creeping programme of legislation and salami tactics.

The first sortie was in November 1979. Derek Robinson, a member of the CPGB and senior convenor at the giant Longbridge British Leyland factory, was sacked. That the company’s Labour-appointed boss, Michael Edwards could get away with it without provoking an all-out strike showed that shop steward power had already been considerably weakened by its entanglement with class collaborationist joint plans, integration with management and isolation from the shop floor.

Next, in 1980, came the Social Security Act - legislation along the lines proposed by Ridley, which greatly reduced payments received by strikers’ families. That coincided with the defeat of the steelworkers, whose bitter 13-week strike was lost not least because it had a leadership fighting for pay and jobs on the basis of promoting the steel industry’s efficiency. Civil servants followed in 1981, and in 1982 healthworkers and train drivers.

But the Tories did not get everything their own way. In February 1981 the miners fended off Coal Board threats to close 50 pits with a militant strike wave from below - South Wales taking the lead. The government was not ready. Coal stocks were still too low. The closure programme was withdrawn - a clever temporary retreat.

Meanwhile though another vital element in the Ridley plan had been put in place. In the summer of 1981 riots swept the inner cities of England as mass unemployment and the mass alienation of black youth triggered an explosion of anger. It was crushed by paramilitary police squads, decked out CRS-style and using the tactics perfected by the British army in the Six Counties.

In 1972 home secretary Reginald Maudling had the choice of either surrendering to the massed pickets outside Saltly or calling in the army and have the government suffer “a dramatic loss of legitimacy”.2 Under Thatcher, Labour’s limited development of highly mobile riot control units, such as the Special Patrol Group of the Metropolitan Police, was greatly added to and given coordination through what one academic calls the “key” element in the “government’s strike breaking machinery” - the National Reporting Centre, based at New Scotland Yard.3

Though the first Thatcher term witnessed a number of important defeats for the working class the overall situation was one of stand-off. In the drive to up the rate of profit and make Britain ‘great again’ GNP fell by four percent and unemployment was allowed to rise to 1930s levels (in absolute numbers). However those in work still managed to increase their real earnings by 13%. That one statistic helps to explain why Thatcher’s Tories were able to romp home in the 1983 election against the disorientated Labour Party and the ephemeral Liberal/SDP Alliance. Her second term directly paved the way for the test case Stockport Messenger dispute, where the union busting Eddie Shah successfully used the 1980 Employment Act against the NGA print union - its funds were surgically removed through sequestration. The state was not concerned with defence of an outsider like Shah but with its own strategic perspectives. Warrington was a dress rehearsal for the use of the methods of Northern Ireland and Brixton against strikers.

Massed pickets no longer shouldered police in a game of push and shove. On the new ‘tactical staircase’ police in full riot gear now used the baton charge and the wedge instead of the tactics of familiarisation and the well timed joke. Violence finally replaced non-violence. To the extent that high capitalism grows infirm it returns to the bloody methods of its youth. Peterloo beckons. The mould of 20th century industrial relations was cracking. As if to prove the point, in an act of malicious arrogance that was to become characteristic of the Thatcher regime, unions were banned from the GCHQ spy centre at Cheltenham. True to form, the TUC protested, but was unwilling to do anything that might actually have an effect. The government smelt blood. Ian MacGregor - the butcher of Bel Air in Wyoming and British Steel - was appointed Coal Board chairman.

Everything had been done to fix the economic argument against coal. Nuclear power was promoted and with a straight scientific face presented as the cheapest energy source. Besides that a string of highly expensive oil-fired power stations had been constructed along the south coast. Their prime function was to bust the NUM, not provide Arab sheikhs with yet more petro-dollars.

On the miners’ side too there was a taste for confrontation. The gormless Joe Gormley announced his retirement as NUM president in July 1981. Arthur Scargill trounced his rightwing rivals, Trevor Bell and Ray Chadburn, with 70.3% of the votes cast. Everything seemed set for a decisive confrontation. Yet despite the overwhelming mandate for militancy Scargill suffered three successive ‘no’ votes against industrial action.

The incentive scheme, imposed against the wishes of the majority of miners in 1978 by the Labour government, was having its effect. Miners in ‘economic’ pits were increasingly unwilling to come out on strike for miners in ‘uneconomic’ pits. In November 1983 however the NUM managed to get a national overtime ban - in 1972 and 1974 a prelude to strike action. Nevertheless the mood among the rank and file remained equivocal. In the ballot for the successor of Lawrence Daly as NUM general secretary Peter Heathfield, the well known leftwing Derbyshire president, only just managed to scrape home against opposition from the virtually unknown John Walsh - the main plank of his campaign was opposition to the overtime ban. MacGregor and the Coal Board confidently pressed ahead with their piecemeal closure programme and staged one provocation after another. When the crunch finally came on March 1 1984 over the announcement that Cortonwood in Yorkshire would close, the miners acted instinctively, the state according to a plan.

Great Strike

The miners’ Great Strike of 1984-5 had many features of past industrial struggles. But it also gave a glimpse of the future as, in the words of one of the miners’ organic intellectuals, the “horrors of occupied Ulster exploded” on to the streets of Britain.4 During the year it lasted, the facade of civil liberties was dispensed with. Thatcher and an inner cabinet met with the shadowy Civil Contingency Unit twice a week to direct every move, the Treasury shelled out at least three billion pounds on it and the law was used to legally strip the NUM of its funds.

The only strikes in Britain that had ever been as redolent with civil war were in 1842 and 1926, and - taken as a whole - the struggles between 1910 and 1914 and the early 1920s. The police made not the slightest pretence of neutrality. Secondary pickets were criminalised and agents provocateurs were deployed. Miners found themselves placed under unofficial marshal law. Flying pickets were turned back hundreds of miles from their destination, pit villages were occupied, phones tapped, mail opened, miners and their supporters suffered savage beatings, two miners were killed and well over 10,000 arrested. And while the tactics advocated by the NUM leadership did not go much beyond push and shove, the rank and file exhibited as much creativity as they did courage. Spontaneous instinct led all the way to embryonic forms of working class state power. In the hit squads - embryonic workers’ militias. In the Women Against Pit Closures movement - an embryonic mass working class women’s movement. In the miners’ support groups - embryonic soviets.

The fact that this strike was responsible for such communist anticipations shows just how important it was, not just for miners, not just for revolutionaries, but for all classes and strata in British society. It was a carefully prepared strategic attack on trade union power by a government determined to finally leave behind the incubus of social democratic consensus politics.

If Thatcher had lost, the consequences for capitalist Britain would have been dire. Writing in The Spectator, Colin Welsh said he feared “power would have passed from Westminster to the soviets”.5 That is why reactionaries were determined to win it and ‘moderates’ were phased by it. In contrast there can be no doubt that militant workers throughout Britain saw the miners’ fight as their fight. Millions of pounds were donated directly in cash or in the form of food aid. Across the world it was the same story. And CGT activists in France did not just donate money and food: they carried out a number of brilliant sabotage attacks on trains carrying coal destined for Britain (shades of the marquis). Australian seamen and Dutch dockers displayed a similar exemplary internationalism as did the nationalist masses in Belfast and Derry when British miners attended demonstrations there in August 1984 (it was Engels who first made the point that when the Irish are being nationalist, in their own way they actually display internationalism).

Of course there were examples of international scabbing. IG Metal, Germany’s largest union, refused to lend any help to the NUM because of Scargill’s supposed communism. Even more venal was the bureaucratic socialism of Poland. Jaruzelski’s military/‘official communist’ government maintained coal exports to Britain and then actually increased them as the strike dragged on.6 No wonder advanced workers viewed the Solidarnosc counter-revolution in 1989 with a sense of confused detachment.

It hardly needs saying, but the biggest problem with scabbing was in Britain itself.

First, in the form of blinkered passivity in other unions. Coal was moved by TGWU drivers whose lust for money was greater than fear of losing their union cards. Coal was demanded by Bill Sirs and other ISTC officials desperate to keep doomed British steel works in business, and EMA members at power stations burnt coal because the miners’ strike was viewed as a private affair.

Second, the leaders of the Labour Party and the TUC were responsible for a steady stream of poisonous criticism against Scargill, the lack of a national strike ballot and miners’ willingness to use violence. All that was eagerly taken up by a bosses’ media which was already conducting a noxious campaign of hate and persecution which basically meant damning the NUM as a “Nazi” organisation, consisting of “jackbooted bullies” led by a Yorkshire version of Hitler or Gadaffi.

Thirdly, and of cardinal importance, the majority of miners in Notts, the NUM’s second largest area, continued to work throughout the dispute. Flying pickets from Yorkshire had initially brought out a whole number of pits. Nonetheless a combination of bureaucratic plea bargaining by Ray Chadburn and Henry Richardson, stubborn sectionalism and an unprecedented police operation to seal off the entire area produced what was a gift to the Tory government. It got more than coal. It got something far more valuable. Hypocrisy brings no blush of shame to the bourgeoisie - purple lies are its stock in trade. Throughout the strike the government was able to present its pre-planned assault on the NUM and miners’ jobs as defence of democracy and the right to work against a “gangster class” of “red fascists”.

It has to be said that by the end of the strike Thatcher achieved what she had been plotting as leader of the opposition in 1978. The NUM was forced to order a return to work without any agreement on closures, pay or reinstatement of those deemed to have been sacked because of their actions during the strike. While the NUM remained defiant it had been taken apart. Its funds were in the hands of Herbert Brewer, a court-appointed administrator. The NUM was split down the middle between those who had returned to work and those who stayed out till the last, and a permanent fifth column had been organised in the form of the National Working Miners’ Committee, the proto-Union of Democratic Mineworkers. But the militant tactics associated with the successes of the 1970s were the main victim.

Old tactics

In 1984-5 Scargill and the NUM used outdated methods which were no match against a state that had fully absorbed the lessons of its previous defeats and had reorganised itself technically, logistically and politically as a result. Scargill thought he could repeat the victories of 1972 and 1974 without going through a similar upping of the ante. The battle for Orgreave was a perfect illustration. For Scargill (and above all the Socialist Workers Party) the Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, was to become the Saltly of 1984. The unofficial picket that was building up outside it in May 1984 was a threat to the lousy deals struck between the ISTC and the NUM’s area leaderships in Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire to allow British Steel to take delivery of coal, in this case to the Scunthorpe mill. Blinded by the illusions of the ‘alternative economic strategy’, stalwarts of parochial campaigns to defend this, that or the other, concerned not to be blamed for the closure of any of their precarious local steel mills, Mick McGahey, Emlyn Williams and Jack Taylor had negotiated dispensations in the name of the ‘national interest’.7 That resulted in coal deliveries to Ravenscraig, Hunterson, Llanwern, Port Talbot and Scunthorpe actually increasing during the strike. This ‘suicide pact’ was not to the liking of militants nor Scargill. He marshalled the Orgreave picket line and called for others to join it.

However Scargill was a general whose officers were a law unto themselves. President of the NUM he was, but the area officials were in charge of directing pickets. Neither Taylor nor any of the others were prepared to make Orgreave a test of strength. Though the SWP might like to think otherwise, even if they had, it would have taken a lot more to “win the strike” than recourse to “mass picketing”.8 Against the national police force equipped with riot gear, dogs, snatch squads and calvary, the miners’ dare-doing was not enough. Scargill’s tactics were trapped in 1970s push and shove. Often outnumbered, militant pickets took things into their own hands and used bricks, bottles and even a telegraph pole battering ram. But the police were always in command. There was “never any likelihood” of the daily convoy of lorries carrying coke from the plant being stopped.9

In 1972 it was the CPGB in Birmingham that was key to bringing 15,000 engineering workers to Saltly. In 1984 the Party was temporarily in the hands of the Eurocommunists and other vile opportunists.10 There was no solidarity strike in Sheffield, no march on Orgreave, no class-wide guiding centre, capable of meeting the challenge of 1984 police methods. Because of this lack of political vision the whole strategy of the NUM proved woefully inadequate. No coherent alternative developed from below (the short lived Militant Miners’ Rank and File Movement which formed shortly after the strike was no exception: it lacked any sense of independence or direction).

The Great Strike, for all its grandness and heroism, could only have won by becoming a general strike. True, on numerous occasions Scargill called upon other unions to fight alongside the NUM and “fulfil your pledges”, but it really was not part of an integrated class view. His platform was based on the Plan for coal and bureaucratic solidarity, not smashing the anti-trade union laws and overthrowing the government. That meant he was not prepared to break from the TUC nor challenge directly the leadership of other unions. Even though he was worshipped by a ‘red’ army of NUM members and a swathe of other militant workers, Scargill refused to organise over the heads of left-talking union leaders such as Buckton, Knapp, Todd and Slater - or for that matter the NUM’s Richardson, Taylor, Bolton and Williams, who were of a similar stripe. Instead of storming the headquarters, Scargill contented himself with a dissident form of diplomacy within the established machine.

The reason for this is simple. Though it suited Ian MacGregor and the Coal Board to attack him for his “well known contacts with, and love for, revolutionary parties and groups the world over”, the fact is that Scargill is a reformist.11 That is not to say he is no different from the run-of-the-mill trade union boss. He certainly is. Scargill’s politics were at this point in time an eclectic mix of inherited ‘official communism’, Jack London socialism, a Labourism of convenience and an NUMism of passion - all in a potent personality which makes him unique among trade union leaders in Britain (among NUM officials in the Great Strike only Jack Collins was ahead of him).

That meant our modern-day AJ Cook was willing to defend tactics considered completely beyond the pale by the dullards that pass for leaders in most unions. On the other hand, his ties with and membership of the bureaucracy, his lack of revolutionary theory and programme, served to rein in an essentially right centrist political outlook. A good example of this in 1984-5 was the question of picketing and violence. Scargill did not once condemn picket line violence. He made it clear that those who crossed a picket line got what they deserved. But away from the picket line it was another matter. For instance when taxi driver David Wilkie was killed by a falling concrete block while driving a scab, he actually came out and “disassociated the NUM” from working class violence (the SWP condemned the Wilkie incident as an act of “individual terrorism”).12 That showed Scargill’s limitations in no uncertain terms.13 Working class violence must not be condemned: it must be organised.

After the Great Strike was over the left reformist trade union bureaucracy tried to excuse its inaction by putting the blame on the rank and file. Yet throughout the strike rank and file trade unionists organised sterling solidarity with the miners. There were a few shining instances of selfless industrial action: railway workers in Coalville and Fleet Street printworkers being most notable. Most support for the miners found expression in the miners’ support groups, which sprung up in every town and city without waiting for a lead from above. They were responsible for an unprecedented solidarity campaign. It is estimated that £60 million was raised for the miners and their families.14 Besides individual activists, under the umbrella of the miners’ support groups every important working class political trend was represented. The consistent revolutionaries were always in a tiny minority, but their arguments became increasingly influential. Not surprisingly then towards the end of the strike emphasis within the support groups began to shift away from simply collecting money and food towards recognising the necessity of fighting for generalised industrial action.

Scargill had no strategy to develop the mass support that existed for the miners - except, that is, in the trade unions and almost exclusively through the bureaucracy. The hostile response that met the NUM’s appeal for an embargo on coal from rightwing-led unions was predictable. In such unions, openly supporting the miners came to risk official sanction and even removal from office. The left unions were more sympathetic to Scargill’s call for solidarity. They did supply finance and agreed to boycott the movement of coal. For most of the strike the NUR prevented the majority of coal trains running, with between 40 to 200 of its members being suspended daily for refusing to move coal. The seafarers’ union, the NUS, took a similar stand. The TGWU was much less successful. Many of the lorries moving scab coal to the steel mills and power stations were driven by TGWU members. No serious attempt was made to discipline them.

Obviously more was needed. Left unions leaders talked about ‘total support’ and a ‘big bang’. But whenever presented with an opportunity to turn talk into action and put the Thatcher government on the run, no effort was spared to reach a compromise rather than fight. Thatcher was determined to keep the miners isolated and if that meant paying higher wages to others, it was a price worth paying. In May 1984 the government skilfully prevented a rail strike by offering a juicy 7.2% wage increase. That sop was more than enough to buy off Jimmy Knapp and Ray Buckton. The same scenario was broadly repeated with the Union of Communications Workers, water workers and the Militant-controlled Liverpool council. However the most notable failure to open up a second front was the dockers’ dispute.

The whole free market ethos of the Tories meant the Dock Labour Scheme acted like a red rag to a bull. Agreed after World War II, it meant only union members could be employed. With the restriction of competition between workers, wages were kept high. In April 1984 anger among the dockers had been primed by a typically provocative and mistimed speech by Ridley. The fool let the Tories’ plans out of bag: the Dock Labour Scheme was under “review”. The flash point came at the beginning of July when registered dockers at Immingham refused to scab on train drivers (who were in turn refusing to scab on the miners) and walked off the job.

Elsewhere British Steel management had with the agreement of dockers begun using its own labour force to unload coal and iron ore. The TGWU wanted to reassert the rights of its members and as a result a national strike of registered and non-registered dockers was called on July 9. The class war situation was momentarily transformed. Faced with strikes by miners and dockers, the government could well have been forced to sue for peace. Yet TGWU officials had not thought of that and tragically, with the decline of the CPGB, the once powerful shop stewards’ movement was a shell of its former self. No demands were put forward to extend the Dock Labour Scheme nor was serious picketing organised. The strike quickly unravelled. First at the non-registered port of Dover after lorry drivers had gone on the rampage, then after a further fraying everywhere else when TGWU national docks officer John Connolly accepted a vague, meaningless compromise formula presented by the employers. Capitalism breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The second national dock strike began in September over British Steel’s use of non-dock labour to unload the Ostia, a ship carrying 95,000 tons of coking coal for Ravenscraig. It was a disaster. Without any unifying strategy non-registered dockers worked from the beginning, officials denied any connection with the miners’ dispute and local deals were agreed which broke what unity there was. The strike ended on September 18. Apart from those two brief episodes the government had no problem with importing coal into the country - the abolition of the Dock Labour Scheme was now just a matter of timing.

Scargill’s faith in the official structures of the trade union movement and lack of a revolutionary programme was in itself a definite factor in reinforcing the isolation of the miners. When militants approached their district and national executives demanding strike action alongside the NUM, or when miners’ support groups raised the question of a general strike, they were told that the NUM had not asked for it. Scargill really seemed to believe victory could be secured by the miners alone (as long as other trade unionists supported them financially and respected their picket lines). If production of coal and its movement was halted through flying and mass pickets, then it was only a matter of intransigently waiting till stocks were reduced to the proverbial molehills (as we were constantly told they had been) and accepting the government’s surrender. Then the years of Thatcherism could be rolled back, as the years of Heathism had been.

By not recognising that broadening the struggle, generalising it, politicising it was central, Scargill inevitably displayed an ambivalent attitude towards the TUC. First having nothing to do with it - the TUC knife was still embedded in the back of Aslef and the NGA. Then, when he realised his strategy could not win, he went to the September 1984 TUC where he allowed Norman Willis and the general council to get away with paper solidarity that conveniently let them off the hook. Never did he see the necessity of boldly challenging the TUC in order to prepare the ground for organising an alternative centre of authority and power in the working class movement. The government was out to break the NUM so it could break union power. Scargill made that point on countless platforms, but was unable to provide any class-wide organisational answer.

The TUC might have formally voted to fight for a miners’ victory (at the same time the EETPU and AEU made clear that they would do nothing to support the miners). Nonetheless the real intention of the left/centre majority at the TUC was to seek a negotiated settlement. That meant winding down mass pickets and accepting at least some of the terms and conditions laid down by MacGregor and the NCB. Courting TUC aid had a price and Scargill paid it at the September congress. He and the NUM delegation had to sit and politely listen to lectures from Basnet, Willis and Kinnock on the evils of picket line violence and he had to call off his own ‘army’. It was more than symbolic then that the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions demonstration on the opening day of the congress was relocated at the last moment by its organisers miles away from the Brighton conference centre. The only people lobbying the TUC that day were members of the WRP, SWP, CPGB supporters of The Leninist and a small band of defiant miners. It was the beginning of the end.

The Economist predicted that “Mr Scargill’s defeat will come from the union movement” which, because it had “neither the capacity nor the intention of delivering”, was the “best” weapon Thatcher had.15 It was not wrong.

Jack Conrad

  1. The Economist May 27 1978↩︎

  2. P Wiles in P Fosh and C Littler (ed) Industrial relations and the law in the 1980s, London 1985, p161↩︎

  3. R Geary Policing industrial disputes, Cambridge 1985, p95↩︎

  4. D Douglass Come and wet this truncheon, London 1986, p2↩︎

  5. The Spectator August 4 1984↩︎

  6. Many ‘official communists’ rushed to excuse the scabbing of the Polish government. In Straight Left Elsie Watson, the national organiser of the National Union of Women, argued that: “Poland has already received credit for this contract and hence they feel they must supply this year’s quota ... The Polish people and government have every sympathy with the British miners” (Straight Left October 1984). And in Communist the same faction assured its supporters that “coal described as being from Poland was, in fact, South African” (Communist May 3 1984). Later they placed blame for Poland’s scabbing on the working class in Britain: ie, allowing coal into Britain. Against this parody of internationalism Leninists demanded the end to Poland’s disgraceful trade. This stand was supported by many NUM militants including Paul Whetton, rank and file leader of the Notts striking miners (interviewed in The Leninist No12), and Jack Collins and Malcolm Pitt of Kent NUM. Jack Collins declared he did not accept “the reasoning that says, ‘We have got contracts that must be honoured.’ I do not accept that reasoning. That’s the same sort of reasoning that people use when they are trading with Chile and places like that” (interviewed in The Leninist No13).↩︎

  7. For many elements in the workers’ movement the miners’ strike had to be painted in patriotic red, white and blue if it was to win. Hence ‘public opinion’, not class solidarity, was the question. Eurocommunist Peter Carter insisted that it must be “aimed at ... the defence of miners’ jobs and the coal industry as a valuable national asset”. This was echoed by Tony Chater in his Morning Star: “Every citizen has a stake in a miners’ victory. Coal is a vital basic resource for the whole of our industry” (Morning Star May 1 1984). The Labour Party NEC also urged “full support for the miners” because “if we are to safeguard Britain’s future, coal production must be expanded - not contracted” (The Times September 28 1984). Arthur Scargill came from the same school. He said the strike was aimed at “safeguarding a national asset” (Morning Star September 3 1984). It hardly needs saying, but the ruling class suffered no such illusions. The coal industry, whether it be nationalised or not, is its industry. These attempts to save ‘our’ industry are the shortest road to the abyss. Maintaining that the coal industry (or for that matter any industry) is a national asset in the sense that it belongs to the British people, that it is the property of those who work in it, equates the interests of British capitalism with those who are exploited by it. Moreover by championing defence of ‘our’ industry British workers are not only set against each other - steelworkers against miners - but against workers in other countries. Against loyalty to ‘our’ industry, ‘our’ capitalist nation and its state, communists have always advanced the slogan, Begin with what the working class needs, not what capitalism can afford. Workers have no interest in sacrificing their interests to capitalism. We have every interest in seeing the system destroyed and replaced by socialism, which can guarantee workers ever improving living conditions, socially useful work and a real future. While capitalism lasts we must put forward economic and political demands expressing the immediate needs of the working class for decent pay, jobs, and social services, regardless of whether they are compatible with the continuation of capitalism or not. On this political platform sectionalism can be overcome and workers’ unity forged.↩︎

  8. A Callincos and M Simons The Great Strike, London 1985, p114↩︎

  9. M Crick Scargill and the miners, Harmondsworth 1985, p109↩︎

  10. The crisis of the CPGB was felt in a particularly acute fashion inside the NUM itself. In 1926 the CPGB acted as a vanguard for the working class movement and the Miners’ Federation. In 1984-5 because of the opportunists the CPGB members lacked any unified position, while in Scotland most steered a course well to the right of Scargill. The Eurocommunists in the leadership of the Scottish Area of the NUM played a conservative role which demobilised support. After miners were arrested demonstrations outside courts were banned, non-NUM pickets were frowned upon and the tightest bureaucratic stranglehold was placed on the miners’ support groups. Now George Bolton advocates pressure politics PR stunts and eschews any idea of militant strike action.↩︎

  11. I MacGregor The enemies within, Glasgow 1987, p310↩︎

  12. Socialist Worker December 7 1984↩︎

  13. The Morning Star showed itself far to the right of Arthur Scargill. After keeping quiet about working class violence it took its cue from the bourgeois media. The death of taxi driver David Wilkie had its editor coming out with the following pacifist line: “Throughout nine months of warfare against the pit community the Tory media has focused on violence no trade unionists would condone” (Morning Star December 1 1984).↩︎

  14. Government legislation robbed strikers and their families of social security payments by deducting £15 a week which was supposed to be given by the penniless union in strike pay, and, not content with that, it tried to increase the suffering during the course of the strike by docking a further £1 by arbitrarily assuming that the non-existent strike pay had been increased to £16.↩︎

  15. The Economist September 8 1984↩︎