The Miners Strike of 1982-84
“As painful as it was at the time , the closing of the mines was probably the best policy. If it hadn’t happened would Scotland still be producing expensive coal that no one could afford , all at tax-payers expense? It was a bitter pill at the time but in hindsight it was probably the correct decision.”
The coal industry was in decline from around 1960. Harold Wilson’s government closed many collieries in Scotland and Wales and some in England. The closures were handled well, many miners and their families transferred to collieries in England and new smaller industries were introduced into, newly built, “campus towns” mitigating damage to communities.
At the beginning of the eighties the Thatcher government, (spoiling for a fight with the coal miners) driven by dogma, issued spoiler information to miners advising the intention was to close 20 colleries. Secret government papers were passed to Arthur Scargill indicating the scale of closures was to be in excess of 75 colleries. Government denied this. Scargill consulted the miners who, realizing all would be lost if the massive closure list was actioned voted for, “Strike action”.
The Strike, which lasted over a year brought terrible hardship to miners and their families, (wives were denied social assistance, after the personal intervention of Mrs Thatcher). Communities were destroyed. Father was set against son. Police, “flying squads”, unheard of in peacetime, smothered mining communities denying freedom of movement of men, women and children, reminiscent of Germany in the 1930’s. Thatcher, describing the miners as, “the enemy within”, released the full might of secret services on mining communities the damaging effects of which still exist today.
After the, “strike collapsed” Thatcher executed her revenge. The bulk of the UK’s collieries were closed. Many thousands of miners were thrown onto the dole never to work again. Mining communities were dismantled by denial to them of any new industry. Younger families emigrated to Australia, Canada and New Zealand joining relations that had suffered similar fates in the past.
Thatcher funded her war on the miners using revenue from Scottish oil. Her preference being that miners should live and die, “on the dole” punishment for the crime of daring to resist her and the Tory party.