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Britain is still scarred by the miners’ defeat Forty years later, the working man remains lost

Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers, circa 1985. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers, circa 1985. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


January 25, 2024   5 mins

In July 1984, Margaret Thatcher gave a speech to the 1922 Committee about the miners who had been on strike since March. “We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands,” she said. “We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.” Working men fighting to save their jobs were now a metastasising cell that must be obliterated.

I remember it well as it was my birthday, and my friends immediately started to make stickers and badges. I went back to my Mum’s house proudly sporting an “Enemy Within” sticker on my pregnant belly. A Thatcher-supporter, she said I was a reason why women should not be given the vote.

Back then, everyone I knew in London supported the miners. We hated Thatcher and understood this to be a battle between the capitalist state and the working class, an attempt to crush union power once for all. If you ever had doubts, you didn’t show them out of solidarity. This still carries for those who want to romanticise the strike as the last great civil war. War changes lives forever and the miner’s strike changed this country forever, its ghosts popping up in Billy Elliott, Pride and Sherwood.

Today, a three-part series starts on Channel 4, Miners’ Strike 1984: The Battle for Britain, and, 40 years on, it makes for essential viewing. Through interviews with striking miners and scabs, with those working in the shadows to defeat it on the government’s behalf, with the police and with reams of extraordinarily violent footage, this is intense, visceral stuff. To reckon with the defeat of the miners — and it was a huge thrashing — is to gaze on a gaping sore that some argue leads all the way to Brexit. But reckon with it we must.

In 1984, Britain was home to 173 working collieries, but the richest seams of coal had already been mined and it was becoming more expensive to reach what remained. The answer was mechanisation, which meant redundancies. Thatcher wanted three things: a confrontation with “the Yorkshire Stalin”, Arthur Scargill; to close inefficient pits in order to grow the economy; and to break the strongest union. The National Coal Board said it would close 20 pits; Scargill told his men that it would be 70. And so they downed tools.

While the strike was indeed about jobs, the documentary reveals that it was also about so much more. Going down the pit was the most money a lad with no qualifications could make. But nor was it just about wages. It was about something more intangible: a sense of self, of masculinity, of community. Or as they said 40 years ago and keep saying in these films, it was about “the future”.

In some pit villages, there was no alternative. The pit was not simply somewhere men worked but the centre of their clubs, associations, their entire world. The soot-covered nobility of the miner’s face is easy to mythologise. But this was horrible, filthy, backbreaking work. When actual miners turned up at the benefits I attended, working-class heroism became flesh with all its less noble needs, and middle-class activists gave themselves to the cause in more ways than one.

What Scargill had on his side was his ability to command flying pickets; his refusal to hold a national ballot, though, meant the fragmentation of the workforce. The Nottinghamshire miners, for instance, wanted to keep working as they considered the strike unconstitutional without a national ballot. The result was that, in some pits, strike-breakers were bussed in on coaches with grills over the windows for protection. It allowed Thatcher and the Tory press to paint the strike as nothing more than mob rule based on violence and intimidation. And so an industrial dispute became an existential one, a battle between good and evil. The revelation that NUM funds were sequestered, as part of its dodgy dealings with Gaddafi, only further undermined the cause.

The identification of miners with their own local area rather than their whole industry is what for some Marxists call the “deterritorialisation” of capital. This division was further exploited by David Hart, the sinister figure who appears as Stephen Sweet in David Peace’s fantastic novel GB84 and is often referred to as “the Jew”. This super-rich, Right-wing libertarian told Thatcher that a deal didn’t need to be struck, that the miners could be defeated. He set about funding and aiding those who wanted to go back to work. An actual enemy within? Certainly, this was the state intervening in a highly suspect manner. The government distanced themselves from him as soon as possible.

Their other shocking intervention, and one they couldn’t distance themselves from, were the new “techniques” of policing. The police were now being sent across the country, and actively and brutally working to protect the interests of “capital”. This was not a neutral peacekeeping force. They could now use roadblocks to turn away anyone they deemed to be a flying picket. They could beat up miners and then arrest them; their own police footage shows them at The Battle of Orgreave where they corralled minors into a field and then charged at them with baton-wielding mounted police. This was a battle alright, medieval and one-sided. The breaking of heads, the breaking of will, the breaking of collective action. It hurt; it clearly still does.

The strike may well have taught us something about power and the strength of people standing together, but where did that idealism go? The pits were always going to close. There are just six mines left, the rest of our coal imported. Was it a fantasy that all these men could even keep their jobs in that time of deindustrialisation?

To see the fate of those abandoned places is heart-breaking. Heroin moved in, as it always does. Oh and fancy Bang & Olufsen shops. Those with big redundancy payments like to splash out on something fancy for their homes, something they can control.

The sadness of all this was apparent when I was interviewing ex-miners in a working-men’s club in the late Nineties, and every man described himself as “retired undefeated”. They had, in other words, been made redundant after the strike. Now they were at home mostly looking after the kids, though they did not want to say that. They had turned down jobs in service industries because they were from a generation who thought that men’s work was manual work.

It was a Sunday lunchtime in the club, so there were strippers. Only a few women were there, and the men called them “pudding burners” — as they were out instead of making the Sunday lunch, as they should be. I wondered a bit about what kind of community we were all busy “protecting”, having seen the remarkable resilience of the miners’ wives during the strike. It turned out that many of the women now had two or three jobs and were getting by. They had adapted in a way some of the guys just couldn’t.

Perhaps all this has something to do with the difficulty of admitting that you were once on the losing side — and the fact that it’s still hard to understand what that even means. Something bigger than the closure of certain coal mines was at stake here. It was, after all, as much a story of demoralisation as deindustrialisation. This country lost the idea that the working man or woman could ever really win again, and that wound still weeps.


Suzanne Moore is an award-winning columnist and journalist. She won the Orwell Prize in 2019.

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Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago

More left wing m**turbation.
I was born and bought up in a in a mining area not London. My home backed onto a slag heap. When I was very young I spent my holidays at one of the local pits where my grandmother worked as a colliery nurse. During the summer of 1984 I spent every week day down the gym with striking miners. When the strike started to brake the working miners had to arrange for their children to be escorted to school. If there was violence then it invariably started with he strikers.
The reason why Scargill refused to call a ballot was because he would not have won it and his agenda was not so much about the members of his union and more about bringing down a Conservative Government, the flying pickets were just mob violence and the police tactic were justified and proportionate. What was the alternative surrender to the mob?
Call yourself a journalist

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
2 months ago

A situation that is not so different from today and the train drivers’ union, Aslef.
The press has described the current “industrial action” as a strike over pay and working arrangements.
In a more candid moment those involved have said the purpose of the strike is to bring down the government.
Given that is the underlying objective it is no surprise that the strike has now entered its third calendar year.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I cannot agree. Whatever some people may say in private occasional closures of the (much reduced) rail network cannot hope to achieve what an indefinite total closure of the main supplier of raw materials for power generation could conceivably have achieved.

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

The irony is that IF we need coal, the shattering of the myth of man made CO2 driven apocalyptic climate change means we could use it and not worry about the CO2 – in fact perhaps we should rejoice at the CO2 for it is greening the planet, not warming it.
The lies the left/WEF Young leaders tell are not standing up to the test of time. The worrying question is just how bad will things have to get before we kick out not just Cameron’s Heirs to Blair Tories, but the Nu Labour Heirs to Blair.
We should be building blast furnaces in Port Talbot, not closing them down. The only G20 country that won’t be able to produce steel from ore has one of its Generals telling us we must mobilise the population for war. Are we all going to be carrying wooden guns if that happens?

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Yes. And senior age and disability won’t let us off. If you’re fit enough to enjoy that adventure holiday in Thailand you’re fit enough to do shifts at the munitions factory. I mean,think about it,all my life I’ve been told,by tv history,by feminist writings etc how the first world war liberated women from.domestic service and unchained them from the stove in the kitchen. Now,well paid jobs were available. Places of manufacture were being turned over to making weaponry. Now women could have these well paid jobs and learn independence from men. That happened in WW2 as well. But actually any woman who didn’t have a good enough exemption reason HAD TO work at these places,even if you had anti-war leanings. And there was no Health and Safety back then. And might not be next time. The Pankhursts,the two In your Face ones made a Faustian deal in order to get “the vote” thus they had to promote and support dragooning women into the manufacture of death and present it in a positive way. That positive spin.has been the accepted line all through the 20th century. It could happen again.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

You cannot agree that they said their aim is to bring down the government, or you cannot agree that they could succeed?

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

They could not succeed even if they tried, but they are not trying. It is an industrial dispute over pay and conditions. Lynch is being honest when he says that. The rest is just chatter.

Terence Davis
Terence Davis
2 months ago

SPOT ON. Scargill demanded an unsustainable level of pay increase for the miners. Not for THEIR benefit but as a political tool. Thatcher realised that British coal was going to be ridiculously expensive and possibly in interrupted supply, so the alternative was to get a supply of coal from overseas, just to ensure the power stations would keep going. She didn’t want a repeat of 1974 when Heath capitulated to Joe Gormley and the NUM, and we had the 3 day week and power cuts.

JOHN CAMPBELL
JC
JOHN CAMPBELL
2 months ago

As a Lancashire miner’s son, I fully agree with you.

Mrs R
MR
Mrs R
2 months ago

Well said.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago

Right from the start EVERYBODY knew it wasn’t about jobs or coal,it was a battle between two ideologies. We all knew Mrs Thatcher intended to kill union power and we all knew Mr Scargill was right but repulsive.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
3 months ago

The English are said to know when to compromise, so if Scargill had let those 20 mines close in the mid-80s, what would the landscape look like today? I ask this as an Australian who periodically wonders how we would fare Downunder if we ever run out of things to dig up.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

I doubt it would have stopped at just the 20, it would have kept going until they were all shut.
The Aussie mines are interesting though. Thatcher smasher the British mines because they were supposedly unprofitable (putting thousands out of work and destroying entire towns which never recovered, whilst leaving us having to import coal), yet Australia manages to make a fortune from its mining industry despite having much stronger unions, much higher wages, extremely strict health and safety and having to fly people in and out to the work.
I still believe that it was an ideological decision to shut the mines (and destroy the unions) rather than a simple economic one

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The vast majority of Australian coal mining is open cast. They more or less drive an excavator round in a circle and scoop it up.

Much cheaper, easier and safer than deep shaft mining which formed the majority of mining left in the UK by this time. You have to drill a shaft, take men and equipment down, drill tunnels into the seam, shore them up, pump out water, avoid explosive/poisonous gasses, get the men and coal up to the surface etc etc.

And of course the easiest seams had been exhausted so it was getting harder and more expensive to mine.

Matt F
MF
Matt F
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Australian coal is generally higher grade, including much metallurgical coal for blast furnaces, more plentiful, and lacking the geological problems (discontinuities in seams hindering the use of long wall mining methods, etc) common in the UK, so is generally much lower cost. It was said during the 80’s that Australian coal could be mined and shipped to the UK for the same cost as bringing it to the surface at some local mines, and though that’s probably an exaggeration, there’s some truth in that.
It’s important to point out that UK opencast coal operations, on the other hand, were always internationally cost competitive and have only been brought to an end in recent years by the virtual impossibility of obtaining planning permission for new sites and falling local demand due to the closure of coal fired power stations.
Given the obvious reliance on coal (Australian and otherwise) from the world’s now largely Asian based heavy industry, on which those nations currently chasing “Net Zero” indirectly rely, I think coal mining in Australia will be around for a while yet.

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt F

Let’s all go and live in a hut in the woods,sleep on a straw pallet and get our water from the muddy little stream.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“I doubt it would have stopped at just the 20, it would have kept going until they were all shut.”

That’s probably true, but managed and staggered closures woulda/coulda been a more palatable outcome.

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

That sounds reasonable and sensible – if it really has been about coal.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I get fed up of reminding people to check the history of mine-closing. Wilson was the worst.

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The ideological decision was the economic decision. You cannot separate the two in Thatcher’s mind; they are one and the same. Her ideology was the free market. This necessarily means letting uncompetitive industries suffer their fate and that’s exactly what she did with the mines. She didn’t shut the mines; the mines shut themselves. What she did was refuse to take any more money from good business to spend on bad businesses because she understood basic economics.
“Leaving us having to import coal,” means British consumers and industry pay less for their coal than they otherwise would. That means a better standard of living for British consumers and cheaper costs for British industry, which in itself means a better living standard for those involved with British industry. The argument against protectionism was made long ago and really doesn’t need to be repeated. I would hope Unherd readers are not school children.
Mining in Australia is profitable because it is easier to extract. Not all mines are profitable in Australia, however, and they either don’t get built or collapse. There is no sentimentality.

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The fact that you didn’t know that the open cast mine in Nottinghshire (IIRC – I visited it once and was impressed with the size of the Wabco’s hauling the coal) wasn’t closed and it was the ‘deep mines’ that closed suggests that perhaps we shouldn’t take much notice of your ‘opinions’ on the matter?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Labour had started closing down mines before Thatcher got in.
The ideology on display was that of Scargill and co who saw the strikes as a weapon to destroy the government. Thatcher, quite rightly, wasn’t going to bow to that (like previous governments had) and most of the public supported her.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The high wages of Australia are not without consequence.

Much of the output is very higher priced as a result and I worked in a nickel mine in western Australia which closed because it could not compete with Canada, which is not exactly a third world country with poverty wages as the unions will allege when they’re blamed for uncompetitive demands.

denz
D
denz
2 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Look no further than Germany, who had the same problems with coal mines, yet you hear nothing of any struggle, because there was none. The government did not have to break the unions and the unions did not try to bring down the government. In fact, they both recognised reality, that pits were done, outmoded, and the workforces were helped, retrained. No scab houses there!

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  denz

You hear nothing probably because Germany is full of inconvenient truths that our Remain and Left Wing don’t want known. Checking out the current state of Germany and you can understand why Remainers and Greens don’t want it known. The EU and the Greens have ripped the heart out of Europe’s ‘China’ and it is de-industrialising and de-democratising at alarming rates. Sadly our political Elite Uniparty are too dumb to see the opportunity. Scrap Net Zero – tell fossil fuel companies to drill, frack, mine and pump then offer the German companies currently pulling out of Germany and heading for the US and China the chance of coming to the UK where we have scrapped the Carbon taxes and the Green insanity and Energy is going to become much cheaper. Industrial Revolution Mk2 ?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Germany is quietly drilling for more gas, but it has limited reserves. They’ve also gone ahead with LNG import terminals. The use of a ready-made floating LNG plant fast-tracked this in the wake of the Ukraine war and it is already running.
https://www.vermilionenergy.com/de/heimische-produktion/
https://www.offshore-energy.biz/deutsche-energy-terminal-to-take-charge-of-lng-infrastructure-in-brunsbuttel/

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 months ago
Reply to  denz

Unions in Germany are very different. They recognise a common good in their employer’s prosperity, rather than a short-term opportunity for power.

David McKee
DM
David McKee
3 months ago

Suzanne Moore is a fantastic journalist. I make a point of reading her weekly column in the Telegraph. I don’t always agree with her, although frequently I do. But she always says something interesting and thought-provoking.

That said, Mr. Rodenydo is right. There’s a whiff of “Gone with the Wind” about this piece. Scargill wanted the strike to be the people vs. the bosses. It ended up as a civil war within the working class. The working class lost.

The unions overreached themselves, and were neutered. Effectively, they exist only in the public sector today. They are pretty useless – look at the part they didn’t play in the subpostmasters vs. the Post Office.

The economy changed. Working patterns changed. The unions failed to evolve to meet people’s needs. There is a gap in society where the unions used to be. What will fill it?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

That might very much depend upon the nature of work itself; how it evolves and how we (as societies, both Western & Eastern) adapt to new technologies.
When thinking of unionism, the idea derives from “trades” which people (initially men) took on for life, hence the inability of miners to adapt once the rug was pulled from under them. Trades still exist, but not in a collective sense; rather in the sense of individual skills (the artisan), or people have ‘portfolio’ careers which simply don’t lend themselves to the type of unionism that this article refers to.
There’s also the issue of who sets the employment agenda. The old type of ‘capitalist’ who provided work for thousands through manufacturing is also becoming extinct. This is something that’s resulting in Marxism being left behind, with those who still adhere to its tenets increasingly out of touch.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I wonder if modularisation and automation aren’t taking the craft out of trade skills. When I did my apprenticeship *cough* 40 years ago, we used to fix things; now we unplug broken things and plug in replacements. Hardly the acme of masonic master-craftsmanship. The loss of the car industry here has also taken a chunk out of our skills pool. And companies also have got rid of maintenance crews and contract out. But I feel like I’m veering madly into the wilds of “in my day” so I’d better stop.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
2 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

No problem with “in my day” comments because it brings some perspective into the discussion.

Caradog Wiliams
CW
Caradog Wiliams
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Don’t forget that unions existed in manufacturing, in closed shops even, where you only had to be an employee, not have a trade.
I was Production Manager in a factory for several years and dealt daily with the local union officials. On the whole the union officials were fantastic and tried to follow the management’s line of thinking, where possible. But, with hindsight, when the union officials strongly disagreed they were always right and the management proved to be wrong. At the local level there was no left-wing politics – that was reserved for the national leaders, who saw themselves as above everybody else.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Another good perspective. When unions existed to serve their membership, they could be seen as valuable partners in industry, trying to ensure better/safer working conditions and prevent exploitation. Once they became engaged in trying to play national politics (and some still are) it became counterproductive.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 months ago

The British unions never realised the advantages of Empire and the problems of loss, the closure of the Suez Canal post 6 Day War and rise of transistors, electronic control systems and CAD/CAM in the late 1960s. The combination of factors meant to survive, a workforce had to be educated and trained to move from un and semi skilled to skilled /craft. In the 1970s, the TUC was still 70% un and semi skilled eg TGWU and Jack Jones.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

This could be true but it only considers manufacturing. Nowadays people are supposed to be ‘services’ and not labourers.
Today most unions represent ‘industries’ which are state-controlled or at least part of the mechanism of the state. Skills are indeed less physical but I’m not sure how they work on a skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled framework. Is answering a phone skilled? Is driving a train semi-skilled? Is looking at an email skilled? Is sending out a new passport skilled?

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago

Old definition- unskilled- 6 months training, semi-skilled 3 years, craft/skilled 5 years and extra 2 years for master level.
City and Guilds have finished and National Vocation Qlaification have ben introduced. NVQ 1 and 2swemiskilled , NVQ3 skilled bu standards lower than C and G.
Real test compare with Switzerland; 3 years to be a lorry driver but practically a diesel mechanic and shop assistant can speak 3 languages.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago

Everybody OUT!

Dave Smith
DS
Dave Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I wrote to Scargill and told him he was being set up and needed to stop and think . Thatcher was well prepared. New loops had been put in on key railway lines so that imported coal could flood in. Stocks were at the highest ever. He never replied. Funnily enough at the weekend I had a conversation with a man who was a young soldier then. What he told me was something that he had never thought right. As far as I know that is still never admitted by those in power. The ruling class knew that with the miners smashed they had a clear run at the future with a new type of feudalism based on poor wages and debt. Just listen to them braying at the WEF or in the Commons. As for me I think it is still us against them except now them are getting just a bit scared. When the 1 % of any society take most of the wealth then trouble always comes. They call this misinformation or malinformation instead of what it really is which is reality
Dave S.

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

To me the miners strike is the most obvious example of the change the UK went through under Thatcher – from post war consensus to neoliberalism. But the change was so enormously destructive for many that the hatred of Thatcher for pushing through that change still exists today.

It was necessary at the time as the previous system was no longer functional, and the rest of the population benefitted – the UK was much better off at the end of the 80s than at the start. But now, four decades later, we are mired in debt, individually and collectively, and many are working like dogs whilst someone else gets most of the money. Neoliberalism is no longer working but I see no Thatcher figure to come along and shut down the failing system and bring in a new one.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

When Blair was renationalising the Railways, I happened to be working as a contractor in South Wales and a Union Rep came up thinking I was a new recruit and asked if I was in the Union. We got to chatting as it happened to be lunch time and it turned out he wasn’t any old Union Rep, but was quite high up in the branch and was doing a sort of ‘Royal Visit’ – rather like PM’s do ‘helping out’ at the coalface (sic). It so happened that because he asked me what I was doing the conversation occurred, I was collecting data on the Rail assets for a national database. Even then, despite many years of Nationalisation, each ‘region’ of BR was basically a relic of the privatised companies before nationalisation. It was also fascinating to note two things.
a) Railway workers then love railways – many had taken shares, and weren’t too impressed with Blair’s offer to get them back!
b) The biggest ‘intellectual’ asset of the Railways was the local knowledge of the railmen, both the S&T men and the Track men.
When we got to the ‘renationalisation’ the Union Rep was interesting. I said to him “Why don’t you approach the Government, and ask for the Railways to be made into a co-operative, and handed over to the Rail Unions to run – you have ALL the knowledge in the heads of your members and I’m being paid to get at it and put it in national database.
He was horrified, “We don’t want to run the Railways!” he said, and quickly disappeared to meet some of his actual members. I always thought that a missed opportunity for the Left. They could have shown us an alternative to capitalism, but never did.
Another irony, the Region was basically God’s Wonderful Railway – GWR, the very company who in 1847 produced the Workers Medical Fund, which, 100 years later in 1947, was the inspiration behind the formation of the NHS.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

When was “Blair renationalising the railways” then ?
Railtrack opportunistically confiscated from shareholders by Gordon Brown. Railway companies weren’t re-nationalised were they though ? Heavily state-subsidised with ludicrous situations like government ministers ordering/choosing trains – yes. Actual government ownership – no.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

We seem to have miles of private, ‘heritage’ steam railways run by an army of elderly nutters. Perhaps they should run the whole thing?
I gather in recent years they have been even building 100mph* steam locomotives from scratch! Whatever next!

(*miles per hour or 160km per hour for Eurofreaks.)

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago

And VERY efficiently run. Good old West Somerset Heritage Railway.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Unions do not want ultimate responsibility.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

The National Health Service was a wonderful creation and a miracle to so many at the time but as I now see, it’s creation was a cheap trick to keep the workers onside,basically a sop thrown,or a bribe paid,to kid the working class that their horrific experience of the War was worth it and meant something. THEY knew if all the returning men and Rosie the Riveter women got back to Blighty to be told “as you were ” “normal service will be resumed” there would be serious.civil unrest,so they pretended to institute a more level,fairer society,and I guess I was one of the beneficiaries of that being of that post war born generation who grew up and lived the major portion of my life in a world that seemed ordered and unchanging and ever would be,until it wasn’t. The fact is all the other European countries spent their Marshall Aid on rebuilding their economies. Only us Brits blew the lot on creating the NHS and left it entirely to private industry to rebuild the economy. And the result. Everyone deplores our society and as soon as they can decamps to live in France mostly,but maybe another European country,the attraction being the slow, traditional way of life,the local communities,the traditional agriculture and small farms. (Inefficient,loss making and unproductive in USA terms but if so why is food in USA now,basic store cupboard food way more expensive in USA than here when they spent decades telling us lot to automate up and maximize farm size,so much for USA high efficiency,high production for cheap food at low cost input).
The creation of the NHS sad to say I now realize was a trick to make the war seem worthwhile.

Graeme Archer
GA
Graeme Archer
3 months ago

“everyone I knew in London supported the miners. We hated Thatcher ”
I’d never have guessed it, either from Ms Moore’s own body of work, or that of her former confreres (before they turned on her for clinging to a last vestige of objective reality.) Ms Moore makes no mention of David Wilkie, the taxi-driver killed by striking miners.

Scargill was an anti-democrat and the miners’ strike was indeed one of the last times that the decent majority in this country took on the “enemy within” – the snarling communists who loathe democracy and our institutions, *not* the working-classes – and won. Would that our leaders had half the back-bone of the Thatcher! There’s a reason that the Useless Left hated her, as much as the actual Communists did. Because she (metaphorically) ate them alive, twee home-made badges and all.

denz
denz
2 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Archer

I remember well the boarded up and graffiti covered ruins of the “scabhouses”.
More than Orgreave, or the heroics of the miners wives, or “snowmen against pit closures”, these stark monuments to despair signify the empty promises made, and communities destroyed in spite of it all.

Martin M
MM
Martin M
3 months ago

For all their wailing and gnashing of teeth at the travails of the coal miners, the modern Left would have shut the mines in pursuit of “Net Zero”. Sure, there would have been a bit of waffling about “creating Green jobs”, but the net result would have been the same.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Exactly.
They are attempting to do just that with the oil and gas industry.

P N
PN
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

And the private education industry. Labour want to close down industries for ideological reasons which is very different from allowing them to close down due to market forces.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Allowing market forces to dictate what does and does not close is also ideological. Seems your definition of non-ideological is any government action that maximises private profit. We could privatise all healthcare tomorrow and claim that putting people’s lives entirely in the hands of the market is a non-ideological option but I reckon you’d have a tough time convincing people of that.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

British coal was £ 42/T and World price was £32/T so this increases cost of energy and steel. Most steel is low grade for lower value engineering such as car panels, steel girders and merchant ships, so cost of raw materials and energy greater percentage of total cost. Steel used in springs of Swiss watches is very high quality but cost of raw materials and energy small fraction of total cost due cost of skilled labour.
One way of looking at productions cost is cost per mass, £/Kg. a Swiss watch weighs 0.1Kg and costs at least £5k; this is £50K/kg. Steel girder weighing 10T is not worth 10,000 Kg/0.1 x £5K =£500M.
Aspect was delays in delivery of ships from British yards, their many faults and they could not build the large oil and bulk carriers as quickly and cheaply as the Japanese and South Koreans. Reduced demand for ships , less demand for steel and less demand for coal.
Unions, politicians and business leaders could have studied the technical training, factories, shipyards, mines and , steel works in the USA, Germany, Japan and South Korea and observed how are competitors were progressing but they chose not to.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Thanks for this CH. Respect for knowing what you’re talking about (more than me on this issue it seems) and it sounds like an opportunity missed where they could have ‘modernised’ in the way of other countries (to use a term which is so often also just shorthand for reducing quality and firing people).
I’m still not convinced however that the mines should have been shut down as suddenly as they did without any consideration for what those people who worked in them should have done afterwards. Even if they’d become a drain on state resources (like our housing benefit-stuffed landlords today), there was a duty to not allow disaffection and idleness to fester and instead to provide some proper retraining programs for those who were able and for those too old to do so perhaps a chance to continue their work in the pits, living out the rest of their working lives with purpose and dignity. ‘Coal not dole,’ as one slogan went. You probably agree: most people don’t want money for nothing (although many among the super-rich are very good at getting it) but to be effective in some form of skilled labour.

John Dewhirst
John Dewhirst
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Would you have wanted to work in the pits or in a dirty mill, let alone aspired for your own kids to do so? The old industries found themselves not only losing markets but also recruits who wanted to work in them as a matter of free choice and ambition.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  John Dewhirst

You raise an important concern about working conditions (generally grim of course in this case) and decreasing interest in the work, but it doesn’t address the sense of disaffection and abandonment felt by many miners suddenly thrown out of work.
Fewer and fewer people wanted to be miners – sure. But your argument is only an effective response to mine if you can show that suddenly all miners wanted to stop being miners at the same time Thatcher kicked them out of work. Get the evidence that they were relieved and grateful to Thatcher for closing down the mines and you’ve got yourself a book of groundbreaking historical revisionism. Who knows. But I doubt it, going by our ex-miner-turned-tour guide at the Welsh national coal museum last October. He was not positive about the work in the mines admittedly, but he was even less positive about ‘she’ who closed them. I even asked him if anyone enjoyed the work and he said ‘no, it’s work ennit? Do you like your job?’ and I said ‘only about a fifth of the time.’
For many the worst thing after not having a job is having a job and I feel this applied to those working in the pit in Blaenavon as much as to loads of other people up and down the country.

Ted Ditchburn
TD
Ted Ditchburn
2 months ago
Reply to  John Dewhirst

My father was a miner, like virtually everyone before him in my family but Cumberland lost most of it’s mines in the 1960s when the Wilson Govt was in, so there’s no foundation myth for misery there.
Miners were stuffed by their own militancy. When Heath went to the polls,to ask who governs the country, and famously received the answer: “Not You.” It was the miners ‘wot won it’. and nobody seemed to mind.
But when another even worse era of militancy began in the late seventies and eventually unruly unions toppled Callaghan, the country was well ready to be shot of them.
They prepared the way for Thatcher and empowered with public approval.
They were victims of their own hubris really, they thought they couldn’t lose and started the strike at the wrong time and couldn’t hold out eventually.
Mines are something virtually all politicians bang on about but hardly any would go down and work in them.
If we had mines now it would probably be largely mechanised robots doing it all, and the blokes would still be in the bookies and the pub, or rather, these days putting bets on all sorts at home, with some tins from Aldi.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

We should move to Under Ground Coal Gasification
Underground coal gasification – Wikipedia
Prof Paul Younger FR.Eng of Newcastle and Glasgow U did much work on it.
NCB could have been changed into an international mining company, undertaking design ,build and operate mines in foreign countries. However, how many miners would want to learn a foreign language and customs and live overseas for years? Top people in mining companies with doctorates in science and engineering can speak 5 to 6 langauges .
The writing was on the wall in the mid 1960s when many of the top mining engineers went overseas as they knew there was no future in the UK. Talk to any recruiters, when talent leaves an organisation it is on the way down, when it is entering , it is on the way up.
The same for the UK, ever since the late 19th century talent has been leaving the UK. From craftsmen to top engineers and scientists talent fled the UK from 1945, the Brain Drain.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

That’s quite a claim there at the end, which I’ve never heard. If I remember correctly, the need for more technical colleges is one of your key talking points? Would more of these have prevented the brain drain? Or did more need to be done to retain the talent, like higher wages or more international ambition (despite the English aversion to learning the foreign languages necessary for this)?

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I think here you make a good point which applies more broadly to many ex industrial areas of Britain. It isn’t a unique problem to the UK, but we did happen to have heavy industrial development focussed in particular regions mainly in the Midlands and North of England, the Central Belt of Scotland and South Wales. These regions sometimes for the first time became relatively wealthy and essential to the nation. However they were often dependent on one main industry. This made the, probably inevitable, eventual process of deindustrialisation all the more difficult.

It isn’t the case that nothing was done; there was a converted effort to bring in new industries and businesses. But this wasn’t enough, and in addition there was sometimes an understandable if misplaced pride against taking up new employment, which wasn’t essentially seen as men’s proper work

I think we have to concede it would have been a huge challenge for any government. Yes, perhaps heavier subsidies could have been given, but how sustainable would this have been over the longer term?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

‘Probably inevitable’ – it’s exactly which word should go before inevitable here that intrigues me. You say provisions and attempts to create new industries were made but looking online I cannot find anything – is there information you could point me towards? My hunch is that deindustrialisation was not inevitable and that a coherent industrial strategy not shy of picking winners (such as occurred in South Korea in the 1960s) was blocked by a PM ideologically opposed to nationalised industries (and, more tragically given its crisis today, housing).
After all, as that famous anecdote goes, during one Conservative Party meeting she took Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty out of her handbag, slammed it down on the table and said ‘this is what we believe.’ That, together with the tight links she kept with the IEA, are enough to suggest to me that deindustrialisation could have been averted or at least handled more productively.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

A lot of those benefit stuffed housing landlords are in Parliament in either house so they are the real benefit scroungers.

P N
PN
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

“Capitalism is not an ‘ism.’ It is closer to being the opposite of an ‘ism,’ because it is simply the freedom of ordinary people to make whatever economic transactions they can mutually agree to.” – Thomas Sowell

The ideology of which you speak is freedom.

The Government does not take action to maximise profit. Government inaction is what maximises private profit.

Of course asking people to pay for their own healthcare would be unpopular. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is always a vote winner among the Pauls. As it happens I think we should pool our health risk just not as we currently do.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Yes perhaps we can’t dignify it with an ‘ism,’ just as the anything-goes, law of the jungle is not an ‘ism.’ And as you know, any coercive dimensions to these transactions are not washed away by the magic of consent as liberals like to believe. We don’t assume say that because they agree to being one that most prostitutes really want to be prostitutes, when 90% (in Ireland at least) don’t want to be.
But look, it’s not that I don’t believe people should be able to make free economic transactions or that all enterprise is bad (I fully acknowledge that the profit motive can create prosperity and fulfilment), I’m just never sure what followers of Hayek and von Mises are imagining when you call for a night-watchman state or anarcho-capitalist society that is somehow going to work without a state safety net. Those I’ve spoken to like you often seem strong on principles/theoretical game theory scenarios and weak on actual case studies. Though I’ll acknowledge that in much of pre-history it seems (from Graeber’s other book, The Dawn of Everything) that people have for tens of thousands of years lived in a spirit of cooperation with minimal coercion from something that could be described as a state. The only problem is how do you recreate that at dense demographic scale, given the composition of humanity today.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

In the UK we can look back at well organised government from the time of Alfred the Great and see what works and what does not. The power hungry, venal, incompetent cowardly and lazy can turn any organisation into a shambles. The success and failures of the RN from Henry VIII to today show how to produce a superb organisation and how to ruin one.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Regarding human cooperation, yes, this is a feature of the most basic band societies, which was the form of human social structure for 99% of modern humans’ existence on Earth. However this is crucially “within group” cooperation. Each band or tribe tends to be extremely wary, or even often actively hostile, to its neighbours. Warfare is endemic in such societies. See Jared Diamond’s book.”The World Until Yesterday” for example. So both “left” and ‘right” wing accounts of human interaction have their validity.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

With you on left and right wing accounts of human interaction having their validity, but not that war is endemic in hunter-gatherer societies. In Graeber’s The Dawn of Everything it’s argued that there some regions (I think in North America) were without war for centuries, whilst many hunter-gatherer groups cooperated and traded in extensive networks, coming together at points in the season for communal projects (like building stone henge) and then returning to their native clans for the rest of the year.
Jared’s book I haven’t read but would like to. His account in Collapse of how most of the indigenous people of Easter Island killed each other in a civil war I know has been discredited by Rutger Bregman in Humankind, so I wonder if he takes a dimmer view of human nature than Graeber (not that the latter sees pre-agricultural society as edenic – he gives lots of examples of farming communities which seem to have been more peaceful than those based on hunting). In any case, it seems that the Hobbes-Rousseau tussle (and guesswork – their historical accounts of our origins were only ever based on conjecture after all) over our true nature is still alive and well.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I read Humankind and at first I found it impressive but then it started to get repetitive and his theme sounded forced and like he was twisting facts to suit his theory. People are essentially kind and cooperative but also driven by unreasonable passion and unnassuageble desire. Nice people can murder politely and with a smile to get some object of desire that once attained becomes dross and a source of unresolvable regret and sorrow. We’ve all been there.
LOL!!!!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I could possibly agree with you. However, there is only so long that governments, businesses, or indeed individuals, can ignore key factors, such as the differential price of minerals, goods and services from different sources.

For example, we could have perhaps built more hospitals were the price of a key fuel, still in the 70s and 80s including coal, was cheaper. Or maybe paid higher benefits or lowered taxes. Just saying the state can afford every social political and economic desideratum is absurd and has always come crashing down when confronted by reality, even in the Soviet Union.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

‘saying the state can afford every social political and economic desideratum is absurd’ – don’t think I am saying this. Though I do think it’s worth the state investing in areas that are guaranteed to reap a return, like council housing.

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Ideology v. Common Sense. The former wins out.

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Imagine sending your kid to a school where in 30 years time his social network,formed at school will be Dwayne the drug dealer,Kerz (Kerry) the multiple single Mum,and Connor the violent offender,but he loves his dog.i read the autobiography of Dennis Healey,once Chancellor of The Exchequer in the 1960s. It was immensely useful for him that practically all his schoolmates from the Grammar School he went to up north were now in influential positions in industry,the diplomatic service or other places where they could get him an In,to discuss or implement policy,get inside information,make discreet contact with foreign powers,all sorts. It was a striking picture of the Old Boys network and THAT is what Private Education is for,that’s what as a Parent you’re paying for,or wise parents are. The factual academic part is good but not primary. If you’re bright enough and charismatic enough you have people to do all that for you.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Fair point

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It’s true that Kinnock was neutral re the strikes, but members of his party like Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner did back the miners and so you can expect Labour’s treatment of them to have been better. I agree that Starmer today does not make as good an offer of Green Jobs as Corbyn did under the Green New Deal, but the party is pledging a £2.5bn British Jobs Bonus and a publicly-owned green energy company (GB Energy), as well as looking into ways of raising salaries for social care workers, so it looks likely that once again Labour will renew its record on better serving working people’s interests than any Conservative govt ever has.
(although of course the latter think that they do so by aping the supposedly ‘anti-woke’ opinions of the working class, which they are hoping amount to no more than an all-consuming obsession with refugees and trans people at the expense of any regard for their own rights and material welfare, a subject on which this government is wisely silent given their constant prioritising of wealth over work).

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

and yet the NHS was a copy , a century later, of the GWR Medical Fund for its workers. The GWR fund was started in 1847. The Left must think we are all idiots. It is the working men who suffer and whose taxes will pay for the Green subsidies that Government employees enjoy. Show me a socialist paradise. Venezuela reputedly the owner of the most extensive oil fields on the planet, eclipsing the opulent, rich Saudi Arabia, is a poverty stricken place who have destroyed their oil industry and impoverished their people. Thatcher may have had her drawbacks, but she did away with the BL and Red Robbo money pit and ensured a proper car factory arrived in Sunderland. The BL factories in Liverpool were fascinating. As a student in the summer I often drank with the Friday afternoon shift in a local bar. That’s where some spent their afternoon shift. “The Monday early shift can finish our work off.” I vaguely remember being told the first time I mentioned that their dinner break was almost over.
That is also where I learned why so many red cars BL appeared in their storage area. “If we are behind and we need to hit bonus targets, we don’t swap paint colours, that is a pain, or if we do because he had a special colour order, we swap to red – it’s the easiest to spray.”
This article is a starry eyed piece of propaganda for Starmer. Simplistic too but then the product of today’s Universities are often frighteningly ignorant about many aspects of reality. Whilst naivety from new graduates isn’t a new phenomenon, the ignorance underlying vast swathes of the Green/Left agenda is considerably more obvious.

Pedro the Exile
P
Pedro the Exile
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

pledging a £2.5bn British Jobs Bonus and a publicly-owned green energy company (GB Energy), as well as looking into ways of raising salaries for social care workers, so it looks likely that once again Labour will renew its record on better serving working people’s interests than any Conservative govt ever has.
ow is this going to “serve working peoples’s interests”?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago

Yes you heard right. Or do you prefer the Conservative policy of allowing private energy companies to reap record profits on the backs of a Britain swamped in a cost of living crisis? Go choose that future for yourself if you like.

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Yes. I do prefer this model. The private energy companies compete with each other to provide your energy thereby driving prices down for consumers. Even Marx understood this.

A public owned energy company would have to compete with the private energy companies. If it’s a green energy company, its costs are going to be higher than energy companies using fossil fuels. So the only way it can compete is through subsidies. And now we’re back to a misallocation of scarce resources with alternative uses.

It’s extraordinary that we’re still having these debates in the 21st Century. We know the public sector is inefficient. We know you cannot screw with the market. We know the socialists failed. The data are in.

“If socialists understood economics they wouldn’t be socialists.” – Hayek

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Ok interesting – give me one example of privatisation that has led to increased efficiency/lower prices for consumers? Rail? (See here) Energy? (see here) Housing? (See Peter Hitchens here) Markets that are left unregulated are incentivised to meet demand not need and are as liable to creating inefficiencies and non-jobs as government-run organisations, as David Graeber has documented in his book Bullshit Jobs.
It’s extraordinary that we’re still having this debate after 40 years of failed privatisation in the UK.

Eleanor Barlow
EB
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Unfortunately, the utilities in the UK are part of a cartel in all but name. As such, they are taking the opportunity to charge as much for their services as they think they can get away with, deliver huge bonuses to their senior managers and deliver little or nothing in return. The industry regulators are useless and/or hand in glove with managers of said industries. When they hit problems, they expect to be bailed out by the taxpayer and at no cost to their own incomes. Wholesale nationalisation may not be the answer – but nor is giving these companies total freedom to do what they like.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

I live in a local authority area that set up its own green energy company. They sunk £16 million of council tax payers money into it. It was (IMO – and not just me) one of those money transferring schemes.
I once rang them as I had to change energy company when you still could and the way my call was dealt with by the ultra posh voiced young woman told me,without saying it,that they didn’t actually WANT real customers. The words of praise of them on their online info were all from white young single mums with allotments and hand crocheted Rasta hair on cycles. Told you everything really.
SCAM. SCAM. SCAM.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I would be happy to look at evidence that energy companies might be abusing their position, though there is significant competition in the market. But so many people on the Left just deal in emotion. Private business is damned for making profits (which are then taxed to pay for the NHS, education etc). But then again, it is also damned when it makes a loss! The economic ignorance is staggering.

Do you support Net Zero? This is a policy by which western governments have been discouraging cheap and reliable energy sources – and instead supporting intermittent ones such as wind and solar. If you do, shouldn’t the prices of hydrocarbon fuels indeed rise, to dissuade people from using them?

The Let’s position on this is totally incoherent – I certainly concede that the Tories are hardly better.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

So speaking as what it seems I can assume to be one of ‘so many people on the Left [who] just deal in emotion,’ I do not damn private businesses for making profits (you’ve forgotten one of my comments above embracing the profit motive), but I do think they should be held accountable when they fail to deliver more efficient and affordable services than the nationalised companies they’ve replaced when that replacement was made with the explicit purpose of delivering more efficient and affordable services.
And yes I suppose I do support a version of Net Zero in that I think we should move towards a greener, more self-sufficient economy (I know there’s a whole debate here about whether renewables are really unreliables which seems to hinge entirely on different forecasts over how quickly we can develop the battery capacity of the national grid), although I don’t support doing so in a way that makes the poor poorer (as most people commenting on here assume is it’s raison d’etre), which seems to be the case where the centre-right are implementing it e.g. through fuel tax in the case of Macron (at least way back during the unrest of the yellow vests).
So no, as a social democrat I’m obviously looking for a greener future that proves to be a rising tide that lifts all boats (read: green jobs, proper insulated housing etc). And yes, some of that money to fund that will have to come from the very richest, which this government, being in their pockets, is afraid to do, hence the more regressive forms of Net Zero they prefer to pursue.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago

I suppose you take the time-honoured and well-evidenced view that lowering wages is the way to help people in working poverty.

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

I suppose you take the time-honoured and well-evidenced view that unemployment and welfare is the way to help people escape poverty.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Interested to hear your case studies showing that raising minimum wage makes everyone worse off, when in fact it benefits not only employees but employers also, as ordinary people have more money in their pockets to buy their goods.
And yes if you define welfare as not having to give up more than half your salary on unaffordable rents to people who do nothing for their money (landlords) or on healthcare to companies free to charge as much as they like then yes, I do believe that these regulatory features promote dignity, prosperity and individual flourishing.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

More emotive guff. If rents are being paid, they aren’t unaffordable. High rents and house prices are a function of totally inadequate house building rates (especially given the ongoing sky high level of immigration!)

It sounds like you think buying properties for rent should be prohibited. This would be an absolute disaster for housing provision for many people. Landlords don’t “do nothing”. They own the properties rented out and are responsible for their upkeep. If they do not carry out their responsibilities they should be “encouraged” to do so it sanctioned. Renting private property is commonplace in mainland Europe. I might agree that we need more longer term landlords whose main business is the construction of long term rental housing

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

‘If rents are being paid, they aren’t unaffordable..’ Glad you’re not my landlord. Never mind you can’t afford any food, heating or children – just make sure you can cover the rent!
You’re right that prohibiting private renting overnight would be disastrous, but more council housing which would allow low income households the chance to live in decent, dignified accomodation is desperately needed. As long ago as 2012 (I can’t find more recent statistics, though I’d be heartened if you can show some that demonstrate that the situation has improved), 417,000 working people are reliant on housing benefit. With more council housing that money could be going straight back to local councils rather to private landlords whose housing is more often in disrepair.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Pay is proportional to what you earn. Skilled people working in dangerous conditions , accepting responsibility will earn more than someone doing basic admin in an office. Back in 1993 an SAS diver could earn £700 in a few hours undertaking very dangerous repair work underwater. In 1980s British miners constructing Cairo Waste Water Project earned £75K per year tax free undertaking very dangerous, arduous and dirty work. In the 1980s and 1990s freelance computer people could earn £1k/day but pay has declined because more people trained. Those excavating the piles for Canary Wharf in the 1980s were on about £50K/year.
When it comes to Health and Safety I have known many mediocre people who do nothing for safety. One outstanding person was an ex colliery manager and as friends who were foremen said to me ” It is lack of care and attention which kills .”
It is easy to draft regulation and employ people. What is difficult is to define what needs to be prevented and design systems accordingly.
One cannot define through regulation what a competent careful actually comprises. What one can do is select, train, observe and if needed, punish /or fire.
Let us look at wages. In the Middle ages an archer could earn 2d a day if he had no sword and armour, 4d with sword and armour and 6d per day with sword, armour and a horse and keep any loot. A labourers wages was 1d per day, equivalent to £30k/yr today. So an archer could earn in todays money £180K plus loot but there is no need fro archers today, nor after about 1500 due to increase in effectiveness of armour and development of guns.
Schumacher give a man a fish and feed him for a day , teach him to fish and he can feed himself.
The British Welfare, Education and Health systems fail educate and train people so they have the skills to be an independent self-reliant responsible individuals in the modern World and but have employed vast numbers of middle class white collar administrators in the process.
The Poor Laws established under Elizabeth I were highly effective,( read GM Trevelyan and A Bryant ) but could not cope with the massive growth of towns in the 19th century.

Martin M
MM
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Schumacher give a man a fish and feed him for a day , teach him to fish and he can feed himself.
I thought it was “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day”.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

We have a minimum wage, do we not? Do you consider this can be increased indefinitely without adverse economic consequences? And if it were increased generously, that no other group of workers would not try to maintain their relative position by asking for a similar percentage increase?

I wouldn’t mind so much were these emotive appeals directed at the poorest. But no, the Left champion the railway workers, train drivers and even doctors for goodness sake, to pay rises, whatever the financial or economic circumstances or productivity rates may be.

Hilariously, a few years ago, there was then a campaign trying to protect senior doctors from being caught in a higher tax bracket! “Tax the rich – unless they are doctors?!”.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Well, I think in a country where 9% of people in full time work are below the poverty line and where an increasing number of people make money purely by sitting on assets, I think a rise would be beneficial (although I think what would be more helpful is an increase in affordable housing (the surrounding crisis having been described by the IEA as the single biggest cause of poverty), commonly accepted as housing costing no more than 30% of income, not simply a rate of rent that does not exceed a pay cheque, as much as some landlords might like to think that bare bricks and mortar is the only human need).
I don’t think the Left champion railworkers and train drivers any more than they do social care workers, nurses, or supermarket workers for that matter. It’s only that better paid, less replaceable workers tend to have stronger bargaining power (and can more easily afford to strike), which is in some cases a result of their better organisation in the first place. Rather than pit these workers against those poorer than them (as the right-wing press so loves to do), those who are not on strike should take inspiration from those workers that do and demonstrate the power of organisation. When the day comes that not even a group like the RMT can exact a pay rise, what hope do those more weakly organised, worse paid workers have?
As to ‘Tax the rich – unless they are doctors?!’ I actually think people have the right to demand that jobs which they view as valuable to a community are better remunerated. I don’t see the scandal.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

It’s very bracing.

P N
PN
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

“ pledging a £2.5bn British Jobs Bonus and a publicly-owned green energy company (GB Energy), as well as looking into ways of raising salaries for social care workers”

Where does the money come from? From higher taxes, meaning a lower standard of living for everyone else.

Taking money from good businesses to give to bad businesses is a misallocation of scarce resources with alternative uses.

All of this is to the detriment of “working people’s interests”. Labour is the party of the public sector and welfare claimants, at the cost to everyone else.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

£2.5bn is nothing for a government that has annual revenue of £800+bn and already has to spend £15bn on housing benefit to line the pockets of landlords and landowners (the real shirkers in the system) because of an underegulated housing market whereby local authorities do not have sufficient powers to buy land cheaply.
And a profitable company is not necessarily a good one – it may do well through positional advantages such as patents, monopoly, greater exploitation of its workforce etc
And a profit-driven company is certainly not guaranteed to be one that is more likely to deliver better outcomes for its customers (as the privatisation failure I cited in an above comment attest).

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Patents? I don’t know how well the system works, but they are a former of copyright or protection of intellectual property. I’m not sure whether you are advocating abolishing them or not. Monopolies can be, and in fact are, regulated. (We could get into how well the State does that, but if it can’t regulate effectively, then it is difficult to see why it would be expected to run the service itself any better!)

Most of the privatisations were in fact successful – and won’t be reversed in my view even under a Labour government. State run airlines? Rail privatisation was botched and over complex but there is a lot more real consumer choice than there used to be under British Rail. The position is different with natural monopolies such as water. The problem however remains, at least in Britain, that the state is so often poor at running services itself, not least because your posts indicate, there are often purely political factors coming into play.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Not in favour of abolishing patents. Brand dominance is maybe closer to the mark here – i.e. an iphone can be sold expensively not necessarily because it is well made but because of the name (as I understand they are designed to run-down quickly so the consumer has to buy another one before long). But the point is not controversial – company success does not correlate straightfowardly with quality of product, which brings us to privatisation:
I did address this in a previous comment with links to articles making the case for how privatisation has failed in most areas (perhaps it was the deletion by unherd of this comment that led you to think all others I have made have been driven by a red rage.) In any case I will post them again by making a comment below this one. You are welcome to share any evidence you have for why you think some privatisations were a success (I’d be heartened to know it wasn’t all a disaster!).
If you cannot see it, look for my comment correcting Paddy Taylor’s misleading claim below that the Wilson administration did more damage to mining communities than Thatcher ever did (it’s at the end of that).

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

This was the comment: As to Thatcher’s general economic record, give me one example of privatisation that has led to increased efficiency/lower prices for consumers? Rail? (See here) Energy? (see here) Housing? (See Peter Hitchens here) Water? (see here) Markets that are left unregulated are incentivised to meet demand not need and are as liable to creating inefficiencies and non-jobs as government-run organisations, as David Graeber has documented in his book on Bullsh*t Jobs.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

700,000 net (not gross) immigration, without any infrastructure plan whatsoever to cater for these people, is not some minor ‘culture war’ issue with little relevance to ordinary people. Of course it leads to housing scarcity and high house prices and rents, and huge pressure on health education and other public services, as I see well in my area of South East London. This is setting aside the completely obvious – except perhaps to the wishful thinking Left – difficulties of integrating people from totally different cultures, who are then almost encouraged by our policies of multiculturalism to maintain strong links with their countries of origin.

The public – of all races – overwhelmingly want very much lower levels of migration, and have been consistent in this view for decades. They show much more sense on this crucial issue for the identity of our nation than most politicians and opinion formers. Unfortunately an unholy alliance of an essentially open borders Left – who believe fundamentally that British citizens should have no more rights than guests to this country, and a free market liberal Right who think big business should be given whatever it wants, have taken away any meaningful political choice from the issue.

By the way, it is totally illogical to claim that supporting a reduction in immigration means that people who hold those views are “xenophobic” or are “anti-immigrant”, any more than my failure to invite the whole population of my local area of Lewisham to my house means I dislike them! Also, this position is widely held in almost every country in the world (See Black South African attitudes to people coming in from Zimbabwe (fleeing would be the most appropriate word).

The Tories have certainly behaved cynically, saying one thing and doing another. They seem to believe that this clear public opinion can be fobbed off by a lot of ineffective noise. Boris Johnson – surprise! is a particularly egregious example. After winning his huge 2019 majority thanks to the Red Wall seats – he then, with his usual brazenness, actually liberalised immigration policy!. (But he is hated nonetheless by the Left as some kind of English Trump!).

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I don’t dispute that 700,000 is probably too high a rate of net migration, though I’m not in favour of targetting refugees or branding as illegal those who arrive by illegal means because of our inadequate processing system despite often having legal claims to flee here. I also have no idea why these people are taking centre stage in the discussion when they are such a small percentage of those arriving here; the bulk of arrivals are here (as you rightly say!) because of big business greedy for cheap, exploitable labour and also because of (what looks to be the intractable problem of) the birth rate crisis.

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

All the Green Jobs immediately migrated to China and they’re not coming back. Remember after 1989 and Cameron and Clinton,or whoever it was right then,their glee,now we can get trade deals with China,there’s millions of Chinese and you bet they all want cars. We’ll sell em our cars,our fashion clothes,our champagne.. Our Western business will make a fortune out of this vast new untapped market. And what did China do. Ripped off Western designs ignoring copyright laws,made all this stuff we were going to sell THEM,made it quicker and cheaper and sold it to US. And USA.decided it wasn’t so keen on Free Trade as it had been.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

the modern Left would have shut the mines in pursuit of “Net Zero”.
my first thought, too.

Lancastrian Oik
LO
Lancastrian Oik
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Today’s lefties would have the mines re-opened in a fit of nostalgia de la boue, but then contrive to have output buried again because, duh, “carbon”.

Mrs R
MR
Mrs R
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

They surely would, just as they quite contentedly saw the sacrifice of 3,000 jobs in Port Talbot steel works sacrificed to the Net Zero gods. The reverberations of those losses will take down other small businesses around the area. But let’s face it, it’s not just Net Zero,
The thing with the miners is that they stripped out the mines and gave them nothing in return, no training up for other industry because of course with the advent of the EU most of our industry and manufacturing was stripped out and relocated abroad and callously left our brilliant and skilled workforce dumped on benefits, then buried under wave after wave of Labour’s newly imported favourite constituency. As someone so eloquently put it, Tory and Labour are two cheeks of the same ****.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It’s largely forgotten now, and not mentioned in the article, but a ‘green’ issue was part of the reason for closing the mines. British coal is rich in sulfur and burning it was causing acid rain to poison lakes in Scandinavia. Retrofitting power stations with scrubbers to remove it was deemed too expensive. So in this case the economy and protecting the environment were aligned.

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

It still blows my mind that millions of British people thought the best way of stopping mine closures was to… not work.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

What other tools do workers have? Withdrawing your labour is often the only bargaining chip most of us have got

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

When it came to deep mined coal , you had as much chance as the stokers on the Titanic had of stopping it sinking. Sometimes reality defies political beliefs.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Use skills to create an international mining company, the way British Gas became an international gas company.

Alice Devitt
Alice Devitt
3 months ago

Women doing three jobs as he put his feet up? Toxic.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago

Fake history Suzanne.
I was at university in 1984 and there was very little support for the miners. We’d lived through the 1970s. Frankly, not even all the miners supported the strike (DUM in Nottinghamshire the most notable group).
Thatcher did not want a confrontation with Scargill. Scargill wanted a confrontation with Thatcher. None of us were in any doubt about that.
How she can seriously write this is beyond me:
“The Nottinghamshire miners, for instance, wanted to keep working as they considered the strike unconstitutional without a national ballot.”
It was unconstitutional. Fact. The courts ruled on this and sequestered the NUM’s funds. Suzanne Moor was clearly “present, but not involved” !
Is it “false memory”, or do I remember hearing of cases of miners rolling concrete blocks off motorway bridges during the strike ? Pretending that the miners were always peaceful and law-abiding in this dispute doesn’t ring true … “recollections may vary”.
I’m sure we all have some sympathy for the mining communities. But the largest contribution to what happened was the poor leadership of Arthur Scargill and the NUM.
Besides which, their fairweather friends at the Guardian aren’t exactly supporting these communities. Open a new coking coal mine in Workington ? Not for them.

Caractacus Potts
CP
Caractacus Potts
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I worked in haulage in Notts during the miners strike as a very young lad. Yes breeze blocks were thrown on motorways at coal haulers windscreens. A local firm had a driver permanently blinded in one eye because of it. They responded by driving their 30-ton lorries down the side of all the parked picket cars in one of the pit lanes thereby trashing them. One of their drivers showed me all the paint he’d scraped off them down the side of his lorry.
I also knew a local miner, a small bloke, getting on in years, who couldn’t face the abuse he got any longer while travelling down the pit lane. So he went though an unpoliced back entrance to the pit. Half a dozen pickets got hold of him and beat him to near-death. Even after extended hospitalisation and rehabilitation he was never the same. He never went back to work.
Peaceful pickets was indeed a total myth. It was a war zone.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

Labour closed far more pits than the Tories ever did. The miners were Luddites still basking in the glory of their martyrdom of 1926*. Lady T just administered the long overdue Coup de grâce, aided and abetted by the confrontational Scargill creature.

However very fortuitously, as the late Charles de Gaulle noted: “England is an island of coal surrounded by a sea of oil”.

Well maybe the oil running out but there is still plenty of coal, and thanks to AI we should be able to mine it on a simply astronomical scale once all this Green nonsense evaporates. We should be thankful for small mercies.

(*The General Strike.)

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago

Correct, we need more CO2, the planet needs greening, and CO2 lags not leads warming. There is also the inconvenient truth Green’s like to deny that CO2 saturates in terms of reducing heat loss into space. As Prof J Clauser warned the young Korean Scientists, avoid the Junk Science of Climate Scientists. You need to be able to solve differential equations and they seem to lack that ability.

Emmanuel MARTIN
EM
Emmanuel MARTIN
2 months ago

This is an apology of toxic masculinity. And while most dinosaurs are extinct, it seems the Marxistosaurus inteeletual is unfortunately nto an extinct species.

Simon Phillips
SP
Simon Phillips
2 months ago

I started reading until I got to the word “scabs”.
Do grow up.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago

Since the 1860s those involved in heavy industry refused to accept skills needed to be upgraded so people could move from unskilled to skilled/craft manufacturing- compare with Germany under Bismarck’s Blood and Iron Policy.While the Depression hit the areas of of heavy industry, J R Mitchell at Supermarine designed planes which won the Schneider Trophy three times. By 1936 J R Mitchell had created a team comprising the best high speed aeronautical engineers in the World based in Southampton.
The development of aeronautical engineering and advanced light engineering largely occurred in the South away from heavy engineering, the exception was Rolls Royce in Derby.
Digging sand from quarry requires little expertise and the the profits are low; designing and making silicon chips is difficult and the profits are high. Switzerland, Singapore, Japan and South Korea have few natural resources ; their wealth is created by a highly skilled hardworking population who produce high value goods.
Moore ignores the fact that Britain sold coal at £42/T when the World price was £32/T and 75% of mines were uneconomic. Much of our coal was deep mined, the face miles away from the shafts and faulting due to various moutain building periods made mechanisation more expensive than other deep mined coal. Much of the World’s coal was excavated from open cast mines which are cheaper and connected to the sea via canals( USA) or massive railway lines ( Australia ). British Coal could have changed into an international mining company but this would have required skills they lacked.
What Moore fails to understand that as one moves from un skilled low value industry to high value advanced engineering, precision and accuracy increases. The materials used are more advanced. The metals used are a result of complicated processes and new materials are always being invented. A robot arm has to move with a precision of +/- 0.01mm perhaps millions of times. The manufacturing rooms for silicon chip factories are cleaner than surgical operating theatres.
In the 1960s , Labour had a chance to upgrade Britain’s skills but putting Cousins of the TGWU in charge of Technology was a recipe for a disaster.

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Reading Tony Benn’s Autobiography is also intriguing as the assault on Thatcher for ‘squandering North Sea Oil’ is put into context. Benn was Energy Minister and he wrote in his autobiography that he regretted not stopping the ‘squandering’ of North Sea Oil in his time there, because it meant Thatcher was able to simply continue with the policies handed over when Labour was removed from office.
It reads like today’s assaults on the Tory party. They stuck with Brown’s policies of QE, low interest rates ,deficit spending. Though they made a half-hearted attempt to eliminate the deficit, the Heirs to Blair gave up at the first accusation of “Austerity”.
IF the next GE puts in Starmer, then all we have done is replaced the Tory Blu Labour monkey with the Nu Labour organ grinder. Net Zero insanity will accelerate and well will discover if, as Doomberg predicts,
“On the path from abundance to starvation is riot”
Though given Labour’s 20 point lead, I do wonder if the women of the UK are ignorant of what Labour’s Trans ideology means or just don’t believe it. I can’t believe they’d vote for what that will bring in the wake of Starmer’s accession in terms of the elimination of actual woman legally in this country.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Britain post WW2 had the leading aeronautical engineering capability in the World, led by Stanley Hooker and B Wallis. Lasbour gave it away in the 1960s. Wallis designed planes which could land and take off under 100mph, use swing wing technology to fly sub-sonic overland then reach 250,000 ft and 14,000 mph. He realised limit was skin temperature of plane at 3500C. London to sydney in 1.5 hrs, instead we built Concorde to persuade French to support entry into into EEC and then support Airbus and move production to France.
In the 1960s there was massive movement of technical skills from craftsmen to Engineers overseas due to high taxation and strikes by un and semi-skilled. At one stage MIT asked one question ” Are Imperial or Cambridge/ ”
The major problem is that the World has progressed technologically since The Great Exhibition and our leaders have not realised.

Hilton Holloway
HH
Hilton Holloway
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Not enough people know why the TSR2 military jet was cancelled by Labour after election in 1964, despite promising to keep the project going. The MoD Chief Economist after Wilson’s win was a bloke called Peston (later Lord Peston). He was an EEC fanatic and wanted the UK to be let in after being rejected mostly by the French. Within weeks of killing TSR2, he signed us up for co-operative jet project with the French which later became the Jaguar. The UK aircraft industry was very much a junior partner in the project, but the EEC fanatics cared not. We later got involved in Concorde and, eventually, after years of stop-start, the trans-Europe MRCA jet which became the Tornado.
Of course, it’s only my theory that Peston sacrificed the UK’s ability to design it’s own military jets (not something the French ever let happen) in order to get us into the EEC, but I think I’m right. Incidentally, as soon as we Brexited, we signed up with Japan to build our next jet, the Tempest. A 60 year loop back to the begining.

denz
D
denz
2 months ago

You can take the writer out of The Guardian, but it seems not The Guardian out of the writer.

The End.

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  denz

Perhaps the writers are leaving the Guardian because it is finally admitting the inconvenient truths its writers dislike?
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/dec/05/brexit-disaster-rejoining-channel-europe-economy

N Satori
NS
N Satori
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Thanks for that link. Never thought I’d see the day…

Dennis Roberts
DR
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

An excellent article – can’t believe it’s in The Guardian.

From before the vote I’ve thought Brexit would be the safety valve that would prevent the UKs slide to hatred. I never realised just how ‘patriotic’ some were towards the EU though, so it’s been more fraught than I imagined, but in the long run I still think I’ll be correct.

Not sure how the EU countries are going to get off that track though. Hopefully the UK can minimise it’s involvement in the inevitable mess.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 months ago

Back then, everyone I knew in London supported the miners. We hated Thatcher and understood this to be a battle between the capitalist state and the working class …”
You hated Mrs Thatcher because it was fashionable.
Through the 80’s it was de rigeur for students and those in the creative arts to loudly voice their hatred of “Fatcha” in over-blown Ben Elton fashion. And still most of that generation haven’t grown out of it – any mention of her name still incurs visceral loathing in many.
At a guess the vast majority of anti-Thatcher comments on the pages of your long-time employer, the Guardian, are written by people who were either unborn, or at least young kids, when she was in No.10. Most acquired their anti-thatchery by a process of cultural osmosis rather than having had any direct experience of seeing the (necessary and mostly beneficial) changes to the country that Mrs Thatcher brought. Their hatred of her is more a result of all our cultural institutions being in the hands of the left, rather than any honest critical appreciation of her premiership.
Sadly, those who control how history is presented to the next generation can rewrite the past, and have done.
Who now remembers – or ever even admits – that Harold Wilson actually closed more pits (211 in 5 years) than Mrs Thatcher (154 in 11 years). Ask people which party or PM they associate with pit closures and the vast majority will point to the Conservatives under Mrs Thatcher. But only because she had the strength to stand up to Union bosses who cared not a jot for their members yet are rembered as champions of solidarity.
But away from the miners’ strike, those who claim to ‘hate’ Margaret Thatcher have been fed the narrative that selfishness was baked into the country by Thatcherism. To “prove” this, teachers – in fact anyone on the left – trots out the line “There’s no such thing as society” … one of the most quoted lines of 20th Century British politics.
Yet see it in context and obviously it means something completely different:

“I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it: ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

The message (although phrased less elegantly) is very much akin to JFK’s famous line from his inaugural address: “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” which, I presume, would be a sentiment many would approve of, particularly at times like these.
If JFK is not their bag either, then perhaps Tony Blair, who (even less elegantly) echoed the sentiment of her comments almost exactly when he called for:

” A welfare state based on rights and responsibility where we gave opportunity to people on benefit to get into work; but demanded responsibility in return. …… We believe passionately in giving people the chance to get off benefit and into work. … But with the chance, comes a responsibility on the individual – to take the chance, to make something of their lives and use their ability and potential to the full. ….. Only in this way will we drive up social mobility, the great force for equality in dynamic market economies. To do all that, ours has to be an enabling welfare state – one which helps people to help themselves. “

Any PM worthy of the job realises that the state should be there to provide a safety net, but not a hammock.
Mrs Thatcher wanted people to become masters of their own destiny once again, rather than subjects of the state, reliant on hand-outs. She believed the pervading culture of entitlement encouraged apathy and a poor work ethic. That is not selfishness.
Contrary to what has become the received wisdom, Mrs Thatcher did not cut back on the welfare state. Instead she was keen to encourage private enterprise to reduce people’s reliance on the state.
Frankly I don’t understand why she isn’t held up as an example by people from across the political spectrum. Here was a lower middle class grammar school girl who, by dint of hard work, determination and vision, succeeded in a male dominated world of entrenched privilege. She believed in a genuine meritocracy (far more than any PM since), and the empowerment of the individual who could achieve their potential without a stifling state. Much of this she achieved, which is, in no small measure, why she won successive large majority election victories.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

UnHerd should have asked you to write the article.
Absolutely correct about the “no such thing as society” quote which is always cited out of context and never acknowledging “It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour.
We would do well to remember this – that it is our duty to first look after those closest to us. Universal human rights and global charity are secondary to that. We’ve lost sight of our priorities here.
“Everyone I knew in London” supported the miners. Exactly. She’s been living in a London media bubble for at least 40 years.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

A little like Pauline Kael’s stating with incredulity that “no one I know voted for Nixon” after he won in a landslide.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Or the one re Brexit “It should be the easiest deal in history” – the remainers conveniently leaving out the rest.
“The UK’s international trade secretary Liam Fox has said that the country’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU should be “one of the easiest in human history” to strike.Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Fox said: “We’re already beginning with zero tariffs and maximum regulatory equivalence. The only reason we wouldn’t come to a deal is if politics gets in the way of economics.”
and boy did remainer & EU politics get in the way of everything – and that was after saying they ‘respected the referendum result’ – I’d love to see what they’d have done had the NOT respected it 😉

Paddy Taylor
PT
Paddy Taylor
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

They did exactly the same with Gove’s “had enough of experts” quote. Which they used to “prove” that Brexit supporters were insular and stupid.
Rather than printing what Gove had actually said 

“I think the people in this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong” 

– which, given how serially and disastrously wrong the economic forecasters of the IMF, CBI, ECB, BofE etc have been over the years, is an entirely defensible statement. 

Klive Roland
KR
Klive Roland
2 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Top comment, thanks.

Lancastrian Oik
Lancastrian Oik
2 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Excellent analysis, and a great comment.

JOHN CAMPBELL
JC
JOHN CAMPBELL
2 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

As a Lancashire miner’s son, I fully agree with you.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
2 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Excellent post. Thatcher was hated then and still is today because she changed the system, causing a lot of pain to some. The pain is remembered, the benefits forgotten.

I find it ironic that many on the left today who are very pro-EU, in favour of free markets across Europe and consider those that aren’t to be stupid. All whilst simultaneously hating Thatcher for imposing free markets.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

PT it’s an interesting and technically correct point you make re Wilson closing down more mines than Thatcher, but given the fact that Wilson’s closures were agreed with unions, involved the loss of 235,000 rather than 458,000 jobs under the Tories, and were done in conjunction with a Plan for Coal (see all details here) which was a progam that would have invested in rather than abandoned miners, your one fact is entirely misleading when Labour was clearly doing more for the miners than it seems Thatcher ever did. The Tories’ relationship with miners was almost always odious. Nancy Astor referred to them as ‘earthworms,’ when Churchill was told about a miners’ strike occurring because they could not put food in their bellies he said ‘if the Welsh are striking over hunger, we must fill their bellies with lead.’
And so, if a child in one of my history classes ever asks me if Thatcher did more than Labour ever did for working people, all I can say in good conscience is no; she brought short-lived prosperity to some, but misery for many. (I’d invite them to challenge this of course but so far no one within or outside the classroom has convinced me otherwise).
As to Thatcher’s general economic record, give me one example of privatisation that has led to increased efficiency/lower prices for consumers? Rail? (See here) Energy? (see here) Housing? (See Peter Hitchens here) Water? (see here) Markets that are left unregulated are incentivised to meet demand not need and are as liable to creating inefficiencies and non-jobs as government-run organisations, as David Graeber has documented in his book Bullshit Jobs.

Mike Downing
MD
Mike Downing
2 months ago

Who remembers ‘In place of strife’?

This was Barbara Castle’s document outlining a third way to stop the self-destructive and never-ending battle between the bosses and the workers.

But it was never taken up by Labour and sidelined. Leaving the door open to the showdown between Thatcher and Scargill.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

At least BC gave us her memorial, that completely ridiculous bridge across the Humber.

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
2 months ago

It was certainly far more than an industrial dispute, it was an attempt on the one hand to bring down the government, and on the other to crush the unions. Both sides fought accordingly but the government had learned the lessons of 1973 while the miners thought a repeat would work. But the real difference was the unity of the state against the disunity of the unions who left the miners to fight alone. Perhaps a national ballot might have made a difference, we’ll never know, but my suspicion is that the rail, steel, shipping and transport unions had no stomach for the fight. Besides it is forgotten that it was the unions who in large part created the conditions for Thatcher and that many members voted for her.

Bill Bailey
BB
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

As with Hamas/Israel, had the one not attacked the other, then the ‘crushing’ may not have started. Don’t blame Thatcher for crushing Scargill. I’m always amused at the vitriol poured on Trump over the ‘mythical’ Russian connection, yet Scargill gets away with an actual connection. The Left is so screwed in its ideas and practices were it not in control of so many things we left to it because we had more entertaining things to do, it would be risible.

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

It was Thatcher’s destiny to try and crush Scargill; it was Scargill’s to try and crush Thatcher. Thatcher fought the better fight, that’s all folks.

P N
P N
2 months ago

The miners carry on as if theirs was the only job to become uneconomical, the first people forced to choose unemployment or to look for work elsewhere and thereby give up their old communities and lifestyle. How do they think their ancestors came to the mining towns in the first place? They came from the countryside, seeking work, because the agricultural revolution meant fewer jobs in the fields. The main differences between them and their forebears were that the unions gave them a misguided sense of their own importance to the national economy, and that the alternative to unemployment wasn’t starvation but benefits.
The mines weren’t closed because Thatcher hated coal (no, that would be today’s left) but because the mines were unprofitable; they were a drag not an asset on the UK’s economic growth. If an industry needs to be subsidised, the Government must take money from good businesses to give it to bad businesses. Saving jobs in one industry comes at the cost of losing jobs in another. It is a misallocation of scarce resources with alternative uses. Now that we have almost full employment, despite decades of mass immigration, Thatcher and the free economy has been more than vindicated.

Nick Faulks
NF
Nick Faulks
2 months ago

Scargill used the NUM to become, as he remains, a wealthy man.

Geoff Mould
Geoff Mould
2 months ago

The miners were part of a dying industry in the early 1980s. As has been said below, even if it had been commercially viable, the Net Zero obsession would have finished it off. There are lots of other jobs which no longer exist, the continued mythologising of the miners’ fate is a particular left wing obsession.

Michael Lipkin
ML
Michael Lipkin
2 months ago

Scargill, Red Robo et al were not trade unionists but revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the government. Therefore war is not a surprise.
Collective action needs well defined and realistic goals.

Doug Mccaully
DM
Doug Mccaully
2 months ago

Excellent, well balanced article.

John Burke
JB
John Burke
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Indeed Doug
The Miners’ Strike of 1984 in Britain endured for an extended period due to the integral role mining played in various communities. Entire families were deeply engaged in all aspects of mining work and its associated culture.
In those times, as men stood on picket lines, women took charge of organizing the community’s social survival—a concept that is implausible in today’s context. The sense of community that once thrived around coal mining areas has faded, replaced by new focal points like Amazon centers or theme parks.
Formerly, communities were prevalent in city centers and impoverished working-class areas, but this is no longer the case. Globally, as elderly residents pass away, their homes are swiftly acquired by speculators and millionaires. Consequently, the heart of many Western cities now resembles a deserted landscape during the night.
The Miners’ strike wasn’t some Marxist struggle, that’s one for the fevered imaginations of Daily Mail readers, it was about tradition and community.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

There is more iron in that comment than there is in Port Talbot under the Greens.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Are you speaking in code?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Industries fail as new technologies appear. My own industry – commercial art – is being replaced by AI. I’m learning to adapt, as we all must.

David Lindsay
DL
David Lindsay
2 months ago

The Britain that was born in the defeat of the miners subsidises with tax relief the export of 80 per cent of North Sea oil, has the Government decommission the oil rigs, allows the profits to be paid in tax havens, and is paying Indian and Chinese companies to make this the only G20 country that was incapable of producing steel. It is not explained how we were expected to fight so many wars with no steel. When the wind blows, then we cannot run trains north of Newcastle or Preston. If we really were facing war with Russia, then the Russians would not be quaking in their snow boots.

Successive Governments have simply stolen the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, which was once so mighty that it owned the Watergate Complex, the ultimate Trustees of which therefore included Arthur Scargill and Mick McGahey. In 1982, on first becoming President of the National Union of Mineworkers, and again in 1992, straight after the death of Robert Maxwell, Scargill tried to have the MPS buy the Mirror Group. At least on the first occasion, that was considered a serous proposition. Where would Alastair Campbell have been then? As we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Miners’ Strike, ponder the wealth and power that have been lost by communities that still have a thousand years’ worth of their valuable natural resource beneath their feet.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Tax relief a subsidy? Hmm that’s not how I’d view it, however, that apart I agree that the Green insanity that rules in Westminster is going to destroy the economy and the society in this country unless it is stopped soon. It will be stopped, as Doomberg rightly points out
“On the path from abundance to starvation is riot”
However, I’d rather the population turfed out ALL the Westminster Parties in the next GE rather than us having to starve then riot before we get rid of them.
I shall vote Reform, IF for no other reason than they are not committed to Net Zero (at least I hope they aren’t they weren’t when I last checked) for it is Net Zero that is deadly, literally. A post industrial UK cannot support the 80 million or so that live here.

David Whitaker
David Whitaker
2 months ago

Until the industrial revolution the rulers wanted warriors; from about 1750 to 1950 they wanted workers; since then it has been consumers.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago

When Britain created the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions they initiated the greatest evolutions in technology the World had ever seen.
Progressives consider themselves progressive.
Darwin said Evolution favours those organisms which respond and adapt most quickly. Britain failed to perceive that Germany( 1860s- Chemical Engineering then Electrical Engineering ), then USA( post 1870 and especially post 1900 with the development of Electrical then Petroleum Engieering) , then Japan ( post 1960s and Electronic Engineering – use of transistors ) were evolving at a faster rate making more more progress than the UK. As E Bevin said ” There is nothing more conservative than a union leader!”.
The problem with Britain post 1860 is that the ruling class whether Labour or Tory, has failed to realise that other parts of the world are evolving technologically; they are progressing at a faster rate than the UK.
People consider themselves progressive until progress makes them of little use or to use the sayings of a construction site ” They are a waste of space “.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Germany and the US are now interesting pointers to the direction of travel of the Net Zero UK. Germany is de-industrialising and de-democratising at an alarming rate (try the German Eugypius on substack) and the US similarly, though the cynicism of Biden/Democrats has given the US an escape route. The problem is whether that escape route saves the US or leads to a split where the fossil fuel states survive and the Green ones wither.
Doomberg is excellent (though you have to find them on ‘podcasts’ as their substack has the detail behind a paywall) on the vast resources the US has available in terms of ‘Oil’ and ‘Oil’ equivalents that could revive its fortunes, BUT whether the Democrats would ever use those assets is open to question. As for the EU – who knows? It isn’t looking good, though the EU’s ability to change path to keep themselves in their sinecures may be starting to work. However, the Irish, Dutch and Germans may all be wishing that they’d joined Brexit Britain on leaving. Bacon and Egg or Bugs and who knows what??!

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

The USA is similar to Britain is that the school and university produces large numbers of low grade arts people who are unemployable in advanced engineering. Switzerland, S Korea and Japan invest in high quality trade training, applied science, engineering, pure science and then arts. Today, much factory work is precision and requires people with HND level training.
The USA and UK outsourced to China low grade engineering because it could be undertaken. The Chinese lack high precision skills needed for top end white goods, cars , watches. Germany has outsourced car production to Slovakia which historically has had mining and metal work industries since the mid 16th century, which is why Hitler invaded to take control of armaments industries .
Certain countries have a tradition of high quality craftsmanship, which requires a fastidious attention to detail. knowledge of materials and eye for quality; what works well, looks good. The Japanese traditions of calligraphy, sword making, tea ceremony, martial arts,cooking etc, created a people with a fastidious attention to detail and for miniaturisation which was why Japan managed to make transistors work and then create an electronics industry. One can take a horse to water but one cannot make it drink. Those with the mentality of a craftsman can be trained to become one, those without it cannot, irrespective of time and money spent.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

The Shale Oil and Gas deposits in the world are vast. Some has deposits include ethane as well as methane so can be used to makes chemicals such as plastics.
Britain has massive shale and oil reserves and can also undertake Undergound Coal Gasification .

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
2 months ago

As someone not born here and unaware of the finer details, one thing I realised, more that I read about it, that it wasn’t really about Thatcher. It was about Scargill and his ego, nastiness and ideological desire to force his wacko socialist philosophies on the elected government.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

I was brought up in a northern coal-mining area. We were told that industry needed to close but not to worry – entrepreneurs would appear bringing new well-paid jobs. The cynics said that the new service jobs would just mean we would all end up selling hamburgers to one another.

Forty years on the north of England looks like a wasteland. We are still waiting for the entrepreneurs. One of the biggest lies is that Thatcher created an entrepreneurial culture which is the envy of the world. But take a look at the poorly-performing UK stockmarket and all you see is the same old banks, oil companies and pharmaceuticals that have been there for decades. That’s why it goes sideways and never up.

What we got was simply a financialisation of the economy. London got rich. A rentier economy replaced an industrial one, not an entrepreneurial economy. Globalisation followed. But that economic model is now broken like the previous one. The working-class had their jobs taken off them but they kept their votes and that’s why we had Brexit.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Excellent summary, thanks.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

People did not see the point of education and craft skills training( 5 to 7 years training) which are not needed for unskilled work. However, if one wants to build jet engines, one needs a highly skilled workforce and for that one needs people with the mentality who are prepared to go through years of fastidious training and rigorous testing.
The British Aircarft industry was largely in the south, why?

Dougie Undersub
DU
Dougie Undersub
2 months ago

Typical of Moore that she thinks it’s possible to discuss the 1984 strike without mentioning the 1972 and 74 strikes.
The Thatcher years were no different from those that preceeded or followed in terms of the decline of the industry.
The death of UK coal in five charts – Our World in Data

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

I wonder what the author’s view of coal is today.

james elliott
JE
james elliott
2 months ago

Uhm sorry….

It is the Far Left that is destroying the life prospects of the British working class.

Citizen Diversity
CD
Citizen Diversity
2 months ago

Having the wife at home cooking the Sunday lunch was probably not the only example of social conservatism that these communities featured. They once were home to the colliery brass band and Methodism.
If Thatcher destroyed conservative communities, she wasn’t very conservative. Blair acknowledged her as ‘an agent of change’. She was also described as a Whig radical.

andy young
AY
andy young
2 months ago

I’ve said it before, but one of the main functions of government is to smooth economic shocks that hit large sections of the population hard. While Thatcher was right about the impending non-viability of coal production using large numbers of men to do so, to wash her hands of any responsibility for the fate of those men was criminal.
I’m the last person to argue for state intervention, but this could have been seen coming for years & some sort of strategy developed; men likely to have been affected should have been warned & included in debates about what could be done to replace their jobs. The overwhelming majority of people are not stupid & are generally amenable to rational, unpatronising arguments about future problems. There would have been a lot of grumbling & discontent but in the end some useful conclusions would have been reached. Government incentives to encourage new industry, encouraging small business start-ups, general education, all sorts of ways that could have been explored to at least give the communities a feeling of hope, a feeling that their fate mattered & they were worthy of respect; all these things should have been done but weren’t
I believe strongly that the Free Market provides the best solution to nearly all problems – but not all, & this was a prime example of what not to do on those occasions when its outcomes are too inhumane, too brutal, & need to be alleviated. It’s difficult to do, & no government can provide a perfect solution, but Thatcher’s didn’t even try & furthermore didn’t appear to give a monkey’s.

Lancastrian Oik
LO
Lancastrian Oik
2 months ago

…and of course the Wilson government closed more mines (264) than the Thatcher government.

Peter Lee
PL
Peter Lee
2 months ago

From what I remember it was generally thought that the unions (and the miners in particular) were becoming a far too powerful element, to the detriment of UK as a whole.

Anthony Taylor
AT
Anthony Taylor
2 months ago

I clearly remember Arthur Scargill saying his ultimate objective was the downfall of the hated Thatcher government. I thought at the time that an industrial dispute over coal mining, or even the direction the country was taking, should never be allowed to cause a change of government, outside of an election. That way goes anarchy.

Gordon Buckman
GB
Gordon Buckman
2 months ago

What a load of rubbish. The Notts miners weren’t scabs , they just wanted democratic representation. They also knew their historic industry was coming to an end, and they were happy their sons would find a better living than working underground.

Steve Jolly
SJ
Steve Jolly
2 months ago

As the author said, those mines were always going to close. The problem is that highly paid, unionized manual labor jobs were replaced with low paying service jobs. The same pattern was then repeated with factories and other areas. It’s replacing apples with oranges. It was bound to have side effects that went beyond economics, and here we are.
All else equal, competitive forces reduce economic diversity by limiting economic activity in any particular city, region, or nation to what can be produced at a ‘competitive’ cost against everywhere else on the planet. Up until the 20th century, this was limited by the relatively high cost of transportation, and even more by the fact that nations competed for mostly the same resources. If there was only one source, there was going to be a fight over it. It behooved each nation to secure its own sources of critical resources and guard them. Economic efficiency was balanced against high transportation costs and nationalist competition. The 20th century saw transportation costs fall dramatically and the world effectively got smaller. Furthermore, the post-WWII consensus broke the old balance of power and left only one dominant naval power. Trade barriers fell and there were fewer and fewer checks on pure economic efficiency. It didn’t help that the west was driven by an ideology that placed the pursuit of economic efficiency above other factors.
The last quarter of the twentieth century and the first quarter of the twenty first have seen economic forces ruthlessly narrow the field of available occupations in any given area. Instead of a division of labor at the human level within cultures and societies, free and unfettered global trade began to produce a division of labor between regions and between nations based at least partially on wholly artificial factors like labor laws, environmental regulations, government policies, and levels of taxation. It’s monoculture economics, and like monoculture agriculture, it has consequences. People are diverse in many ways, not just irrelevant characteristics like skin, eye, or hair color. Some are well suited to be secretaries but not coal miners or coal miners but not secretaries. If an environment is created where only one class of jobs exist, well, it’s obvious what’s going to happen. Somebody is going to be either left idle or forced to toil in a job they are unsuited for. In either case, they’re not likely to be pleased about the situation, and people who pay taxes to support the social safety net will come to resent those they have to support.
This is where the big “You are here” sign can be planted. Far too many of the low skill, high risk, high paying jobs have been sent to places with lower wages, lower environmental standards, and fewer safety regulations. The reason coal, or anything else, became cheaper to import is because the costs of shipping are low and some foreign population is being paid in wages that have been unacceptable for at least half a century in western civilization and/or letting their environments get destroyed the same way western nations’ environments got destroyed before we knew any better.
The thing is, now we do know better and we do have higher standards, or so we thought. Turns out the moneyed class and the politicians let this happen anyway for the sake of profit, for economic efficiency. Surely the gains from cheaper goods will far outweight the loss of wages. They certainly did on the spreadsheets of Wall Street bankers and traders and in the coffers of the multibillionaires who employ said bankers and traders. The ruling class either didn’t anticipate the economic/social problems that would manifest down the line or they didn’t care. The people, as they are apt to do, simply ignored it or even endorsed it so long as it didn’t affect them directly, and it kept growing until it affected whole countries and entire regions. The number of people benefiting shrank while the number left out kept growing. Now too many people are angry at their leaders and each other. They started looking for people to blame, and as any good economist knows, if there’s a demand for something, someone will eventually provide a supply. Lo and behold there are now populist movements in about every nation, and they’re still growing. The reckoning is coming. It can’t be stopped. It can only be reduced in severity. I don’t know exactly what will happen or how the globalist period will end, with violent revolution or quiet retreat, but I do know it’s ending. So do a lot of other smart people who are sensibly hedging their bets. Once we’ve endured the upheavals to come and we’re on the other side, I think we’ll all conclude we would have been better off just paying a little extra for coal and for a lot of other things as well.

Bret Larson
BL
Bret Larson
2 months ago

CO2 a problem, maybe we can go back to the horse and buggy. Lots of good jobs to be had also.

Steve Jolly
SJ
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

How much do horse farts contribute to global warming? When you account for replacing cars with horses what is the net decrease in overall carbon dioxide emissions. Should we account for increased travel times involved. Is there a good analysis of how much emissions horses put out. Is it static or does it depend on how much the horse is ridden or how much it eats. Should we account for the habitat destruction that could come from the needs of increased ranching and/or increased farming acreage needed to feed said horses? Come on climate scientists somebody make a computer model of this. We need answers to this crisis.

Bret Larson
BL
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

All very important questions. I think the main issue is making any transportation too expensive for the plebs to afford. It’s the only way to solve global warming. That said, this is about make work jobs for people who can force government to send them a pay cheque. Seems rather quaint now. And probably preferable to the government cheques going out to all the non profits.

G M
G M
2 months ago

It was about the too powerful unions and trying to get the country back on track.

Robert Lloyd
Robert Lloyd
2 months ago

I once interviewed between 350 and 400 ex miners in the early part of this century. There was not one in ten who regretted being made redundant, only a very few political radicals. Many had been severely damaged by mining, especially those who spent most of their time underground. Most particularly, many had been destroyed by addiction, mostly alcohol, and psychiatric illness mainly depression. This was while they were mining and not caused by redundancies.

Those able to work after redundancy soon found jobs, I can’t recall any ‘jobseekers’. Of course many had been given skilled trades by the mining industry. Industrial electricians were very evident and very employable. Not a few were running their own businesses. Many of those without specific trades often found work in public services; police, prison officers, postal workers and so on.

Two anecdotes are illustrative. On one occasion as I started to take an occupational history the miner burst into tears and began raging. Forcefully and angrily he recounted how he had been sent down the pit at 14 and he had felt utterly trapped in an unhappy life. “They stole my life” was his oft repeated refrain.

The second story concerns someone who became a postman. He was given a rural round with a little red van. Shortly after starting with Royal Mail he was driving early on a bright summer morning on his rounds when he had stop in wonderment. He was out on an open country road on a beautiful morning. He was warm, safe and clean. His life had been transformed.

These people were the actual miners. They weren’t polytechnic lecturers, union firebrands or middle class socialists who waged, and continue to wage, proxy wars against Mrs Thatcher.

Roger Sponge
RS
Roger Sponge
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Lloyd

Am sure you’re spot on. At my school in Slough in the 60s, many had Welsh surnames. The first Welsh came to the town when they walked up the A4 looking for work during the Great Depression.

The universal advice given to my contemporaries was “Don’t go down the mines. We had no choice. Get yourselves an education.”

The Welsh were proud of their heritage. But they hated the mines.

Charlie Two
CT
Charlie Two
2 months ago

“In July 1984, Margaret Thatcher gave a speech to the 1922 Committee about the miners who had been on strike since March. “We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands,” she said. “We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.” Working men fighting to save their jobs were now a metastasising cell that must be obliterated.”

what utterly moronic tripe. scargill explicitly stated he would bring down the elected government using violence and illegal strikes that the miners themselves had voted against.and great she used a picture of a bloke who never worked down a mine, who put the grime on as makeup, to represent a ‘working man’. get lost. idiot.

Alan Thorpe
AT
Alan Thorpe
2 months ago

How many would be prepared to work in the coal mines today? My father was a miner and he made sure I did not follow him into the mines.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
2 months ago

The coal miners were regarded as working class heroes who walked on water by the trade union movement. Scargill had got an over-inflated notion of his own importance as a result of this, and so he arrogantly refused to hold a ballot. He also started the strike at a time when there were ample coal reserves, so the strike didn’t have a major impact on the lives of the rest of the population. There was no need for power cuts. If a ballot had been held, events might have taken a very different turn. It paved the way for the challenge to the print workers – another powerful working class group – which took place a bit later on in the 80s and who were also defeated.

John Dewhirst
JD
John Dewhirst
2 months ago

Yawn. Suzanne Moore’s wistful romanticism about class war and trying to be edgy.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

Suzanne Moore is a woman of the (old fashioned Left) so I appreciate her sentiments. The state, for once, fought hard, strategically and cleverly to win. But how in a democracy could you possibly suppose that illegal secondary picketing and intimidation should be allowed to prevail? And Scargill’s failure to hold a national ballot wasn’t a minor detail – it showed clearly that while most miners would go along with their union once it had set out it’s position, the strike didn’t actually have majority support expressed freely.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
2 months ago

“Through interviews with striking miners and scabs […].”

The term “scab” is offensive. And how do you suppose the loss-making collieries would have weathered the onslaught of the degenerate, bourgeois, Green ideology?
Finally, Scargill was a self-confessed admirer of Stalin.

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
2 months ago

The miners story shows it’s easy to forcibly close down an industry but very difficult to replace it with something that brings benefit to the displaced.

Alan Hawkes
AH
Alan Hawkes
2 months ago

I wonder what scars we would have if Scargill had won?

jane baker
jane baker
2 months ago

“pudding burners” that bit hit me hard as it proved what I’ve KNOWN all my life,that men,and not just working class men are exactly the same as they always were. Anyone who has employment nowadays is not old style working class. Even jobs that have a high level of manual in them require a little or a lot of digital competence,trust me,I know,and a smartphone and a car are ESSENTIAL for employment. Not fancy extras. Even a cleaner uses an app! No app,no job. I liked how the author of this piece,on hearing that judgmental phrase so obviously had a moment of thinking “we fought for these guys!” But actually I bet those lunch avoiding ladies could defend themselves perfectly well,had the oven on a timer,had it all sorted,and with their multiple jobs controlled the purse strings.