So now we know that Margaret Thatcher lied about the scale of her attack on the British mining industry.
She told the country that only 20 pits were to be closed, when in secret she and National Coal Board chief Ian Macgregor had planned to close no less than 75.
The revelation vindicates then-National Union of Mineworkers’ leader Arthur Scargill, who claimed at the time that there was a “secret hit-list” of more than 70 pits marked for closure.
Documents released under what used to be called the Thirty Year Rule show that under the plan, two-thirds of Welsh miners would become redundant, a third of those in Scotland, almost half of those in north east England, half in South Yorkshire and almost half in the South Midlands. The entire Kent coalfield would close.
The workforce was to be cut by about a third, from 202,000 to 138,000.
Thatcher went on to use the lie as an excuse to break the power of the trade unions, setting the scene for the long decline in employees’ rights that has brought us to the current sorry situation in which part-time work, zero-hours contracts and fake ‘self-employed’ status are robbing us of what few entitlements we have left.
She used the police as a political weapon to attack picket lines, sowing seeds of distrust that persist to this day. How many people who saw the scenes of carnage during the miners’ strike can honestly say they trust the police to uphold the law without fear or favour? Is it not more accurate to say they fear the police as agents of a ruling elite?
She destroyed Britain’s ability to provide fuel for our own power stations, leading us into dependence on foreign powers for our energy needs. It is this helplessness – caused by the policies of that Conservative Prime Minister – that has put so many British families into fuel poverty under the current Conservative Prime Minister, forcing them to choose between heating and eating.
In short, Margaret Thatcher owes compensation to a huge number of British people.
Some might consider it a lucky escape for her that she died last year and will avoid our wrath, but then again, considering her state of mind at the end it is unlikely that she would have recognised what it was.
Perhaps it will be possible for some of her victims to claim compensation from her estate; that will be a matter for them.
But other leading Conservatives and civil servants were in on the plot – and they should not be allowed to walk away unpunished. These include:
- Nigel Lawson (Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time).
- Norman Tebbit (Employment Secretary).
- Sir Robert Armstrong (now Baron Armstrong of Ilminster, Secretary of the Cabinet in 1983). Armstrong has denied that there was a cover-up – an astonishing claim when documentation shows there was an agreement not to keep records of the secret meetings in which the plans were hatched and developed.
- Peter Gregson (although he may also be dead; attempts to determine his status have turned up nothing).
- Michael Scholar.
These are just the names on the document market ‘Secret’ meeting at No 10 on the BBC News report of the revelation.
They all knew about the lie and could all have told the truth but they did not.
They betrayed Britain.
Will they escape justice?
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