The worst part of Boris Johnson’s comments on pit closures is not their crass insensitivity – it is the clearly-stated intention behind them.
Even the Tory-supporting BBC couldn’t hold back from commenting that “He is reported to have laughed and told reporters: ‘I thought that would get you going.'”
He had said:
“Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”
He wanted to cause offence with his claim that Margaret Thatcher helped the environment by closing coal mines in the mid-1980s.
He knows perfectly well that she was no environmentalist; she wanted the mines closed in order to break the power of the unions. It was part of her plan to put millions of people out of work, because this would give employers the whip hand in wage negotiations (they would tell any applicant who wanted more that there were plenty of other people seeking a job).
Predictably, the Tory-supporting BBC has supported Johnson’s claim with a sidebar by “environment analyst” Roger Harrabin (who?) claiming that Thatcher had a point because she told the UN that greenhouse gases were “changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways” – in 1989.
That was five years later – an eternity in which she and her advisers had enjoyed plenty of time to dream up an excuse for the pit closures that plunged so many lives into poverty, uncertainty and despair.
Harrabin’s comment, “Her pit closures were not part of a green policy, but they did fortuitously show the UK could prosper without coal,” was as insensitive as Johnson’s. Tell that to the families of the mine workers who lost their livelihoods, and who are still struggling, even today!
Who exactly does Harrabin mean by “the UK”? Bosses of our big-business energy firms? But, they’re all foreign executives, most of whom work for the governments of EU countries. Privatisation led to shares in the formerly-nationalised energy industry being bought by those EU-based concerns.
Johnson, of course, is still claiming that the UK has Brexited itself away from giving money to the EU but this is clearly untrue.
Representatives of opposition political parties have demanded a retraction from Johnson – whose government has supported the opening of the UK’s first new coal mine in decades, in Cumbria.
So he was lying about switching to green power.
And let’s face it – he doesn’t care about offending people. He thinks it will boost his reputation among… a certain section of the British public.
Remember the other shocking things he has said:
Remember his Brexit campaign, when he lied that the NHS would be given £350 million a week? That investment might have done us all some good, prior to the coronavirus crisis but it was never going to happen because the Tories have been running the NHS down to make it ripe for privatisation – which would have made the UK even less capable of handling Covid-19.
Remember when he tried to make a joke of the massive loss of lives in the Libyan city of Sirte during that nation’s civil war? Or when he had to be stopped from inappropriately quoting a colonial poem by Kipling in Myanmar?
Remember when Eddie Mair, on BBC Radio 4, read out a litany of Johnson’s racist behaviour, to the dismay of Amber Rudd?
When Johnson refused to condemn widespread police violence against civilians in Catalonia?
When he spoke nonsense about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Parliament, and the Iranian government used it to threaten her with an extra five years in prison, beyond the five she was already serving on a trumped-up charge?
When he was reprimanded by then-Commons Speaker John Bercow for referring to Emily Thornberry in “frankly sexist” terms?
When he praised Viktor Orban on his election win in Hungary after an anti-Semitic campaign?
His sexist and Islamophobic comments about women who wear the burqa?
The racist poem he published, saying that Scottish people were a “verminous” race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?
His racist assessment of the French as “turds“?
His reference to gay men as “tank top-wearing bumboys“?
His question about Irish PM Leo Varadkar: “Why isn’t he called Murphy like the rest of them?”
His clueless claim that hard work can cure mental illness?
His relaxed attitude to his MPs abusing women?
His lie that the NHS would get 20 hospital upgrades, starting in his first week as prime minister – that he then edited out of a video?
His obscene description of then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn?
Let’s also add to it his apparent reluctance to go into Covid-19 lockdown last autumn, saying, “Let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”
Put all that together and you know Johnson won’t apologise for this latest outrage?
Why would he? He’s a serial offender.
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She started preparing the year before, just after settling the previous pay claim. They stockpiled coal and made such other arrangements as possible eg bringing into use a few heavy oil power stations (including the one that used to be near me) and then brought McGregor aboard as he was a known ‘hit man’ She then made sure, with Portillo’s help, that news that there were to be massive numbers of pit closures was leaked to the NUM. When the NUM wouldn’t take it lying down and voted to strike she changed the law on how strikes were called, and then BACKDATED the law to make the NUM strike illegal. Then used the court to sequestrate assets from the NUM for continuing an ‘illegal strike’ We know how it ended, they held out as long as they could before having to end it.
But of course that wasn’t the end, was it? We still used coal domestically – I still had a coal fire and heating system until the mid 90s and we were using a lot of coal for generating electricity too. So, rather than use our own and keep the money we paid for it in our own economy Thatcher bought coal from communist Poland to stuff their coffers instead! And, whilst we could have wound the industry down while we moved across to other fuels the pits were allowed to flood rather than keep them maintained and use our own coal reserves.
The entire action was vengeful. Like shooting your foot off because your big toe is itchy. It cost money in real terms and cost thousands of jobs and damaged communities the length and breadth of the country. The Tories should be ashamed of themselves for deliberately ruining an industry when they pride themselves on being the ‘businessman’s friend’