AS with many of Boris Johnson’s utterances a substantial leap of imagination is required to swallow the idea that Margaret Thatcher destroyed Britain’s coal-mining industry to reduce our carbon footprint. The Prime Minister made his claim during last week’s visit to Scotland.

In these two days he managed to expand his canon of fantasy with two other whoppers: that he didn’t actually refuse to meet Nicola Sturgeon (they are already engaged in dialogue, you understand) and that Scottish independence is nowhere near the top of his list of priorities. That’ll be why two anti-independence units have recently been established on his watch and the royal family have been nobbled to lend support to the Unionist cause.

The Prime Minister’s portrayal of Mrs Thatcher as a pioneer of clean energy can be added to the other fictions that have been permitted to fly about the 1984-85 Miners' Strike. Admittedly though, it’s the most esoteric.

This year-long struggle was enjoined by Mrs Thatcher as a revenge mission to inflict reprisals for the miners’ victories earlier in the decade.

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It mattered to her because the idea that workers uniting in solidarity across sectors to protect their communities and families simply could not be permitted to prevail in the Britain she was committed to delivering for her key stakeholders. This would come to be defined by corporate greed; profit before people and deregulation.

Mrs Thatcher’s acolytes, including Tony Blair, have since deified her term in office as having delivered an economic miracle. Some miracle. Within two decades of the defeat of the miners the forces it set in motion inevitably crashed and burned in an orgy of bogus credit and mis-selling by the banks. Before this happened their executives had all made off with the multi-million-pound bonuses provided by deregulation and the absence of government oversight.

No expense was spared in Mrs Thatcher’s ideological war against the miners. Around £7Bn was paid out in compensation to miners, much of it provided by North Sea oil receipts. This was one of the reasons why the UK establishment was eager to conceal the true extent of Scotland’s potential oil wealth.

Many more billions were paid out, ranging from unlimited overtime payments for the hired thugs of the Metropolitan Police as they attacked unarmed men trying to protect their livelihoods to the cost of benefits and health care for those working-class communities which still bear the scars of Mrs Thatcher’s destructive fury.


Seamus Milne’s 1994 book The Enemy Within, updated in 2014, is the authoritative text on the struggle. In it he details the extent to which MI5 used agents provocateur and sleepers to destabilise the National Union of Mineworkers and to destroy the reputation of its leader Arthur Scargill. The accusations of corruption made against him were eventually proven to be entirely fictitious but not before the Daily Mirror, under the ownership of the corrupt tycoon Robert Maxwell, were given industry awards for disseminating the lies.

These reports have since been wholly discredited, yet they continue to define the British public’s recollection of the struggle. Unforgivably, Labour’s Blairite faction which has since hollowed out the party with its own soft neo-liberalism, enthusiastically participated in the lie.

Other fictions surrounding the Miners’ struggle have similarly come to settle in the public consciousness: that the coal industry was unprofitable and unsustainable and that it was dominated by a Soviet-influenced trade union seeking to overthrow democracy.

Yet, coal continued to supply up to a third of Britain’s energy needs over the years that followed with the rest of it imported at great expense from the coalfields of our European competitors. Hardly a sustainable business model by the class that claims expertise in such areas. Most of the mines that Mrs Thatcher eventually shut were operating profitably in 1985.

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Soviet Russia’s most successful British infiltrators, of course, were never to be found in working-class communities. These traitors were drawn almost exclusively from Oxbridge and followed the example set by their forbears who endorsed Hitler in return for securing their ancient privileges in a Britain run by the Third Reich.

A heavier cost of the Miners’ Strike was borne by what we touchingly call civic decency. The corruption of major sectors of British society was required to reinforce Margaret Thatcher’s lies. These included the BBC, whose footage and commentary from the picket lines was scandalously tilted against the striking miners, and the police who were given free rein by Mrs Thatcher to operate as her private militia and impervious to the law of the land.

The security services, as proven by Seamus Milne’s scholarship, were knee-deep in illegally sabotaging a free trade union. The judiciary were similarly suborned to hand down egregiously punitive sentences to striking miners, thus ensuring they were denied compensation. These men were subsequently black-listed so that they’d be unable to support themselves or their families thereafter.

This is what Boris Johnson was laughing about on Thursday: the deliberate and gleeful act of destroying an entire class who had dared to challenge capitalism and the corruption required to make it operate.

There are parallels to be drawn by the UK establishment’s treatment of the miners with the forces being assembled to thwart Scottish independence. Many of the old actors who performed their roles dutifully in 1984-85 are re-grouping. The others will follow when the call comes.

The Labour Party, under the stewardship of its twin millionaire leaders on either side of the Border, effectively acts as allies of Boris Johnson. The right-wing press remains on speed dial to come to the aid of the establishment. The BBC retains a trusted cadre of correspondents to send to the Scottish front if messages need to be reinforced. The Queen and her family, eager to protect their own Scottish property portfolio, have been commandeered and the major financial institutions are also now beginning to mobilise.

The Prime Minister is unconvincing when he tried to tell us that Scottish independence is not a priority. And he knows that the template for deploying all the forces of the UK establishment against a popular movement has been set by Margaret Thatcher. Time to buckle up.

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