Strike still divides after 30 years

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From: Raymond Shaw, Hullen Edge Road, Elland, West Yorkshire.

i READ with interest certain items regarding the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike. There are two sides to every problem. I was very much involved during this period operating a fleet of heavy goods vehicles, which the power of the unions made a costly state of affairs – very unfair.

Sadly, the deep-mined coal industry was in decline, not helped by the union’s selection of their captain. Maybe if Joe Gormley had been in control, the state of divide and rule that ended the strike would not have existed.

It has been my personal privilege to have existed long enough to vividly remember the previous huge withdrawal from work – the 1926 General Strike. I was at school in Horbury, which was adjacent to at least four collieries: Hartley Bank, Old Roundwood, Manor Haigh and Grange Moor.

During this strike, the local Working Men’s Club gave an afternoon tea for all the strikers’ children. I remember being most disappointed as my mother barred me from attending.

From: David McKenna, Hall Gardens, Rawcliffe, Goole.

During the miners’ strike, I was a headteacher working in a mining area north of Doncaster but living outside the area in what is now the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The strike caused great pain for many of our parents and children and straight away the local authority asked if schools could be kept open at lunchtimes during holidays so that lunches could be provided for the children. Unbelievably some schools refused.

I remember bringing apples from my orchard and sending them to the Welfare Hall and I also remember, at the end of the strike when the miners marched past the school on their return to work, looking from my office window with tears in my eyes.

Many of our children’s mothers joined the local Women’s Support Group and, along with Jane Thornton, published an account of the strike and what the support group did, in a booklet entitled All the Fun of the Fight. Fight it certainly was, but fun it wasn’t.

The aftermath of that disastrous episode was to have long-lasting effects on the community and the comradeship and friendliness was never the same again.

It was a period in our political history of which I am still deeply ashamed.

From: DS Boyes, Upper Rodley Lane, Leeds.

YET more information has come to light showing the utter futility of the 1984 miners’ strike.

While NUM leader Arthur Scargill did secure money from the then Communist Soviet Union, to help fund this dispute, the UK Government was also getting help from the Eastern Bloc in the form of massive supplies of coal to burn in power stations here and keep the lights on and industry running!

That is why even when the Thatcher administration knew about the cash flowing in they did nothing to stop it.

From: Jack Brown, Lamb Lane, Monk Bretton, Barnsley.

AT the beginning of the 1984-5 NUM strike, despite the fact that a government sequester was seizing NUM assets, a striker was assumed to be receiving £15 per week in strike pay. In April 1984 that was raised to £16. The increase in benefits the same day meant that a wife with two children received a weekly sum of £11.95, an increase of 20p. Thanks to national and international cash flows, a miner could get £5 per day for picketing.

MI5 and MI6 had done their duty and infiltrated the leadership of the Labour Party, the Communist Party, Socialist Workers’ Party and their Stalinist and Trotskyists breakaway groups since the Russian Revolution. They used their influence to ensure a policy of cash diversion from the picket lines to the soup kitchens. It took a while to sell the policy to local activists.

After the strike was lost, and normal hostilities between the armchair revolutionaries were resumed, the male teacher leader of the Barnsley Communists moaned to me: “We worked so well together during the strike.”

Together, they did more damage to working class families and communities than the strike itself. The divorce and suicide statistics speak for themselves. The effects of politicised feminism are wider and deeper.

HS2 no use to small towns

From: Professor Paul Salveson, Hannah Mitchell Foundation, Radcliffe Road, Golcar, Huddersfield.

I’M sure that high-speed rail can regenerate major regional cities (The Yorkshire Post, March 7) but what about the towns and cities which are not directly served by the proposed HS2 scheme?

As things stand, Leeds and Manchester will get a very fast direct link to London, but neighbouring cities and towns such as Bradford, Wakefield and to the west, Stockport, will lose out with the likelihood of fewer and possibly slower services to the capital.

But it’s worse then that. The proposed location for a terminus in Leeds will involve a trek to the existing station with poorer connectivity to the West Yorkshire rail network. So large towns such as Huddersfield and Halifax will be disadvantaged.

The immediate area around the proposed HS2 terminal will certainly benefit but this should not be about a localised property-led boom. It’s good for Leeds, but it isn’t so good for the rest of the region. Bradford and Wakefield are right to question the scheme as it is currently proposed.

We need a fresh look at HS2 which ensures much better connectivity with the existing rail network and a route which connects the great cities and towns of the North, instead of two virtually ‘standalone’ routes which only point to London.