DURING a recent tour of Wales, I read an interesting archive report from 1893.
Miners were on strike in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Midlands. They sought to disrupt the supply of coal, and extend their dispute to the South Wales coalfields. Organised gangs were deployed to go from pit to pit, and stop hauliers and miners from working. This culminated in “a pitched battle” between a militant mob and 2,000 Welsh miners, who refused to join the strike.
I had a sense of deja vu: I had read several The Yorkshire Post reviews of productions (books, films and plays) commemorating the 1984-5 miners’ strike, each of which was singular for its lack of context. What Yvette Huddleston euphemistically referred to as “interesting artistic interpretations” (The Yorkshire Post, November 14) represented a politically correct indulgence, peculiar to our times: a feminist perspective... a ‘gay’ perspective, of the strike. Extraordinary.
But amidst the embittered clamour of militant voices, morassed in the certitude and the expediency of their long lost cause, was one observation: “It was a political battle, not an economic one” (Laura Wilkinson, The Yorkshire Post, November 14).
Indeed it was.
It was not about remuneration. The miners were earning good wages supplemented by high productivity bonuses (a scheme which Arthur Scargill had vehemently opposed).
It was not even about “pit closures” – that inevitable consequence of economic reality – was ruthlessly and cynically exploited by the militants as a catalyst for conflict.
Inevitable? Yes, the deep coal mining industry was in decline because of changing patterns of demand, which would culminate in a fundamental shift, in both the domestic and industrial markets, towards the adoption of cleaner fuels. Everyone knows that. Far more pits were closed by Harold Wilson’s administrations than by those of Margaret Thatcher.
No, it was a “political battle”. The political intent of the militant Left was to engineer a national miners’ strike to provoke a general strike, foment industrial strife and bring down the Government. Arthur Scargill’s public declamations constituted a clear statement of intent.
But the NUM’s cynical attempt to circumvent trade union law, by holding area ballots rather than a national ballot to sanction a national strike, backfired when areas like Nottinghamshire voted not to strike.
A bitter internecine conflict ensued, in which miner was pitted against miner. This served only to exacerbate and precipitate the decline of the coal mining industry.
The literati’s “interpretations” obscure the truth, and give credence to the militant Left.
Such emotive productions tend to indoctrinate younger generations, who have no concept of those turbulent times.
Time to put values first
From: Michael Meadowcroft, Former Liberal MP, Waterloo Lane, Leeds.
THE venerable political commentator Chris Moncrieff makes the astounding statement “the object in politics is to win votes, and you do that by offering the voters what they are demanding” (‘Cameron is left humiliated at the hands of Ukip’, The Yorkshire Post, November 26).
He might well be describing the unfortunate current reality, but he is completely wrong in principle. The object of politics is to improve the circumstances of one’s citizens and of their community, and the purpose of a political party to understand its vision for society and to communicate that vision to the voters so that it can put its policies into the broader plan.
The electorate continually states that it wants parties that put country before party, yet when a party does precisely that, as the Liberal Democrats knowingly did when they went into coalition in 2010, then, ironically, the electorate turns against them. The country needs a politics of values and it is not yet getting it.
Lighting up on a sunny day
From: Norma Mcnichol, Lynwood Drive, Carlton, Barnsley.
I READ the letter from Roger Dobson (The Yorkshire Post, November 27). I, too, am a driver of 50 years experience and share his annoyance with careless drivers on our roads today.
However I would like to comment on his remark about headlights in bright sunshine. My new car has lights that are on while the engine is running and I asked if they could be turned off in the summer because I think it is stupid for a car to have lights on in fine weather conditions.
I was told there is no way this can be done because they are wired into the system and comply with the rest of Europe.
From: Stephen Nicholson, Leyburn Avenue, Lightclffe, Halifax.
I AM writing this letter in fear getting the grammar wrong (H Marjorie Gill, The Yorkshire Post, November 20).
Marjorie scolds us all for not knowing the difference between “You and me” and “Chris and I” when pointing out that a Mrs Pratt said “no words can describe how devastating it was for Chris and I” after they had lost their baby, instead of “Chris and me”.
I do hope that in the tragic event of anyone else losing their baby they have learnt this valuable grammatical rule when being asked how they feel at the death of their child.