Doncaster ex-miner slams Boris Johnson’s joke about Thatcher’s pit closures

A Doncaster ex-miner has hit out against Boris Johnson’s comments making light of Margaret Thatcher's closure of coal mines.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 2:33 pm

The PM, when asked about climate change at a Scottish wind farm, said Margaret Thatcher gave “a big early start” to green energy by closing coalmines.

Many pits were shut down in Doncaster by the Thatcher government in the 1980s and the PMs comments have drawn wide criticism.

David Douglass former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch secretary at Hatfield Main, said:

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Dave Douglass

“You almost don’t have to ask miners what their reaction is to memories of Thatcher and what we were put through.”

Generations of miners had locked hors with successive Conservative governments, he said but Thatcher had been particularly vindictive.

“The action she took in terms of social security and welfare law where she changed the provisions so that miners’ children couldn’t get family income supplement and other supplementary benefits.

“The family of the Yorkshire Ripper was £17 a week better off than the family of a Yorkshire miner,” he said.

Mr Douglass added: “The fact that Johnson praised Thatcher’s actions in wiping out half of the coal fields was bad enough.

“It came on top of of course of his decision to ignore the all party parliamentary committee on the miner’s pensions which said that the Government had no legal right whatever to have taken any money out of the miner’s pension scheme at all.

“So all in all in terms of restoring the wall between the miners and and Boris, he’s done a good job.

“People in the coalfields largely and the post- industrial areas had been very angry about Labour’s ambivalence about Brexit because most of us voted to leave.

“I would cut my arms off before I would vote Tory but that’s why people out of revenge really voted against Labour rather than vote for the Tories

“But people having it pushed back in their faces shows why that was such a bad idea.”

He said the heart was ripped out of the coal fields by Thatcher followed by John Major. There had been ten years of pit closures and nothing had ever really replaced the industry.

Sons, grandsons and great grandsons had never worked since in some hard hit communities.

He added: “On the answer to global warming etc – we had already developed at Hatfield a system of carbon capture which would have taken 100 per cent of emissions out of the process .

The EU called it the most developed carbon reduction scheme in the World.

“The Tories pulled the plug on it because they just didn’t want the miners whether we reduced emissions or not.”

However, he added: “Labour are ambivalent and the truth is they don’t want to open any new coal mines and are quite happy to have the mines closed.

“I’ve been campaigning for the new mine in Cumberland that we got permission to go ahead with and Labour and the Greens have tried to block development .

“And that’s in an area which is the 14th most deprived community in Europe and the pit would bring 500 new jobs and 2,000 associated jobs. I’m not totally over the moon with Starmer and Milliband.

It was terrible what Boris said but what they are saying isn’t so clever either.”