Senior Doncaster councillor hits back at Prime Minister Boris Johnson for 'attempt to paint Margaret Thatcher as an environmentalist' over pit closures

A senior Doncaster councillor has called Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments on coal pit closures as ‘crass and insensitive’.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 4:16 pm
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 4:24 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sparked controversy as he linked Margaret Thatcher's pit closures with environmentalism

The PM, when asked about climate change at a Scottish wind farm, said the UK had a ‘big early start’ in reducing emissions when coal pits, including many in Doncaster, were shut down by the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

The comments sparked an angry backlash from some including Doncaster Labour councillor Nigel Ball who said the PM has ‘absolutely no idea the suffering closures meant’ to communities in the borough.

He added that the closures in the 1980s had nothing to do with environmentalism but to carry out the ‘destruction’ of the National Union of Mineworkers and working class communities.

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Coun Nigel Ball

Mr Johnson 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.”

In 1984, there were 170 working collieries in Britain which employed more than 190,000 people . By 2015, all had been shut down.

Thousands of miners went on strike in 1984 after Mrs Thatcher announced plans to close 20 pits across the country.

“The latest crass and insensitive comments from the Prime Minister continue to illustrate he has absolutely no idea about the pain and suffering that our people and our communities went through 35 years ago during the coal dispute.

“For ex-miners and their families who struggled for over a year to get by whilst on strike the off the cuff rantings from Johnson highlight that he has no clue what people went through during those long 12 months.

“He attempts to paint Thatcher as some kind of early architect of environmentalism when in reality all she and her government wanted was the destruction of the NUM, our communities and the people that lived within them.”

Asked if the PM would be apologising, his spokesman said: “The PM recognises the huge impact and pain closing coal mines had in communities across the UK.

“This government has an ambitious plan to tackle the critical issue of climate change, which includes reducing reliance on coal and other non-renewable energy sources.”

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