Hard Times: An end to the strife and devastated communities

Local Opinions

Our community reporter Spring Heeled Jack has written a series of short articles which we will share over the next few weeks.

Here is the latest installment of Hard Times.

An end to the strife

Arthur Scargill finally held a press meeting with journalists to notify them of the end of the strike and that the National Union of Mineworkers would return to work.

He tried to put a brave slant on matters where miners’ out on strike for over a year were perceived to be modern day heroes, and that they had proved their point about the pit closures proposed by the Thatcher government.

Margaret Thatcher’s unrelenting stance

The Prime Minister finally won the argument about pit closures throughout Great Britain.

This was mostly due to lessons learnt from the first major miners’ strike.

At that time, the Ted Heath Conservative government was unprepared for the strike, running short of coal for fuel and electricity.

However, the Thatcher government used scab labour to keep the power stations open and transferred coal from existing stations remaining open during the strike.

These measures paved the way for the proposed pit closures organised by the minister Michael Heseltine, to be done in a phased process.

In addition, Thatcher notified other politicians and the media that Great Britain would use nuclear fuel rather than coal, which was more dangerous and expensive to mine.

Devastated communities

Countless mining communities quickly became ghost towns following the pit closures organised by the Conservative government.

Unemployment remained high due to the loss of the pits, which was often the major industry for many people in Scotland, Wales and the North of England.

Many industries closed in the 1980s such as the mines, British Steel and several shipyards providing people with thousands of jobs.

Heavy and light engineering companies were decimated because of the Conservative government policies, where they would rather import foreign goods than produce those made in Great Britain.

Margaret Thatcher continued with her hard line economic policies, which helped her to win further general elections in 1983 (landslide with massive majority), and in 1987.

However, the writing was eventually on the wall for Thatcher who had a very inflexible personality and she often ignored the valuable advice of her cabinet ministers.

Thatcher continued with policies which upset several senior politicians who made it clear that they could no longer support her either in cabinet meetings or in the House of Commons.

Margaret Thatcher also started losing the support of the House of Lords (revising chamber), where the Lords disagreed with her political direction.

Eventually, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson and Geoffrey Howe (another senior minister) both resigned.

Article submitted by Spring Heeled Jack.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the Digital Sentinel.

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