EX-MINER and Labour MP for Blaydon David Anderson has made a passionate plea for unity in the Parliamentary Labour Party, comparing its division with that of striking miners in the 1980s.
Mr Anderson was speaking on Saturday at an event commemorating the deaths on the picket line of two Yorkshire miners in the strike against pit closures of 1984-85.
He likened Labour divisions with those in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) during the strike, with miners in Nottinghamshire scabbing and forming a breakaway union, the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM).
“The actions of the UDM sapped the strike, sapped the strength of the men,” Mr Anderson told the packed council chamber of NUM headquarters in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
Relating that to the Parliamentary Labour Party today, he said: “My colleagues in the PLP need to get together. We have got to get together.
“They must stand behind the leader and do the right thing. Last year’s coup against the leader did not help us.
“If we do not get together, the Tories will continue attacking the welfare state, attacking the National Health Service. Why attack the NHS? For a simple reason.
“The NHS proves that socialism works. When we work together, we work better.”
On the platform with him was Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis.
“Dan told me a horrible statistic,” he said. “One in four children in Barnsley are living in poverty.”
But the Tories had blocked Mr Jarvis’s private member’s Bill in Parliament aimed at relieving child poverty.
“We have to look after our class the way the Tories look after theirs,” said Mr Anderson.
• THE annual Miners’ Memorial Lecture is held to honour Davy Jones, a 24-year-old Yorkshire miner killed on the picket line at Ollerton colliery in Nottinghamshire after being hit by a thrown brick and striker Joe Green, 55, who was mown down by a lorry while picketing Ferrybridge power station in Yorkshire. No-one was ever prosecuted in relation to either death.
The lecture was preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony at the miners’ monument outside the NUM headquarters commemorating miners killed at work.
Among those laying wreaths were Anne Scargill and Betty Cook (pictured), founders of the Women Against Pit Closures movement.