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Thatcher files show Scargill was right

Cabinet archives reveal true depth of Tories' treachery with secret hit list of 75,000 jobs

National archive records exposed the depth of Tory government lies during the 1984-5 Miners' Strike with secret cabinet papers revealing yesterday a plot to slash 75,000 jobs drawn up months before the dispute.

The newly released documents record the secret Downing St meetings that laid the foundations for a ferocious attack on Britain's trade union movement.

It started with the destruction of the National Union of Mineworkers and the coal-mining industry.

A hit list of 75 mines employing 75,000 miners had been drawn up by the Tories' lick-spittle boss at the National Coal Board Ian MacGregor.

But throughout the bitter year-long dispute Tory leader Margaret Thatcher and her henchmen denied its existence.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Arthur Scargill insisted it had existed, but was howled down as a scaremonger by the Tories and their media allies.

Initial plans were drawn up in the '70s by Sir Nicholas Ridley.

His report was a blueprint for mobilising police and if necessary the army against the miners.

NUM secretary Chris Kitchen told the Morning Star that the revelation of the hit list came as no surprise.

And he said wrecking the coal-mining industry following the strike paved the way for privatisation of a raft of publicly owned industries - and led to today's energy crisis, soaring fuel bills and economic decline.

Mr Kitchen was a 17-year-old miner at Wheldale colliery at Castleford in West Yorkshire when the strike began.

He said: "We all knew it was not an industrial dispute, but a political dispute orchestrated by Thatcher and following the blueprint of the Ridley Report to destroy the trade union movement and pave the way for privatisation."

He said Thatcher and the government determined when the strike should be provoked - just as summer was approaching and coal stocks were high.

Mr MacGregor selected Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire for closure - provoking the strike in March 1984.

"We did not decide the timing of the strike," said Mr Kitchen.

"But the only option was to fight. If you just roll over you have no hope of winning. If you fight at least you have a chance."

Before the strike there were around 180 deep coalmines in Britain and 180,000 miners.

Today there are three pits and fewer than 1,500 miners and Britain is dependent on imported energy for its survival.

Mr Kitchen added: "Nationalised industries helped each other. The mining industry provided coal for hospitals, for power stations, for British Steel.

"It worked for the benefit of the country, not shareholders. If we still had a coal industry we would have clean coal technology.

"There would be no energy crisis. Energy bills would have been a quarter of what they are now.

"But Thatcher wanted a dog-eat-dog society."


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