Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Scargill's claims on miners' strike deals 'are nonsense'

The authors of a new book on the miners strike today hit back at claims by former NUM leader Arthur Scargill that a negotiated settlement to the bitter dispute was agreed with the Tory Government, saying he was talking "nonsense."

The ex-union leader claimed that the NUM negotiated five separate deals, four of them "sabotaged or withdrawn" following the intervention of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The year long strike broke out just over 25 years ago and became the most bitter, violent industrial dispute for decades as the union mounted a campaign against pit closures.

In his only comments to mark the 25th anniversary, Mr Scargill wrote in yesterday's Guardian that he did not refuse to hold a national ballot before the strike broke out, defended mass picketing and hit out at his critics.

The authors of the book, Marching To The Fault Line, David Hencke and Francis Beckett, said the claims were "directly contradicted" by evidence they gathered during their research.

They said: "We tried hard to persuade him to agree to be interviewed for the book, but, unlike every other leading figure who is still alive, he refused. We would have liked to be able to put our evidence before him.

"His claim that he agreed a deal with Thatcher is not borne out by a shred of evidence. In fact at this crucial point in October Thatcher was prepared to do anything not to negotiate a deal with Scargill - as shown by interviews with people and advice given to her released under Freedom of Information."

The authors accused Mr Scargill of blocking a negotiated settlement to the strike a month before the industrial action actually ended.

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