Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Collieries, Communities and the Miners' Strike in Scotland, 1984-85$

Jim Phillips

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086328

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086328.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use (for details see www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy). Subscriber: null; date: 16 January 2019

Ending and aftermath

Ending and aftermath

Chapter:
(p.143) 5 Ending and aftermath
Source:
Collieries, Communities and the Miners' Strike in Scotland, 1984-85
Author(s):

Jim Phillips

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719086328.003.0006

Abstract and Keywords

This explores the ending and aftermath of the strike at a macro-level in Scotland, from October 1984 onwards. The roles of the Conservative government, NCB management and the police are considered. Community- and colliery-level factors remained paramount, with substantial resistance from below, even as this official resumption was underway. The immediate aftermath of the strike is then detailed, through examining the pit-level tensions and difficulties that followed, including relations between unions and management, and former strikers and former strike-breakers.

Keywords:   End of strike, Conservative government, Workplace conflict, Management, Union politics

The strike ended painfully in Scotland, and in stages. It collapsed unofficially in Ayrshire in the last week or so of February. A return at the other pits gradually followed an NUM delegate conference vote to end the strike, in London on Sunday 3 March, and two NUMSA and SCEBTA delegate conferences on 4 and 6 March, the second reversing the decision of the first to stay out. Deliberation was particularly difficult in West Fife and Clackmannan. The East Fife strikers were back at work on Wednesday 6 March, and the West Lothian and Midlothian strikers on Thursday 7 March, but the Longannet complex and Comrie strikers did not return until Monday 11 March. Miners at Polmaise stayed out for one more week.1

This chapter analyses this ending, and examines its immediate aftermath. The emphasis in this book on the primacy of community and colliery factors is restated: local contingencies, as Chapter 4 demonstrated, were important in extending the strike into 1985; and there were distinctive pit-level experiences after the strike, although there was a common tendency across the Scottish coalfields to greater managerial control. This signalled a further erosion of the moral economy of the coalfields, with its employment security and joint industrial regulation of the workplace. Such eventuality demonstrated the importance too of high politics, which have been de-emphasised slightly at other points in this book. The radical erosion of the moral economy of the coalfields was, after all, related to the government's broader economic and social objectives, such as reducing the role of public enterprise, marginalising trade unions, and redistributing workplace authority from employees to employers. The government's desire to downgrade joint regulation and diminish coalfield employment is illuminated by the manner of the strike's ending. Three factors are identified here: the fruitless pursuit of a negotiated settlement, which was sabotaged repeatedly by government intervention; the highly partial policing of pickets and strikers by Scottish constabularies; and the NCB's strike-breaking strategy in Scotland, which was wilfully provocative, involving a relatively high level of victimisation of strikers, when measured against other NCB territorial areas, and exaggerated threats that the strike was jeopardising the survival of collieries. The question of (p.144) victimisation was paramount in delaying the end: 206 men were sacked by the NCB in Scotland because of acts that they were alleged to have committed in pursuit of the strike. A large number of these men had been convicted by the courts, mainly for public order offences, but a significant number had not been. The sense of injustice arising from these dismissals, which continues to burn, more than 25 years later, was a factor in the tense and unforgiving pattern of coalfield workplace and industrial politics after the strike, with renewed antiunion managerial initiatives, and highly fractious exchanges between strikers and strike-breakers.

The difficulties of reaching a settlement

There is a counter-factual literature of the strike, referred to at different points in this book, broadly focusing on the leadership and strategy of the NUM, and especially the personality of Arthur Scargill. Much of this literature arises, essentially, from understandable human and political feelings of regret: if the strike had developed differently, then there might also have been an alternative outcome. The coal industry, in other words, with its provision of stable and relatively well-paid, unionised employment, could have survived in reasonable health, into the 1990s and perhaps even the 2000s or 2010s. The counter-factual literature mourns the absence of a pre-strike ballot, the picketing of steel works and the consequent divisions between miners and other groups of unionised workers. Above all, however, it bemoans the NUM leadership's conduct of negotiations with the NCB over a possible settlement to the strike. Scargill is characterised as an unyielding, unimaginative and unskilled negotiator, and compared unfavourably with the pragmatic and shrewd McGahey.2 This binary distinction – between Scargill and what actually happened on the one hand, and McGahey and what might have happened on the other hand – is echoed in the testimony of some of the strike participants in Scotland,3 as the discussion of NUMSA's strike strategy in Chapter 3 indicated. David Hamilton is certain that a settlement would have been reached by the summer of 1984, at the latest, if McGahey had been in charge of negotiations, and Willie Clarke laments what he sees as the limited intellectual and imaginative properties of Scargill and his Yorkshire supporters.4

Scargill and McGahey were clearly different from each other intellectually, politically and temperamentally. The basis of the counter-factual alternative ending to the strike is nevertheless elusive. What, to be precise, would a settlement satisfactory to the striking miners, including those whose pits were immediately threatened, have looked like?5 The NCB could not accept a reversal of its decisions on Polmaise, Cortonwood, Herrington, Bullcliffe Wood and Snowdon, the five pits marked for closure prior to the strike. Nor could it accept the unions' determined defence of all other pits, unless ‘exhausted’. The improbability of any alternative course of events is illuminated in the minutes of a meeting of the Scottish Area strike committee on 23 July. This followed the unsuccessful conclusion of the lengthiest round of talks with the NCB during (p.145) the dispute, on 18 July. McGahey reported that while the NCB had agreed to withdraw its proposals of 6 March, outlining the contraction of capacity in the longer term, the five pits immediately threatened would probably still be closed. Talks had broken down over the NCB's insistence on using ‘beneficially’ when defining the criteria for pit closures: a colliery could be shut when it no longer contained coal reserves that were ‘workable or which could be beneficially developed’. The word ‘beneficially’, McGahey emphasised, had an ‘economic connotation’. So ‘if a colliery was not beneficial in terms of profits, it was not economically viable’, and the NCB could close it. The NUM had to oppose this, ‘rejecting any concept of uneconomic closures, this being the basic, fundamental and central question of the whole dispute’. The question was particularly acute, of course, in Scotland, where no pit was ‘profitable’ according to the NCB, and so all would be vulnerable if the ‘beneficially developed’ proviso was accepted. If this is understood then it is difficult to sustain the notion that McGahey – contemplating an agreement that could have sacrificed the entire Scottish coal industry – would have settled where Scargill could not. McGahey, it must also be emphasised, recurrently distanced himself from any criticism of Scargill's conduct of the strike generally, including the decision not to hold a national ballot and the conduct of negotiations with the NCB.6 The government, he told the Scottish Area committee in July, was seeking to isolate the President, who was acting with the unanimous support of the NUM's national executive, and an extraordinary Annual Conference held two weeks or so earlier.7 Critics of Scargill, in these terms, were also critics of the policy of the NUM, and the generality of miners who were on strike. This explains why Jimmy Reid's attacks on Scargill, noted in this book's Introduction, and published, moreover, in newspapers and magazines that supported the Conservative government and opposed the strike, angered the strikers and many others in the labour movement. McGahey, it was remembered on Reid's death, pithily characterised his former Communist comrade as ‘Broken Reid’.8

Counter-factualism and its dangers are further illustrated by the account of the negotiations written in 1986 by Ned Smith, the NCB's Industrial Relations Director before the strike, a position which he retired from, exhausted and saddened, in January 1985. Smith disliked Scargill, whom he described as manipulative and an ‘entertainer’ or ‘actor’ rather than a serious industrial personality. McGahey, by comparison, was a ‘hard man’ but a ‘kind man’ who once rebuked Smith for making ‘ribald’ comments to a waitress at a dinner, asking ‘if I would like anyone to speak to my daughter in that way’. McGahey was a pragmatic and effective negotiator too, according to Smith, accepting some closures to protect the larger interests of the industry. In these terms Smith provided a variant of the counter-factual view, claiming that a McGahey presidency would have altered events by preventing the strike from happening at all. But Smith also showed that, with the strike under way, the ‘beneficially developed’ proviso was impossible for the NUM to accept.

Smith's account illuminates too the crucial factor that counter-factual literature tends to evade: the NCB Chairman, Ian MacGregor, and the government (p.146) were by the summer committed to ‘the grinding defeat’ of ‘our employees’ and ‘the dreadful bitterness which that entailed’. MacGregor and the government were consequently prepared to derail any settlement that the strikers could claim as victory. This was the source of Smith's growing unhappiness and ultimate resignation. He was certain that MacGregor, operating under government instruction, was opposed to reaching an agreement on pit closures after June. Before the penultimate round of talks in London that the NUM believed to be meaningful, in September, the Chairman took a telephone call that Smith overheard. MacGregor told the caller that there would be no agreement. McGahey, it should be emphasised, advised the NUMSA strike committee that he too was convinced that MacGregor was taking instructions from the government during these and later talks.9

The prospects of ‘peace’ were further diminished by two factors, according to Smith. First, there was the instruction in early September to NCB Area Directors to accelerate the organised resumption of work, supported by armoured buses and other strike-breaking paraphernalia. Second, there was the ‘verbal violence’ of the government from the summer months onwards, encapsulated in the Prime Minister's characterisation of the left wing of the NUM as the ‘enemy within’, and the insistence by Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the immense economic and financial costs of the strike represented a ‘worthwhile investment’.10

The ultimate scale of this ‘investment’ has recently been estimated at £6 billion, roughly £20 billion at 2011–12 prices, in lost production and tax revenues, charges for replacement coal stocks and additional oil burn, diminution of related economic activity, including that related to forfeited purchasing from mining households, and the very heavy burden of policing charges.11 By comparison, the NCB's pres-trike projected annual losses for 1984–85, it will be remembered from Chapter 2, were only £100 million.12 Had McGahey succeeded where Scargill had not, and secured from the NCB – despite MacGregor's opposition – an agreement on pit closures that preserved the bulk of the industry, including in Scotland, then this would surely have been destabilised by the government. Increasing ministerial confidence had been evident in Scotland in September, when Tebbit sabotaged an inter-union agreement on railway carriage of coal to Ravenscraig, as detailed in Chapter 3. The unambiguous ambition of Thatcher and her ministers thereafter, with the striking miners isolated, was to secure unconditional victory over the NUM. This would bring closer their larger strategic goals of neutralising organised labour, reducing state enterprise commitments and effecting wider economic restructuring.13

The government pursued this strategy through its final crisis of the strike, the threatened industrial action of NACODS members in October, which was briefly examined in Chapter 3. NACODS members, to elaborate a little, were responsible for maintaining the safety of underground workings and operations in collieries. They were not involved in the strike, and had been working more or less normally since 12 March. The NUM, in Scotland and elsewhere, had also been supplying members on a routine basis to undertake their normal share of (p.147) safety operations. This practice was complicated, however, and periodically interrupted, by strike-breaking, which the NUM attempted to resist by withdrawing its members' participation from safety cover. This caused frictions in Scotland, and contributed to serious problems at several pits in August, starting at Bilston Glen, where safety cover was withdrawn on or around 7 August. The Scottish Area strike committee heard evidence that this was counter-productive, stimulating further handfuls of men, worried that the pit's future was now being jeopardised, to break the strike. The strike-breakers, in effect, became numerous enough to take responsibility for safety away from the strikers. At other pits the number of strike-breakers was too small to ensure proper safety: NUM and SCEBTA strikers went in to Frances over the weekend of 18–19 August, but did not do so at Polkemmet, the serious flooding of which was announced on 28 August.14

NACODS members were now drawn into the dispute by a change in NCB policy. In the opening months of the strike, pit deputies who refused to cross large pickets because they felt threatened were usually still paid by the NCB for the shift that they missed. By the autumn this policy was shifting: deputies turning away from heavily picketed pits were generally not being paid.15 Those deputies who crossed the picket lines were now also working alongside strike-breaking miners, enabling production in Scotland as elsewhere. Substantial tensions arose. Managers at Seafield, for example, were intermittently worried in October by the number of NACODS men who were ‘turned’ away by NUM pickets.16 The NACODS executive responded to the misgivings of its members by agreeing to hold a ballot on strike action in opposition to the threat of pit closures. Such strike action would have brought mining to a halt across the entirety of NCB operations, placing enormous pressure on the government. The result of the subsequent ballot, with 82 per cent of those voting in favour of a strike, scheduled to begin on 25 October, was described by McGahey in discussion with NUMSA and SCEBTA comrades as a ‘magnificent result’. He warned, however, that the leadership of NACODS was seeking accommodation with the NCB, and moving its negotiating focus from pit closures to the less direct question of the colliery review procedure.17 This was a mechanism through which unions could contest, although would never, it transpired, be able to resist closure decisions taken by the NCB. Thatcher pushed MacGregor and the NCB to agree a new colliery review procedure with NACODS, in talks at ACAS on 23 and 24 October. This was a further practical illustration of the government's incremental, anti-trade union ‘Stepping Stones’ strategy, and the strike was averted,18 although pit-level problems persisted for another week or so. At Seafield NACODS members still observed NUM picket lines on 26 October and on the day shift of 1 November.19

Reviewing these events on 29 October, the Scottish Area strike committee agreed that a new phase was beginning, with special emphasis to be placed on the financial position, encompassing a Christmas appeal, and consolidating the strike in the communities.20 Maintaining endurance was an acute challenge, compounded when the NCB offered the substantial strike-breaking incentive of (p.148) Christmas bonuses to men who returned to work by 19 November.21 This seems to have accelerated the trend to work resumption at Bilston Glen, and gave some impetus to strike-breaking at Monktonhall and in Ayrshire. Elsewhere, however, the Scottish Area committee was able to record that no big ‘surge’ had materialised, despite the NCB's ‘blandishments and immoral actions in utilising children to blackmail fathers back to work for Christmas’.22 The strikers were not entirely isolated, of course, continuing to draw upon moral as well as limited material support from the wider labour movement. In late November the STUC convened a conference on the strike at Partick Burgh Halls in Glasgow, which emphasised the economic and social importance to Scotland of the coal industry. The STUC presented a paper that drew upon Andrew Glyn's analysis of NCB finances, and argued the case for the long-term future of Scottish deep mining. The immense political difficulties of the position were acknowledged, however, given the reality of large-scale industrial restructuring, unemployment, de-unionisation, and Thatcherite power.23 These were vividly realised in the conference's anti-climactic outcome, with Jimmy Milne, the STUC secretary, writing in quixotic fashion to the Prime Minister, seeking a meeting where Scottish labour and civic representatives would impress upon her the importance to Scotland of coal mining and the desirability of settling the strike through negotiation. Thatcher's response was predictable: she could not meet a Scottish delegation to discuss the strike, which was entirely the illegitimate creation of the NUM. Hardships to ‘miners, their families and their communities’ were the consequence of the ‘unreasonable’ nature of the union's ‘basic demand that uneconomic pits be kept open, regardless of the cost or whether the coal can be sold’.24

Willie Clarke recalls thinking at this point – after the NACODS agreement especially – that he was now in an invidious position. He felt the strike could not be won, but was compelled nevertheless to ask miners – along with their families and communities – to make further and ever-larger sacrifices.25 Ned Smith also recognised at about the same time that the strikers would not prevail but, unlike others at the NCB, knew the strike would not collapse. Instead a dreadful ‘attrition’ would materialise, encouraged by the government's triumphalist determination to humiliate the strikers and the NUM.26 One incident illustrates the government's hardening and vindictive anti-strike narrative attitude, and how it permeated the Scottish Office. A fortnight after the NACODS settlement, the NUMSA Women's Support Group requested a meeting with George Younger, the Secretary of State. This was refused by Younger's officials. Margaret Gray, the Women's Support Group Secretary, persisted, indicating that the women would publicise Younger's unwillingness to meet them as evidence of his indifference to ‘the miners, their wives and families’. One of Younger's officials, Muir Russell, drafted a response referring to the ‘sinister “bully boys” who are an affront to the democratic traditions of responsible trade unionism. Their despicable campaign is doomed to failure.’ These words were not used in Younger's eventual response, which was nevertheless couched in the same politicised and adversarial terms, claiming ‘it would be in the best interests (p.149) of all concerned if the women's support group were to divert their energies to encouraging a democratic ballot on the first-class offer which has been made to the miners’. This was a reference, presumably, to the new review procedure that had persuaded the NACODS executive to call off its proposed industrial action,27 but which promised no defence – as McGahey and other strike leaders in Scotland knew full well – against closures on economic grounds.

Policing and the NCB Strike-breaking strategy

Strike-breaking was still a patchy and minor phenomenon in late October, as Chapter 4 explored, but its potential was encouraged by the lost prospects of a negotiated settlement and support from NACODS, and the NCB's enhanced financial incentives for men who returned. This distracted the strikers from strategic economic targets, like Ravenscraig, or ports and power stations, for picketing was now necessarily and largely concentrated at collieries, to raise the social costs of strike-breaking by exerting community pressure on those who returned.28 A central problem for the strikers was the intervention of the police, who reduced these social costs by protecting strike-breakers. Policing of pit-gate picketing seems to have been heavier in Midlothian than elsewhere in Scotland. An early example came on 13 August, when 22 pickets were arrested at Bilston Glen by officers who provided safe passage for about 60 strike-breakers. This was conducted with ‘massive brutality and harassment’, according to McGahey, reporting to the Scottish Area strike committee.29

Police officers – in Scotland as elsewhere – arguably had a duty to provide protection to those exercising their individual ‘right to work’. Yet there is nevertheless a strong sense in which they acted partially, supporting the rights of the strike-breakers, and ruthlessly – and perhaps illegitimately – contravening the rights of the strikers. There is certainly clear evidence that strikers were being closely monitored by the police: their movements logged; their telephone calls tapped and recorded. Activists at the Midlothian strike centre in Dalkeith, suspecting this type of surveillance, telephoned local centres to ‘organise’ a blockade of Dunbar harbour. Meanwhile ‘runners’ in cars spread the real news: the strikers were going to occupy the NCB Scottish Headquarters at Green Park in Edinburgh, which they did, briefly, while the police patrolled Dunbar, searching for non-existent pickets. This story is related by David Hamilton within a wider narrative: that NCB management saw Midlothian as the strategic core of the strike, which would crumble throughout Scotland if it was broken at Bilston Glen and then Monktonhall. Lothian and Borders Police officers, in Hamilton's narrative, acted as the confederates of NCB management in pursuit of this strategic objective. Every member, he says, of the Dalkeith strike committee was arrested at one time or another, and Hamilton himself was frequently apprehended on picket lines. On one occasion first his brother and then his wife, Jean, were arrested by officers and handled roughly, in order, he maintains, to provoke him. Eventually he was charged with an alleged public order offence, committed away from the picket lines.30 Denied bail, he was held in Saughton (p.150) prison from the start of November until being found not guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 21 December.31

Many others were targeted in the same manner. Michael McGahey, a Bilston Glen NUM branch official and son of the union's Scottish President, was monitored by police officers, picketing at his own pit. He was arrested five times during the strike and fined £100 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, convicted for two public order offences committed at Cartmore open cast mine in Fife in June.32 As a consequence he was sacked by the NCB before the end of the strike.33 Another Bilston Glen activist, Robert Aitchison, told NUM officials that he was stopped by police officers at Dalkeith bus station on the afternoon of Sunday 13 May, and taken to a police station in the town. The officers knew that Aitchison did not live in Dalkeith, and warned him that he would be arrested if seen there again. Officers took him by road to the Eskbank roundabout, two miles west of the town, where he was dropped off and told to go home.34

The sense of being watched was not confined, it should be emphasised, to activists in Midlothian. The Ayrshire strike leaders also proved – to themselves at least – that their telephone lines were being tapped, by managing on one occasion to organise a mass picket of Hunterston by word of mouth alone. There were no police officers at the terminal when the pickets arrived. This harassment – along with the collusion between officers and the NCB – contributed to lost respect for the police in the Ayrshire mining communities. One incident in particular stood out, when the first strike-breaker was brought to Killoch on a bus from New Cumnock. Eight police officers were on board, and stopped the bus outside the colliery to admit six strikers, who wanted to dissuade the New Cumnock man from going to work. The bus drove through the picket line, with the strikers now on board. They were dropped off in the pit yard, and made their way back out, having failed to turn the strike-breaker. Three were subsequently sacked by the NCB for trespass. The structural injustice of the position was vehemently emphasised by the Ayrshire strikers: in a reversal of the normal legal convention, that a man was innocent until proven guilty, a striker charged with breach of the peace, or trespass, was guilty unless he could establish his innocence.35

Police harassment of strikers sometimes took a more subtle form. Tam Coulter told Willie Thompson in 1986 that, anxious about the position at Ravenscraig in May 1984, he had reconnoitred the Yuill and Dodds depot at Strathaven, wondering whether it would be possible to sabotage the lorries. Preventing them from leaving the depot would be safer and more effective than seeking to stop them on the open highway. On a second reconnaissance trip, this time with a union companion, he was stopped near the depot by men in an unmarked red Austin Metro, who said they were officers from Strathclyde Police CID. Coulter and his companion were asked to identify themselves and explain their presence in the area. Two days later, Coulter says, a story appeared in the Daily Record to the effect that striking miners had been intimidating residents who lived opposite the depot.36

(p.151) The partiality of the police, exhibited in these various incidents, was resented greatly by the strikers, and this had a lasting and damaging bearing on police-community relations. Strikers in other parts of the coalfield, especially Yorkshire, often likened the police presence in their communities, and at their collieries, to an invading force. This was exemplified to many of the strikers by the increasingly prevalent practice, unprecedented hitherto, of police marshalling inside NCB property, to help strike-breakers cross picket lines.37 ‘McGregor's men’, these officers were sometimes called.38 A similar narrative emerges from Scottish participants. Many – in Fife, at least, and Midlothian – observe that the ‘local’ police were usually ‘alright’, but trouble developed when officers from another area came into their communities. This amounted to an invasion, and indeed an occupation, by an alien and hostile force.39

The civil liberties of strikers were certainly transgressed, notably – in the Scottish experience – where Strathclyde Police apprehended strikers travelling to Hunterston and Ravenscraig in May 1984. This, it will be remembered, was central to the breaking of the Scottish Area strike strategy, easing the flow of materials to the steel mill, and the political pressure on the government in Scotland. A meeting between the Secretary of State for Scotland and Labour MPs had followed, where Younger suggested that miners who felt wronged by the police should pursue the matter through the courts. Alex Eadie, MP for Midlothian, and chair of the mining group of MPs, responded from an overtly class-conscious perspective: his constituents did not trust in the neutrality of the legal system, and were additionally unlikely to pursue legal action against the police because the expense was prohibitive. He added an important observation about the broader social consequence of what he saw as the government's political use of the police force: ‘the damage which was being done to the police relationship with the country. If this suffers we all suffer.’40

The anti-strike bias of the police, reinforced by the anti-trade union prejudices of the judiciary, is an important element in activist narratives. Eric Clarke and Nicky Wilson both emphasise that individuals convicted of public order charges in Sheriff Courts in the mid-1980s normally received fines of £15 or £20, but striking miners, going through the same courts, and convicted of the same charges, were fined much larger sums. The younger Michael McGahey's £100 fine at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, or £150 even, was more typical,41 although there were instances of significantly larger punishments still. At Dunfermline Sheriff Court on 11 September two miners were fined £750 each, convicted for public order offences, after obstructing police officers at Castlehill. The two were said to have been wearing ‘spiked belts’, which may have been implements of intimidation but were not uncommon clothing accessories in 1984. One was fined an additional £200 for breaking bail conditions arising from an earlier picketing offence.42

The actions of the police and decisions of the judiciary elevated the economic costs of the strike. These were raised further by the NCB's strike-breaking strategy, which consisted of three elements. First, going back to work was encouraged through increased financial inducements, with Christmas bonuses, (p.152) and the type of enhanced redundancy discussed in Chapter 4, and the provision of ‘safe’ transport, on buses with grille-covered windows, to collieries where ‘security’ was strengthened.43 Barbed wire was erected around ‘Belsen’ Glen, as some miners came to call it,44 and was still in place in July 1985, months after the end of the strike.45 Second, there was a deliberate policy of intimidating strikers, significantly more pronounced in Scotland than elsewhere in the British coalfields. This involved victimising men who had been arrested by the police on picket lines and elsewhere by dismissing them from NCB employment. NUMSA and SCEBTA representatives and activists were targeted, to reinforce Wheeler's anti-union strategy.46 This bears emphasis. Some men were sacked for strike-related offences demonstrated via a guilty verdict in a court of law, such as Michael McGahey, who, like his grandfather and father before him, in the 1920s and 1940s respectively, lost his job as a consequence of trade union activity.47 Others were sacked while waiting for charges against them to come before the law courts; and some were sacked even where their legal innocence had been established. Despite being found not guilty for his alleged public order offence in December 1984, Hamilton was dismissed by the NCB.48 Another notorious individual injustice was at Bilston Glen, where Jackie Aitchison was sacked in September for allegedly encroaching on NCB property by stepping across a white line on the road during a picket.49 At a subsequent meeting between Lothian Regional Council's Highways Subcommittee and NCB officials it was apparently established that the line had been painted at the instruction of the colliery manager, without the local authority's approval, but Aitchison's sacking stood.50

The ferocity of this approach was undoubtedly in large part an extension of the abrasive managerial style adopted by the NCB Scottish Area under Albert Wheeler's directorship, which had elevated workplace tensions before the strike. Wheeler had no misgivings about inflicting defeat on the strikers, to further his assault on joint regulation of the industry. ‘We were in it to win,’ was how he subsequently characterised his management group's approach.51 Table 5.1 illuminates the disproportionately large incidence of victimisation, in the NCB Scottish Area generally, and at the Midlothian pits especially, where managers executed Wheeler's strategy ‘with relish’, according to Rab Amos, SCEBTA delegate at Monktonhall, targeting especially union representatives and activists.52

Table 5.1 Strikers and strike dismissals, 1984–85: selected NCB holdings

Strikers

Strikers dismissed

Percentage of strikers dismissed

England and Wales

131,000

800

0.61

Scotland

14,000

206

1.5

Bilston Glen

1,800

36

2.0

Monktonhall

1,700

46

2.7

Source: Hamilton, Interview; Guthrie, Coal Not Dole, p. 57; Richards, Miners on Strike, pp. 87, 100.

(p.153) The third strand of the NCB's strike-breaking strategy in Scotland was to emphasise the dangers to pits arising from the neglect of normal safety operations. Wheeler replicated his policy from the overtime ban that preceded the strike, prepared to sacrifice pits by insisting that power would be switched off where strikers refused to provide safety cover: pumping and other maintenance activities would cease, and coal faces would be flooded, potentially irreparably.53 These dangers were created by Wheeler and his managers: safety cover was being provided by strikers until the NCB organised strike-breaking. Some local managers, BACM members, sought to undertake the safety operations normally undertaken by strikers, which was the practice in the English and Welsh coalfields. Wheeler was unyielding in his response.54 ‘If your members want to do the jobs of pump men and winding enginemen,’ he told a leading BACM official in Scotland, ‘I'll see that's what they'll do when the strike ends.’55 These words were apparently spoken in August, during a crisis at Polkemmet, which was flooded beyond rescue after pit management switched off the fans and pumps that kept the workings operable. This, union officials recall, was outright malevolence, instigated by the pit manager, whom David Hamilton refers to as ‘one of Wheeler's kids’.56 The loss of underground public assets, at an estimated value of £300 million, including machinery as well as the coal reserves, was resented bitterly by Polkemmet's miners as managerial sabotage of major community and public assets.57 It still represents an affront to the moral economy of the coalfields, being likened by Eric Clarke and Nicky Wilson to wanton criminal damage. They contrast the punitive treatment of miners who were convicted of picket-line and other strike-related offences with the rewards enjoyed by coal managers generally and Wheeler especially, who secured a number of promotions within the NCB and its successor, British Coal, after the strike.58

If the situation at Polkemmet was calamitous, albeit arguably of management's making, the safety hazards trumpeted elsewhere by the NCB were almost certainly exaggerated. The Midlothian managers, Hamilton says, were ‘trying it on’ from the autumn onwards,59 and the Frances and Seafield men were harassed with the help of the Scottish Office in February 1985. First, George Younger issued a press statement asserting that the closure of Frances was imminent, with the loss of more than 500 jobs. This was the consequence of a major underground fire, caused, it was claimed, by strikers neglecting normal maintenance and safety procedures. The strike was therefore ‘threatening jobs and not defending them’.60 The Fife strikers were then attacked by Younger in an article printed the following weekend in the Sunday Post. This claimed that Seafield was also in danger, and was written by Muir Russell at the Scottish Office, after conversations with Wheeler and Bill Anderson, editor of the Sunday Post. Russell advised colleagues that Anderson was ‘looking for strong meat about the harmful effects of the strike in Scotland’ and ‘the wrecking results of Arthur Scargill and company’. Russell reprised the essence of his hostile response to the NUMSA Women's Support Group in November, describing the strike as ‘the most pointless, unpleasant and damaging industrial dispute Britain (p.154) has ever seen’, ‘forced on miners without a ballot and extended and sustained by violence and intimidation of a kind never seen in this country’. The flooding of Polkemmet and the ‘question mark’ over the Fife pits were entirely the responsibility of the NUM.61 The article was ideological hyperbole. Coal, admittedly, was never extracted from Frances again, but that was a managerial decision, economically rather than geologically determined, and the colliery remained open until 1988.62 The claim that employment was jeopardised at Seafield was even more tenuous: ‘nonsense’, according to Iain Chalmers, who recalls how easily work was resumed after the strike, with coal dug almost immediately.63 Similarly, on 16 August the NCB announced the closure of three faces at Castlehill, after management had responded to the NUM's alleged non-provision of safety cover by switching off power and safety machinery in accordance with Wheeler's policy. The pit itself, along with 600 jobs, was said to be threatened,64 but it remained open, still employing almost 700 men, until 1990.65 Two union representatives at Castlehill, Tam Mylchreest and Sam Cowie, staged a 48-hour underground protest against the power switch-off at the pit from 28 August. They were subsequently sacked, for alleged trespass on NCB property.66

Going back

‘We couldnae win,’ says Eric Clarke: the combined opposition of the NCB, the government, private capital and business, which helped to fund the strike-breaking movement, was overwhelming, and compounded by the practical anti-strike work of the judiciary and the police.67 NUMSA and SCEBTA leaders probably recognised the inevitability of defeat by January 1985, and began seeking a means of bringing the strike to an end. This was the ‘right thing’ to do, according to David Hamilton,68 but national union officials remained wedded to the hope – or fantasy – of outright victory. Peter Heathfield, NUM General Secretary, told a meeting of the union's left in January 1985 that the NCB would soon be ‘crawling back’ to the negotiating table.69 Scargill, meanwhile, damaged the credibility of the union – and the strike – by continuing to assert verifiable untruths. One example was picket-line violence, which Scargill continued to claim was the result of police actions alone. But pickets were violent, Willie Clarke says: they had to be, for they were fighting for their jobs and communities. Pretending otherwise was a mistake, and weakened the case that the miners were attempting to argue.70

By the middle of February the strike in Ayrshire was over: the NCB claimed that 1, 051 were working at Killoch, some 71 per cent of the workforce, and 492 working at Barony, 68 per cent.71 Endurance in Ayrshire had eventually foundered, as Chapter 4 indicated, on the relatively marginal position of women, which heightened the economic costs of striking, and lowered the social costs of strike-breaking. False rumours also abounded that the NCB could legally sack all miners who had been on strike continuously for twelve months.72 There was, according to local strike leaders, one additional factor: further fruitless talks that were geared to achieving a negotiated settlement. Involving the (p.155) TUC and government representatives as well as the NCB and the NUM, these were sabotaged once more at Cabinet level.73 Morale in Ayrshire plummeted. The men had been ‘built up an drapped, built up an drapped’, largely by the wilfully unrealistic coverage of the talks, exaggerating the prospects of an agreement, in news media that were in any case hostile to the NUM and its strike.74 The union leadership's insistence that the fight would continue – for another year if necessary – ‘finished most of the boys’, according to one of those who returned in February, speaking ten years later to Joe Owens.75

In East Fife the strike, which had started, remember, in February 1984, was also finally crumbling. Management recorded 119 strike-breakers on Friday 8 February, and 203 on Tuesday 19 February. On Monday 25 February there were 38 ‘new faces’ on the day shift, a further 39 on 26 February, 39 more on 27 February, and another 29 on Thursday 28 February. On Friday 1 March a total of 341 men worked the day shift.76 Willie Clarke and Jocky Neilson were highly troubled by this. Some of the ‘influential boys’ at the Dysart area centre said they could only hold the men back for one more week. The NUM South Wales Area proposal for an organised return to work had already materialised, and Clarke and Neilson travelled to Glasgow to discuss this with the executive committees of NUMSA and SCEBTA on 1 March. There was, however, a major obstacle: the 206 sacked men. Unless they were reinstated by the NCB a significant body of strikers in Scotland would refuse to go back, and so the union executives voted jointly for a continuation of the strike.77

On Sunday 3 March an NUM Delegate Conference in London voted 98 to 91 for a return to work, but this was opposed by all twelve NUMSA and all four SCEBTA delegates present, because of the absence of an amnesty for the sacked men.78 SCEBTA delegates then voted to accept a resumption of work,79 but NUMSA delegates, on Monday 4 March, initially voted narrowly against, by seven votes to six. The decisive vote to prolong the strike was cast by the Bilston Glen delegate, encapsulating, perhaps, the apparent intractability of the position facing NUMSA and SCEBTA, caught between the men returning to work, and those adamant on staying out, especially because of the victimisation question. Seafield miners voted that night for a return to work.80 McGahey was seeking to secure this end across the coalfields ‘with unity and dignity’, and on Wednesday 6 March, as the Seafield and Frances miners effected their mass return along with the Cowdenbeath workshops men, a reconvened delegate conference voted by ten to five for a resumption of work. There was bitterness during this meeting, and outside afterwards, where NUMSA's leading officials, McGahey, Eric Clarke and George Bolton, were verbally abused by strikers, mainly from Stirlingshire, Clackmannan and West Fife. Delegates who had supported the resolution to end the strike, including men who had been sacked, such as David Hamilton, were spat at, and called scabs, according to Jocky Neilson.81 McGahey, terribly, was badly assaulted on the following evening near his Edinburgh home. When facing reporters on the Monday that followed, the bruises of the attack still evident, he defiantly asserted that his assailants were not striking miners.82

(p.156) On Thursday 7 March miners returned to work at Polkemmet, Bilston Glen and Monktonhall, marching behind bands and banners, accompanied to the gates – but not beyond them – by the sacked men.83 Meanwhile meetings were underway in Clackmannan, West Fife and Stirling, with union representatives – desperate to maintain unity – working hard to secure a resumption of work.84 This was effected at the Longannet pits and Comrie on Monday 11 March,85 although the men remained ‘rebellious and bitter’, according to Tam Coulter. They knew the costs of defeat but accepted the decision to go back. The resumption was eased by using Alexander's buses, hired at a weekly cost to the union for Castlehill alone of £20, 000. The Alexander's men, TGWU members, refusing to cross picket lines, had been sacked. Park's of Hamilton, the ‘arch enemy’, had been brought in to bus the strike-breakers to work, and were retained by the NCB after the strike. Without the temporary expedient of using Alexander's – which lasted two or three weeks – there might have been no resumption, and possibly violence on the Park's buses, perhaps against the drivers, resulting in additional dismissals. On 11 March the men were dropped at the pit yards by the Alexander's buses, and marched in together. This was important symbolically, showing management that the workforce would not be submissive.86 One week later, on Monday 18 March, the Polmaise men – determined to be the last to relinquish a strike which had arguably started at their pit – finally returned to work.87

Iain Chalmers, on strike continuously at Seafield for thirteen months, found on preparing to go back that he had put on weight: he had been eating less, but using less energy too, and his working clothes were a tight fit. On the road to catch the bus from Cowdenbeath he was applauded by an older neighbour, leaning out of her window as he passed. The atmosphere at the pit was unpleasant. Strikers were initially kept apart from the strike-breakers, working different shifts, but there was friction at shift changeovers. The ‘toe rag’ who had broken the strike early, waving his bum and his wages to pickets from the bus as it sped through the colliery gates, left the industry shortly afterwards. He had discounted his own future, as well as the colliery's.88 The new situation was confronted by the first post-strike meeting of the Colliery Consultative Committee, on 4 June 1985, attended by Scottish Area NCB and NUM officials, including McGahey and Eric Clarke. A new colliery manager, J. Soutar, outlined the difficulties facing the industry in East Fife, with the combined financial losses for Seafield and Frances likely to exceed £19 million in the financial year to 1986. McGahey spoke generally about the willingness of union officials to support Seafield's future as a ‘safe and efficient colliery’.89 But morale remained low, damaged by management's focus on the colliery's ‘poor’ financial position. Redundancy terms were on offer, with the proviso that they were taken by the end of 1986. Around 300 men left in the remaining months of 1985, but most stayed: there were between 900 and 1, 000 when the pit closed in 1987, after a lengthy fire. Many transferred to Castlehill, including Iain Chalmers, and others to Solsgirth.90

At these pits, within the Longannet complex, the strike had been extremely (p.157) solid. Perhaps it was as a result of this that union representatives gradually regained a footing, resisting managerial incursions on joint regulation a little more effectively than elsewhere. Overtime, for instance, now determined at most pits by management fiat, was still moderated by union involvement at Castlehill and Solsgirth.91 But there were redundancies at the complex, tending to concentrate on older and so more experienced and generally more skilled men, and the number of accidents apparently increased. More broadly within the complex there was a managerial emphasis on degrading conditions and breaking agreements, notably on shift patterns, that union representatives could only partly withstand.92 Enhanced managerial confidence and prerogative was evident at Polmaise,93 and even more strongly apparent in Ayrshire, in rhetoric and practice. At Barony the CCC heard at the end of April 1985 that management planned to cut the workforce from 800 to 500 over the summer through voluntary redundancy. When union representatives said that such a radical change should have been subject to extensive consultation, the colliery deputy manager replied that ‘whether the union agreed or disagreed’ with management proposals was now ‘irrelevant’: the changes would take place regardless.94 The same sentiment was articulated at Killoch, where the colliery manager described the pre-strike consultative arrangements at the pit as now ‘irrelevant’.95

Tensions between management and workers, and between strikers and strike-breakers, were perhaps most strongly evident in Midlothian. At Bilston Glen managers carried the practice of downgrading joint industrial regulation and consultation further than elsewhere, introducing direct ‘face to face’ meetings between the colliery manager and employees in the canteen. Direct management-worker dialogue is often presented as good democratic practice, but tends in fact to be an important element of anti-trade union managerialism. Managers control the agenda in direct consultative forums, and usually issue information and instructions rather than debate the organisation and execution of work with employees.96 Bilston Glen management reinforced the erosion of joint industrial regulation in the remainder of 1985 and thereafter. Where joint consultative meetings had been held on a fortnightly basis before the strike, they were now only once every six to eight weeks. Management continued to express a preference for direct talks with the employees, without union representatives present, even where high-order strategic questions, including the increasingly precarious production position, were being examined. The deterioration of production was explained in diametrically opposing terms by management and union representatives. The former – reprising, essentially, pre-strike arguments – emphasised low worker effort and absenteeism; the latter focused on the impact on workforce morale – and hence, on productivity – of management's anti-union initiatives, particularly the continued victimisation of strikers. Some of the sacked men had been reinstated at Bilston Glen. This was the result of a concerted effort by union officials across Scotland, led by George Bolton, although the overwhelming majority of the 206 men originally sacked, including most of the union representatives and activists, were not reinstated.97 The older reinstated men at Bilston Glen, aged 50 and up, were now being denied the chance of redundancy on the same terms as (p.158) others at the colliery. This was an echo of the pre-strike redundancy question in Midlothian, with older miners tied to Bilston Glen as a deliberate attempt by the NCB to weaken the pit's strike capacity. There was now a sense in which these men, having struggled through the strike to retain their jobs, were now being additionally punished, forcibly ‘retained’, against their will.98

There were other frictions at Bilston Glen. A large number of men were transferred from Polkemmet after the strike, many of whom greatly resented the alien and adversarial management culture, which compounded their sense of grievance and loss.99 There were also serious tensions between Midlothian strikers and strike-breakers. One alleged manifestation of these was the sabotage of cars belonging to strike-breakers, with wheel nuts said by management to have been loosened on two vehicles in July 1985 and another in September 1985, which ‘shuddered’ on the Eskbank roundabout. In the same month, again according to management, an underground worker – presumably a former strike-breaker – found ‘human excrement’ in his ‘piece box’, or snap tin.100 There were similar difficulties at Monktonhall, where there was a new pit manager, Willie Kerr, who had worked until 1982 in Fife, where to some he was a hero, helping to rescue two men during the fatal accident at Seafield in 1973.101 But in Midlothian he is remembered by union representatives as a clumsy bully. On the first day of normal operations after the strike Kerr told Rab Amos that he could no longer conduct union business during working hours. This revoked long-standing pre-strike arrangements. ‘Why?’ Amos asked. ‘You arenae runnin the pit; Ah'm runnin the pit,’ Kerr replied.102 Kerr's determined assault on trade unionism was illustrated in two other incidents. First, there was a fatal accident just two weeks after the end of the strike. The deceased was a young miner, in his early twenties, from Bonnyrigg. David Hamilton entered the colliery between shifts shortly afterwards, with two other NUM officials, seeking to settle compensation arrangements on behalf of the dead miner's family, but was marched off the premises by security staff. ‘Worse than that’, Hamilton recalls, pit management then initially refused to allow privately hired buses to come into the colliery, to collect the hundreds of men attending the dead miner's funeral. This terrible event, not least because of the miscalculated behaviour of pit management, closed the divisions slightly between strikers and strike-breakers, Hamilton recalls.103

These divisions were not closed entirely, however, as the second episode, several months later, indicates. This stemmed from an argument in Newtongrange Park between a striker, Tam Miller, and a strike-breaker, W. Dempsey, both miners at Monktonhall. Amos says that Miller was from a ‘good family’ in Newtongrange, with a tradition of solid work and union membership. He was a young father too. Dempsey, meanwhile, was a ‘super scab’, and a member of the United Democratic Mineworkers (UDM).104 This was the rival to the NUM established among working miners during the strike, with substantial financial and moral assistance from business and political supporters of the Conservative government.105 Despite encouragement from NCB managers the UDM failed to embed itself in Scottish collieries,106 and indeed was unable to (p.159) establish any substantial position outside Nottinghamshire and the English Midlands.107 Miller had been sacked during the strike, and was reinstated just two weeks before the argument in the park, having provided managers with assurances about his future behaviour. The two men had been in a pub nearby, Miller with a friend, and Dempsey with his wife. Dempsey told NCB officials that he had been ‘severely’ beaten by Miller. Miller admitted to punching Dempsey, but only after Dempsey had provoked him, saying he was lucky to have been reinstated at Monktonhall. Miller was sacked again, on Dempsey's evidence. This was contested by union representatives at a meeting shortly afterwards with management at Monktonhall. Peter Hogg of the NUM outlined the highly tenuous case against Miller: there was no police involvement in the argument, which took place outwith working hours and several miles from the colliery; and there had been no witnesses to the incident other than Miller's friend and Mrs Dempsey. Kerr nevertheless confirmed the sacking. Hogg responded by referring to the NCB's prejudicial treatment of ‘our men’, strikers like Miller, while extending preferences to ̒the likes of Dempsey, the strike-breaker, ‘and co’. The outcome, he added, would ‘only harden attitudes at the colliery and will not help cement the relationships we are trying to build’.108

Monktonhall union officials continued to fight back afterwards, organising a one-day strike in support of Miller, but the sacking was not revoked.109 This unilateral managerial decision vividly exemplified the NCB's aggressive transgression in Scotland of the moral economy of the coalfields, where decisions in the workplace were jointly agreed, and the economic security of the workforce was protected. A further affront to this moral economy was the continued and lasting victimisation of the men sacked during the strike. McGahey told the STUC conference in Inverness in April that he was especially angered by the treatment of young miners, who with courage and determination had sought to defend their pits and communities, and the people's energy.110 The injustices were further articulated in the same month by a group of Scottish Labour MPs, led by Donald Dewar and Alex Eadie, in a meeting at the House of Commons with Younger and Allan Stewart, the Scottish Office Minister for Industry and Education. Dewar emphasised the disproportionate level of sackings in Scotland, and Eadie said that the men had been denied a right of appeal that was enshrined in the conciliation mechanisms established in the 1946 Coal Industry Nationalisation Act. Younger replied that the sacked men could take their cases to an Industrial Tribunal. Dewar said that this would be entirely unsatisfactory: Industrial Tribunals could find that men had been illegitimately dismissed, but not order their reinstatement.111

The abandonment of existing conciliation procedures in Scotland was, it should be emphasised, a matter of managerial agency rather than legal requirement. In South Wales, where as a whole the strike was even more solid than in Scotland as a whole, the NCB Area Board sacked 42 miners during the strike: all were eventually taken back, except two men convicted of killing a taxi driver who was driving a strike-breaker to work.112 In Scotland, by contrast, only a small number were reinstated. ‘It's blood they want,’ said Alex McCallum, a (p.160) sacked Polmaise miner in 1986, referring to NCB management in Scotland, ‘and the whole Scottish coalfield shut. Thousands of boys out of a job, aye, it's blood they want.’113 The issue remained highly divisive within collieries and also, perhaps predictably, between collieries. In May 1985 NUM members across England, Wales and Scotland were balloted on the question of a 50p weekly levy to support miners sacked during the strike. While the majority vote was against this measure, in Scotland it was in favour. Yet the sharp cleavage within Midlothian – observable in the highly distinct pit-level strike histories – remained evident: at Bilston Glen there was a slight majority against the 50p levy, while at Monktonhall the vote in favour was by a ratio of three to one.114

Conclusion

The manner of the ending of the strike in Scotland, and its aftermath, in some ways resembled developments elsewhere in the coalfields. The over-arching oppositional presence of the government, and its business and media supporters, was a factor everywhere. So too was the partiality of the policing of pickets and dispensing of criminal justice against strikers, particularly union activists. In Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland, where the strike was initially solid, and less so in Kent and South Wales, there were also back to work movements, organised by local NCB management, which grew in momentum, particularly after Christmas. Across the coalfields, after March 1985, there was a common managerial emphasis on speeding up production, intensifying work effort, and downgrading the consultative role of labour.

In at least two other respects, however, the Scottish experience was highly distinct. First, the relatively marginal economic position of collieries in Scotland, however objectionable the NCB's measures of the true costs of coal-getting might be characterised as, meant that high-level joint industrial negotiations in pursuit of a settlement were terribly fraught. Any deal that offered the possibility of closing pits other than on grounds of exhaustion was likely to privilege ‘economic’ considerations. The term ‘economic’ was dangerously malleable, always liable to be equated by critics of nationalised industry generally and opponents of the NUM especially with ‘profitable’. Scottish pits as a whole were extremely vulnerable on these narrow financial grounds, when measured against pits in most other NCB Areas. It is essential to emphasise this, for one objectionable feature of the literature on the strike that has been challenged here is the counter-factual notion that a ‘deal’ on closures could have been secured had the NUM been led by Michael McGahey rather than Arthur Scargill. This could only have come at the cost of many jobs in Scotland, with Polmaise and perhaps several other collieries – Bogside, Comrie, Frances and Polkemmet to start with – closed by the end of 1984 or 1985. McGahey well knew that the generality of Scottish strikers would not easily have accepted such eventuality.

The second distinctive Scottish aspect of the ending was closely related to the difficulties of procuring an acceptable negotiated settlement. This was the disproportionately high level of victimisation in Scotland. Sackings of men for (p.161) actions that were often away from pits, and alleged rather than proven in a court of law, were part of the NCB's strike-breaking and anti-union strategy in Scotland. This strategy had clear roots in the immediate pre-strike history of workplace and industrial politics in the Scottish coal industry, pre-figuring antiunion advances that were made elsewhere either only haltingly before March 1984, or after the NUM had been defeated nationally after March 1985. In Scotland the aftermath of the strike marked the further consolidation of this process, with union representatives expelled from the industry. The capacity of those who remained to exert influence in the workplace was further eroded by managerial fiat, buttressed by additional redundancies, and the threat of further closures. The moral economy of the coalfields, with its emphasis on joint industrial regulation and economic security, had been defeated along with the strike.

Notes

(1) NAS, SEP 4/6028, Sit Rep, 11 March 1985; the Scotsman, 19 March 1985.

(2) Aitken, Bairns O' Adam, pp. 274–9; Beckett and Hencke, Marching to the Fault Line, passim, but especially pp. 103–46, 179–200; Fraser, History of British Trade Unionism, pp. 239–42; Reid, United We Stand, pp. 402–4; Stewart, ‘“Tragic Fiasco?”’, passim, but especially 44–6; Taylor, Trade Union Question, pp. 294–8.

(3) Owens, Miners, p. 90.

(4) Hamilton, Interview; Willie Clarke, Interview.

(5) Hyman, ‘Reflections’, 337–43.

(6) Mcllroy and Campbell, ‘McGahey’, pp. 248–9; Taylor, ‘McGahey’.

(7) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 23 July 1984.

(8) Obituary, Jimmy Reid, by Brian Wilson, the Guardian, 11 August 2010.

(9) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 15 October 1984.

(10) Smith, Actual Account, pp. 29–47

(11) Brotherstone and Pirani, ‘Were There Alternatives?’

(12) TNA, COAL 74/4783, CINCC, 6 March 1984.

(13) Hutton, The State We're In, pp. 85–6, 89–110; Saville, ‘An Open Conspiracy’, 311–12.

(14) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 7 August, 13 August and 20 August 1984.

(15) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 196–7.

(16) NAS, CB 398/15/7, Effects of Strike, Seafield, Daily Shift Reports, 10 October, 15 October and 23 October 1984.

(17) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 8 October 1984.

(18) Hencke and Beckett, Marching to the Fault Line, pp. 138–45.

(19) NAS, CB 398/15/7, Effects of Strike, Seafield, Daily Shift Reports, 26 October and 1 November 1984.

(20) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 29 October 1984.

(21) NAS, SEP 4/6029/1, Sit Rep, 19 November 1984.

(22) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 19 November 1984.

(23) GCU, STUC, General Council Papers, STUC paper on coal in the Scottish Economy, presented to Special STUC conference, Thursday 29 November 1984.

(p.162) (24) GCUA, STUC, Milne to Thatcher, General Council Minutes 5 December 1984, and General Council Papers, Thatcher to Milne, 14 December 1984.

(25) Willie Clarke, Interview.

(26) Smith, Actual Account, pp. 147–9.

(27) NAS, SOE 12/573/1, Margaret Gray's letter to George Younger, 13 November 1984, and Muir Russell's various draft responses, November 1984.

(28) Amos, Interview.

(29) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 13 August 1984.

(30) Hamilton, Interview.

(31) NAS, SEP 4/6029/1, Scottish Office Situation Reports, 20 and 21 December 1984.

(32) NAS, SEP 4/6028, Sit Rep, 19 June 1984, and SEP4/6029, Sit Rep, 20 December 1984.

(33) Owens, Miners, pp. 82–3.

(34) SMM, NUMSA, Box 10, Area Coordinating Committee, Report, 13 May 1984.

(35) Ayrshire strike leaders, Interview with Thompson.

(36) Coulter, Interview with Thompson.

(37) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 123–6.

(38) McCabe et al., Police, Public Order, and Civil Liberties, pp. 69–91.

(39) Neilson, Interview with Thompson; Hamilton, Interview.

(40) NAS, SOE 12/571, Policing of the Miners' Dispute: Secretary of State's Meeting with a deputation of Labour MPs led by Mr Donald Dewar on 23 May 1984, Dover House.

(41) Eric Clarke, Interview; Wilson, Interview.

(42) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep 11 September 1984.

(43) Maxwell, Chicago Tumbles, pp. 142–3.

(44) Scottish Miner, October 1984.

(45) NAS, CB 229/3/1, Bilston Glen CCC, 30 July 1985.

(46) Bolton, Interview with Thompson.

(47) McIlroy and Campbell, ‘McGahey’.

(48) Hamilton, Interview.

(49) Scottish Miner, October 1984.

(50) SMM, NUMSA, Box 8, Tribunals.

(51) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, p. 178.

(52) Amos, Interview.

(53) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 184–5.

(54) Bolton, Interview with Thompson.

(55) Perchard and Phillips,

(56) Hamilton, Interview.

(57) Owens, Miners, pp. 74,

(58) Eric Clarke, Interview; Wilson, Interview.

(59) Hamilton, Interview.

(60) NAS, SOE 12/573, Secretary of State for Scotland, Statement regarding Closure of Frances Colliery, 4 February 1985.

(61) NAS, SOE 12/573, A.M. Russell to Private Secretary, Secretary of State for Scotland, 6 February 1985, regarding his conversation with Wheeler; C.F. Corbett to Private Secretary, Secretary of State for Scotland, regarding Russell's conversation with Bill Anderson, 8 February 1985; clipping, the Sunday Post, 10 February 1985.

(62) Oglethorpe, Scottish Collieries, p. 144.

(63) Chalmers, Interview.

(64) NAS, SEP 4/6027, Sit Rep, 16 August 1984.

(65) Oglethorpe, Scottish Collieries, p. 140.

(p.163) (66) Mylchreest, Interview with Thompson.

(67) Eric Clarke, Interview.

(68) Hamilton, Interview.

(69) Bolton, Interview with Thompson; Willie Clarke, Interview.

(70) Willie Clarke, Interview.

(71) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep, 11 February 1985.

(73) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 214–15.

(74) Ayrshire strike leaders, Interview with Thompson.

(75) Owens, Miners, p. 41.

(76) NAS, CC 398/15/7, Effects of Strike, Seafield, Daily Shift Reports, February to March 1985.

(77) Bolton, Interview with Thompson; Willie Clarke, Interview.

(78) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep, 4 March 1985.

(79) Moffat, Interview with Thompson.

(80) Willie Clarke, Interview.

(81) Neilson, Interview with Thompson; NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep, 7 March 1985.

(82) The Times, 12 March 1985.

(83) Scottish Miner, March 1985.

(84) McCaig, Interview with Thompson.

(85) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Reps, 5–7 March and 11 March 1985.

(86) Coulter, Interview with Thompson.

(87) The Scotsman, 19 March 1984.

(88) Chalmers, Interview.

(89) NAS, CB 398/3/2, Seafield CCC, 4 June 1985.

(90) Neilson, Interview with Thompson; Willie Clarke, Interview; Chalmers, Interview.

(91) Coulter, Interview with Thompson.

(92) Owens, Miners, pp. 61–2.

(93) Owens, Miners, pp. 117–18.

(94) NAS, CB 221/3/4, Barony CCC, 30 April 1985.

(95) NAS, CB 328/3/4, Killoch CCC, 16 May 1985.

(96) Karen Legge, Human Resource Management: Rhetoric and Realities (Basingstoke, 2005), pp. 303–11.

(97) George Bolton, Interview with Thompson; Mylchreest, Interview with Thompson.

(98) NAS, CB 229/3/1, Bilston Glen CCC, 14 May 1985 and 18 March 1986.

(99) Owens, Miners, pp. 75–6.

(100) NAS, CB 229/3/1, Bilston Glen CCC, 30 July and 10 September 1985.

(102) Amos, Interview; Hamilton, Interview.

(103) Hamilton, Interview.

(104) Amos, Interview.

(105) Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, pp. 171–8.

(106) Eric Clarke, Interview; Moffat, Interview with Thompson.

(107) Taylor, NUM and British Politics. Volume 2, pp. 281–97; Wrigley, ‘The 1984–5 miners' strike’, pp. 223–4.

(108) NAS, CB 363/17/8, Handwritten (NCB) account of NCB–NUM meeting, Monktonhall Colliery, 2 December 1985.

(p.164) (109) Amos, Interview.

(110) 88th Annual Report, pp. 223–5.

(111) NAS, SOE 12/573, Note of a Meeting Held at the House of Commons, 17 April 1985: Coal Board Dismissals.

(112) Hamilton, Interview.

(113) One Year On. Sacked Polmaise Miners Speak Out (Airth, 1986), edited by Steve McGrail.

(114) Scottish Miner, May 1985.

Notes:

(1) NAS, SEP 4/6028, Sit Rep, 11 March 1985; the Scotsman, 19 March 1985.

(2) Aitken, Bairns O' Adam, pp. 274–9; Beckett and Hencke, Marching to the Fault Line, passim, but especially pp. 103–46, 179–200; Fraser, History of British Trade Unionism, pp. 239–42; Reid, United We Stand, pp. 402–4; Stewart, ‘“Tragic Fiasco?”’, passim, but especially 44–6; Taylor, Trade Union Question, pp. 294–8.

(3) Owens, Miners, p. 90.

(4) Hamilton, Interview; Willie Clarke, Interview.

(5) Hyman, ‘Reflections’, 337–43.

(6) Mcllroy and Campbell, ‘McGahey’, pp. 248–9; Taylor, ‘McGahey’.

(7) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 23 July 1984.

(8) Obituary, Jimmy Reid, by Brian Wilson, the Guardian, 11 August 2010.

(9) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 15 October 1984.

(10) Smith, Actual Account, pp. 29–47

(11) Brotherstone and Pirani, ‘Were There Alternatives?’

(12) TNA, COAL 74/4783, CINCC, 6 March 1984.

(13) Hutton, The State We're In, pp. 85–6, 89–110; Saville, ‘An Open Conspiracy’, 311–12.

(14) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 7 August, 13 August and 20 August 1984.

(15) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 196–7.

(16) NAS, CB 398/15/7, Effects of Strike, Seafield, Daily Shift Reports, 10 October, 15 October and 23 October 1984.

(17) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 8 October 1984.

(18) Hencke and Beckett, Marching to the Fault Line, pp. 138–45.

(19) NAS, CB 398/15/7, Effects of Strike, Seafield, Daily Shift Reports, 26 October and 1 November 1984.

(20) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 29 October 1984.

(21) NAS, SEP 4/6029/1, Sit Rep, 19 November 1984.

(22) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 19 November 1984.

(23) GCU, STUC, General Council Papers, STUC paper on coal in the Scottish Economy, presented to Special STUC conference, Thursday 29 November 1984.

(p.162) (24) GCUA, STUC, Milne to Thatcher, General Council Minutes 5 December 1984, and General Council Papers, Thatcher to Milne, 14 December 1984.

(25) Willie Clarke, Interview.

(26) Smith, Actual Account, pp. 147–9.

(27) NAS, SOE 12/573/1, Margaret Gray's letter to George Younger, 13 November 1984, and Muir Russell's various draft responses, November 1984.

(28) Amos, Interview.

(29) SMM, NUMSA, Box 13, NUMSA Strike Committee Minutes, 13 August 1984.

(30) Hamilton, Interview.

(31) NAS, SEP 4/6029/1, Scottish Office Situation Reports, 20 and 21 December 1984.

(32) NAS, SEP 4/6028, Sit Rep, 19 June 1984, and SEP4/6029, Sit Rep, 20 December 1984.

(33) Owens, Miners, pp. 82–3.

(34) SMM, NUMSA, Box 10, Area Coordinating Committee, Report, 13 May 1984.

(35) Ayrshire strike leaders, Interview with Thompson.

(36) Coulter, Interview with Thompson.

(37) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 123–6.

(38) McCabe et al., Police, Public Order, and Civil Liberties, pp. 69–91.

(39) Neilson, Interview with Thompson; Hamilton, Interview.

(40) NAS, SOE 12/571, Policing of the Miners' Dispute: Secretary of State's Meeting with a deputation of Labour MPs led by Mr Donald Dewar on 23 May 1984, Dover House.

(41) Eric Clarke, Interview; Wilson, Interview.

(42) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep 11 September 1984.

(43) Maxwell, Chicago Tumbles, pp. 142–3.

(44) Scottish Miner, October 1984.

(45) NAS, CB 229/3/1, Bilston Glen CCC, 30 July 1985.

(46) Bolton, Interview with Thompson.

(47) McIlroy and Campbell, ‘McGahey’.

(48) Hamilton, Interview.

(49) Scottish Miner, October 1984.

(50) SMM, NUMSA, Box 8, Tribunals.

(51) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, p. 178.

(52) Amos, Interview.

(53) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 184–5.

(54) Bolton, Interview with Thompson.

(55) Perchard and Phillips,

(56) Hamilton, Interview.

(57) Owens, Miners, pp. 74,

(58) Eric Clarke, Interview; Wilson, Interview.

(59) Hamilton, Interview.

(60) NAS, SOE 12/573, Secretary of State for Scotland, Statement regarding Closure of Frances Colliery, 4 February 1985.

(61) NAS, SOE 12/573, A.M. Russell to Private Secretary, Secretary of State for Scotland, 6 February 1985, regarding his conversation with Wheeler; C.F. Corbett to Private Secretary, Secretary of State for Scotland, regarding Russell's conversation with Bill Anderson, 8 February 1985; clipping, the Sunday Post, 10 February 1985.

(62) Oglethorpe, Scottish Collieries, p. 144.

(63) Chalmers, Interview.

(64) NAS, SEP 4/6027, Sit Rep, 16 August 1984.

(65) Oglethorpe, Scottish Collieries, p. 140.

(p.163) (66) Mylchreest, Interview with Thompson.

(67) Eric Clarke, Interview.

(68) Hamilton, Interview.

(69) Bolton, Interview with Thompson; Willie Clarke, Interview.

(70) Willie Clarke, Interview.

(71) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep, 11 February 1985.

(73) Adeney and Lloyd, Miners' Strike, pp. 214–15.

(74) Ayrshire strike leaders, Interview with Thompson.

(75) Owens, Miners, p. 41.

(76) NAS, CC 398/15/7, Effects of Strike, Seafield, Daily Shift Reports, February to March 1985.

(77) Bolton, Interview with Thompson; Willie Clarke, Interview.

(78) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep, 4 March 1985.

(79) Moffat, Interview with Thompson.

(80) Willie Clarke, Interview.

(81) Neilson, Interview with Thompson; NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Rep, 7 March 1985.

(82) The Times, 12 March 1985.

(83) Scottish Miner, March 1985.

(84) McCaig, Interview with Thompson.

(85) NAS, SEP 4/6029, Sit Reps, 5–7 March and 11 March 1985.

(86) Coulter, Interview with Thompson.

(87) The Scotsman, 19 March 1984.

(88) Chalmers, Interview.

(89) NAS, CB 398/3/2, Seafield CCC, 4 June 1985.

(90) Neilson, Interview with Thompson; Willie Clarke, Interview; Chalmers, Interview.

(91) Coulter, Interview with Thompson.

(92) Owens, Miners, pp. 61–2.

(93) Owens, Miners, pp. 117–18.

(94) NAS, CB 221/3/4, Barony CCC, 30 April 1985.

(95) NAS, CB 328/3/4, Killoch CCC, 16 May 1985.

(96) Karen Legge, Human Resource Management: Rhetoric and Realities (Basingstoke, 2005), pp. 303–11.

(97) George Bolton, Interview with Thompson; Mylchreest, Interview with Thompson.

(98) NAS, CB 229/3/1, Bilston Glen CCC, 14 May 1985 and 18 March 1986.

(99) Owens, Miners, pp. 75–6.

(100) NAS, CB 229/3/1, Bilston Glen CCC, 30 July and 10 September 1985.

(102) Amos, Interview; Hamilton, Interview.

(103) Hamilton, Interview.

(104) Amos, Interview.

(105) Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, pp. 171–8.

(106) Eric Clarke, Interview; Moffat, Interview with Thompson.

(107) Taylor, NUM and British Politics. Volume 2, pp. 281–97; Wrigley, ‘The 1984–5 miners' strike’, pp. 223–4.

(108) NAS, CB 363/17/8, Handwritten (NCB) account of NCB–NUM meeting, Monktonhall Colliery, 2 December 1985.

(p.164) (109) Amos, Interview.

(110) 88th Annual Report, pp. 223–5.

(111) NAS, SOE 12/573, Note of a Meeting Held at the House of Commons, 17 April 1985: Coal Board Dismissals.

(112) Hamilton, Interview.

(113) One Year On. Sacked Polmaise Miners Speak Out (Airth, 1986), edited by Steve McGrail.

(114) Scottish Miner, May 1985.