“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for March 15th, 2009

Another Reason to Avoid the Guardian.

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Thanks to Jim at the Daily (Maybe), otherwise I wouldn’t have read Peter Lazenby’s excellent letter rebutting the misleading leader article in the Guardian, and it reminds me why I have long since stopped reading the Guardian, that is leaving aside their appalling coverage of the Middle East or pandering to anti-Jewish racism on CiF, their Daily Mail coverage dressed up as angst liberalism is incredibly tedious.

Peter Lazenby should be congratulated for correcting the Guardian’s Tory-lite leader:

“As a rewriting of modern industrial history, your leader on the miners’ strike and its aftermath (A war no one deserved to win, 7 March) takes some beating. “Public opinion never wavered in opposition to the strike and its tactics,” you claim. In reality, tens of thousands of people across Britain mobilised in support of the miners’ fight to defend their pits, their jobs and their communities. Hundreds of organised support groups were established to raise funds and collect food for miners and their families.

Your article also says “the mass labour movement of the 1980s did not lift a finger on the miners’ behalf”. Despite enormous pressure other workers did in fact support the miners, including the rail workers who refused to carry coal by train. Indeed the combination of union and community support was arguably the most sustained civilian mobilisation in Britain since the second world war.

And while you claim that “It was Mr Scargill’s ruthless intransigence … which prevented the dispute from ending”, as Arthur Scargill points out in the same edition (‘We could surrender – or stand and fight’, 7 March), on four occasions a settlement was agreed by the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Coal Board which, on each occasion, was sabotaged by the Thatcher government.

Perhaps most absurd of all is the claim that “The miners were on their own in a Britain that found it could get along without either coal or communities – and increasingly without unions too.”

Get along without coal? Closure of the coal mines did not mean an end to burning coal in Britain. In 2007 Britain imported 43m tonnes, half of it from Russia, at a cost of more than £2bn to our balance of payments. The Tory government abandoned Britain’s leading place in the development of clean coal technology. Meanwhile, we sit on an estimated 200 years of abandoned reserves.

Thanks to the coal industry’s destruction, Britain is at the start of an energy supply crisis that can only worsen. As predicted in 1984-85, the burning of North Sea gas to make electricity has wiped out 200 years of gas reserves in less than 30. We now import gas from, or across, some of the world’s most unstable regions. As a result energy prices have soared, and will continue to do so.

Get along without communities? Communities are at the heart of civilisation. The effect of their collapse, as a result of pit closures, is well documented and easily seen in many of Britain’s coalfields.

Get along without unions? The destruction of the NUM led to an unprecedented attack on Britain’s trade union movement. Membership fell from 13m to 6m. It has steadied since, helped by Labour’s restoration of union members’ rights to workplace recognition in 1999.

The current recession has also provoked growing resistance across Britain. Today I will enter my fourth week of industrial action at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post in Leeds, where 140 National Union of Journalists members are resisting compulsory redundancies, demanding fair severance, and most importantly defending quality provincial journalism.

I don’t know if we will win. I do know that, like the miners, we will fight.

• Peter Lazenby is chairman of the Leeds branch of the NUJ and was the Yorkshire Evening Post’s industrial reporter during the 1984-85 miners’ strike”

Written by modernityblog

15/03/2009 at 18:43

Posted in Uncategorized