Crisis in the Pits: Scargill leads calls for action over pit closures: Bishop of Sheffield and UDM join in condemnation of mass redundancies announced by British Coal

UNION leaders called for strikes, Tory Midland MPs were shocked, and the Bishop of Sheffield called for a 'national uprising' in the wake of pit closures revealed yesterday.

Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said he would be urging his members to stand up and fight at an emergency meeting to discuss the closures tomorrow.

'It cannot be justified on social grounds. It is a deliberate political act of industrial vandalism perpetrated against an already decimated industrial landscape. Miners have a choice - either to lie down and let this happen or stand up and fight back,' he declared, despite a warning from British Coal that any industrial action would lead to a loss of the miners' severance payments of up to pounds 37,000.

For once, the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers seemed to agree with the leaders they left behind amid bitterness in the miners' strike of 1984-85. Neil Greatrex, president of the Nottinghamshire area of the UDM, called on the TUC to co-ordinate protest action against the loss of jobs. 'Things are not going to change until we get rid of this pigging Government,' he said.

The threat of a militant mood from moderate miners in Nottinghamshire could be damaging to a number of Conservative MPs who have constituencies in the county, including Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary. Jim Lester, Tory MP for Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, said coal had been made to bear the brunt of the the switch to gas. 'I wonder how much bad news the Government can take,' he said.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev David Lunn, described the job losses as 'wicked' and 'evil'.

'To destroy those jobs - and so many of the coalfield communities - for the sake of imported coal and the squandering of our very limited resources of gas must be sheer madness.

'To close down a pit which still has good mineable coal in it is wicked - a waste of what God has given us.'

Clearly incensed at the scale of the compulsory redundancies, Mr Scargill said 16 coal-fired power stations also faced closure with the loss of more jobs.

'There is no economic basis for the closure of these collieries. Here is an industry that is profitable and should be making a valuable contribution to the long-term energy requirements of Britain,' he said. Veteran miners' leader Mick McGahey, 67, a former national vice-president of the NUM, denounced Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, as a 'hypocritical eunuch'.

In a furious onslaught against what he termed the biggest act of industrial vandalism in history, the former Scottish miners' leader said: 'This government are the modern Luddites, destroying the fabric of our society, the basis of our industry, destroying whole communities.'

Some Tory MPs were expecting a backlash from the UDM, which helped the Thatcher government survive the miners' strike. The closures were described as 'catastrophic' by Andrew Mitchell, the Tory MP for Gedling, Nottinghamshire.

'As politicians, nationally and in Notts, we need now to work together to ensure that we take the necessary action to bring hope for the future to these communities,' he said.

Mr Mitchell said it was wrong to talk about a 'slap in the face' for the UDM. 'Everyone has known this was coming . . . I think it is extremely difficult to blame the Government because I think it is as a result of the market and the fact that gas generation has increased enormously.'

Mr Scargill said the gas which was being sought to replace the coal-fired stations was 30 per cent more expensive and nuclear power was 350 per cent more expensive. Imports of coal would add pounds 700m to the balance of payments deficit. He believed it would cost the taxpayer some pounds 2.1bn to close down the collieries along with a further huge expense involved in the closure of the coal-fired power stations. The redundancy on offer amounted to no more than about two years' salary, he said, and at the end of that time the prospect was to become an addition to the lengthening dole queue of four million.

Dr Michael Clark, the MP for Rochford in Essex and Conservative chairman of the all-party group for energy studies, warned Britain would become a 'hostage' to the world coal markets. Fifteen or 20 pits and a few open cast mines could not be called a coal industry, he said.

The Government was challenged over the pounds 1bn to be made available to meet redundancy costs and to give help to mining communities. The Coalfields Communities Campaign said it had identified only pounds 20m as new money as the vast bulk was for severance payments and the rest came from existing programmes. Mr Heseltine said that mining communities around Doncaster, Barnsley and Mansfield would be given assisted area status to help attract new investment and jobs.

English Estates, the Government's property developer, had been asked to advise on a programme to provide industrial and commercial sites and premises. Colliery sites will be cleared by British Coal to make them available.

Leading article, page 20

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn