THE MINERS' leader Arthur Scargill is to blame for some of the pit closures, Neil Kinnock, the former Labour Party leader, said yesterday.
Miners were weakened and the Government was now able to pick off pits 'in ones and twos', Mr Kinnock said. He criticised Mr Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, for his leadership of the 1984-85 coal strike.
'The way in which his part of the leadership of the NUM conducted the argument did ensure, in my view, first of all that the prophesy of massive mine closures came true,' he said.
Had the dispute been conducted differently and had there been a ballot 'I think the dispute would have been much longer and secondly there would be more pits open now. Indeed the relationship between coal miners and the management of the coal mining industry in Britain would be very different from the one that we have now,' Mr Kinnock said on BBC Television's Breakfast With Frost programme.
'What we've now got is a government that made its announcement last October, met with universal revulsion, and decided the only mistake they'd made was a failure of public relations. They didn't think that they'd done anything wrong with the economy or the environment or employment.
'So what they did was to kill the pits by ones and twos, which is what they are doing now. Because of the fact that the coal mining labour force has been fragmented and weakened as a result of the history of the last nine years, the Government is in a much stronger position to do that to great national disadvantage.'
Arthur Scargill yesterday urged the TUC to call a special 24-hour strike by all workers in protest at pit closures and other job losses.
He told a rally outside the recently closed Parkside pit on Merseyside: 'It is time that all of us were not merely determined to repeal all the anti-trade union legislation. If you are serious and you are socialist you go one stage further. You defy the law. You do not accept it.'