Scargill: plot victim or 'brat'?

THE REMAINS of Arthur Scargill, unearthed by rival schools of political thought, are expected to provoke one last great quarrel before the miners' union president is embalmed in trade union history.

Two books, scheduled for publication during the Trades Union Congress and Labour Party conferences this autumn, offer conflicting views of the decline within a decade of a leader who took control of the most powerful union in Britain.

Seumas Milne, labour correspondent of the Guardian, concludes in The Enemy Within that the National Union of Mineworkers has been reduced to its present divided and impotent state by a conspiracy.

Mr Milne, who has described his book as a whodunnit, will claim that Conservative ministers used the security services to sabotage the 1984-85 miners' strike and infiltrate the union's national executive committee to thwart its freedom of action. The Government then manipulated energy policy grotesquely to ensure contraction of coal-mining and NUM power, he claims.

Mr Scargill, a proud Yorkshire proletarian, has co-operated with Mr Milne, son of Alasdair, the former director-general of the BBC.

But Paul Routledge, a former labour editor of the Times who is also proud of his Yorkshire proletarian roots, has met tight-lipped resistance to his biography, suitably titled Scargill: The Unauthorized Biography. The NUM president refused him an interview, and so did members of the small circle of ageing activists still loyal to Mr Scargill; others, once close, have been candid and damning.

Fearful anticipation of what they might say was rumoured to have led Mr Scargill to encourage Mr Milne's book, to limit damage threatened by the Routledge researches. The rivalry between a pro-Scargill scion of the Establishment and an anti-Scargill, determinedly unsophisticated Yorkshire nationalist has delighted the labour movement.

Mr Milne, who dug into the story from the Scargillite left, began his book several months before Mr Routledge, from a more sceptical starting point on the left, foresaw a conclusive round of pit closures and decided that the time was ripe for a full biography.

It will run from cradle to political grave. At the TUC and Labour conferences, Mr Scargill can expect to be marginalised by unambiguous condemnation of his leadership of the NUM, which has shrunk to a membership of around 15,000.

Mr Routledge believes many sources were unwilling to speak to him either under persuasion from Mr Scargill or because of the 'extraordinary' loyalty felt to the NUM. 'The argument goes: an attack on Arthur Scargill is an attack on the union which is an attack on you.

'Arthur plays on the loyalty of the men. He's traded on it shamelessly over the years, and when you come close to a man like that, it is a voyage of disillusion.'

Mr Routledge and Mr Scargill once enjoyed 'a sensible professional relationship, as close as any in his days as Yorkshire NUM president'. But a schism opened during the strike; Mr Routledge does not know why.

Mr Milne has told friends that only Roger Windsor, the former NUM official who later accused Mr Scargill of maladministration, refused him an interview. The NUM president gave one.

It is expected to endorse 'some spooky things' Mr Milne discovered about the activities of GCHQ, MI5, and those who have criticised Mr Scargill in newspaper and television disclosures.

Mr Routledge, using erstwhile private archives and some 60 interviews, has a less conspiratorial explanation of the NUM president: 'Forget politics - he's a spoiled brat.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor