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?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas