The economy in crisis: Churchill sides with pitmen

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The Independent Online
REDUNDANT miners, faces blackened from their final shift, crammed into the canteen at Silverhill pit in Nottinghamshire yesterday to see a rare sight: two Tory MPs lambasting their government, writes Malcolm Pithers.

Winston Churchill, MP for Davyhulme, slightly incongruous in a navy blue suit, stood in their midst and said loudly it had been an 'inept' decision that he would oppose all the way. It made 'no economic sense'.

Elizabeth Peacock, MP for Batley and Spen, was equally vociferous. 'At least she's wearing red', one miner said as he listened. Mrs Peacock said: 'I think it is outrageous what the Government and British Coal have done. It is an atrocious decision. It is also totally unrealistic. You could not close a whelk store in three days never mind a mine.'

Both MPs told the miners that it would take only 11 Tories in the Commons to pledge themselves on the side of the miners and the Government would not be able to proceed with the closures. Mr Churchill said: 'It is quite unacceptable that the decision which affects lives and jobs of 30,000 people, and probably nearer 100,000, can be taken in such a manner without the full Cabinet being consulted.'

The miners at Silverhill remained unconvinced their pit would be saved. But Mr Churchill told them: 'I will be very surprised indeed if the Government has a majority.'

Silverhill officially closed yesterday and its 817 employees walked away unsure whether legal action would save their jobs.

(Photograph omitted)