The Labour Party in Blackpool: Miners' double act in plea to fight closures

THE MINING double act of Arthur Scargill and Dennis Skinner brought the Labour conference to its feet yesterday in the only real emotional spasm of the week with delegates roaring their approval for a fight against colliery closures.

In an echo of the heady rhetoric of the 1984 miners' strike, Mr Scargill recalled his conference claims at the time that the Tory government had a hit list of pits earmarked for closure.

'I was told that I was ready for the loony bin. I was told that I was telling lies; 140 pit closures and 140,000 redundancies later, I ask this conference who told the truth and who told the lies,' the NUM president said.

According to a leaked confidential letter from Tim Sainsbury, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, to Michael Portillo, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, another 30 pits are to be closed. About 25,000 jobs would go, with probably as many again in associated industries.

Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover, said the Government wanted 'total revenge' on the National Union of Mineworkers. 'They want to close the lot down . . . Let's take up the cudgels on behalf of the miners and all those who have lost their jobs. Let's co-ordinate that struggle between those inside Parliament and those outside and let's fight tooth and nail.'

The rapturous standing ovations for the two left-wingers forced Gordon Brown, the Shadow Chancellor, to postpone an emergency statement on the row with the Bundesbank. Party leaders had hoped the statement would show the conference dealing with relevant issues, but following directly on such a display of sentiment and emotion it would have been eclipsed.

Completing the picture of the conference back in the acrimonious Eighties, Bill Jordan, president of the right-wing AEEU engineers, was hissed and booed as he tried to establish, on a point of order, that the NUM motion was not a call for the closure of the nuclear industry. Manufacturing unions supported opposition to pit closures but were not prepared to accept an attack on the nuclear, gas and construction industries, he said.

Delegates began chanting 'off, off' until Eddie Haigh of the National Executive Committee, chairing the session, threatened to suspend the conference.

The emergency motion had nothing to do with the party's nuclear policy, Mr Haigh said. Though Mr Jordan voted for the motion, his fears did not appear groundless. The motion describes the closure programme as an 'act of industrial genocide' and attributes it to the Government's obsession with nuclear power and the dash for gas-fuelled power stations.

Mr Skinner told delegates that John Major did not care about pit closures because there were no collieries near Chelsea, the Oval or Lord's.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders