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
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • 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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss