Letter: Scargill's service to the Tories

Sir: I was not surprised to read that Arthur Scargill is still committed politically to ideals that were around 100 years ago ("Why Britain now needs a Socialist Labour Party", 2 May). The same could be said of his industrial policy. What he fails to recognise in setting up the Socialist Labour Party is that the conditions that people live and work in, and their aspirations, have changed dramatically while his beliefs have not. His policy to eradicate unemployment by "introducing a four-day working week with no loss of pay, banning all non-essential overtime, and introducing voluntary retirement on full pay at the age of 55" is a demandism without common sense.

It may well be right to describe the billions of pounds a year that we pay out on unemployment as economic insanity but no more so than Mr Scargill's demandism. His accusation that new Labour is in the process of abandoning the principle of universal pension provision is not true but we do have to recognise that many people at work pay into pension schemes, public or private, as I did when I worked in the coal-mining industry.

Mr Scargill and anybody who becomes one of his groupies will have to recognise that they are doing as much of a service to the Conservative Party as many other leaders of factions have done throughout the years by splitting the left-of-centre votes. However, I have to say his defection has pleased far more people in the Labour Party than it has disappointed.

I doubt very much whether Mr Scargill's political platform would be accepted anywhere in the world. His defence of his candidate's poor showing in the Hemsworth by-election is that her vote was only 1 per cent behind the Liberal Democrat's vote. What Mr Scargill failed to recognise was that it was 67 per cent behind new Labour's candidate, and long may it remain so.

Kevin Barron MP

(Rother Valley, Lab)

House of Commons