Thursday, 14 November 2013

Clash Of The Titans

Arthur Scargill in the arms of the police. But was he all bad?

If decades are defined by individual years, then Great Britain in the 1980's must surely be all about what happened in 1984, and an event which could have easily brought Margaret Thatcher's government to its knees.

Flashback to 12th March 1984, when the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Arthur Scargill, faced up to Thatcher's reforms of the British mining industry, by instigating a strike which would eventually last almost a year, and in turn make him an icon of the 1980's.

It's nearly thirty years since images of striking miners battling with police poured from our televisions, and filled the pages of the tabloid press, and it's nearly thirty years since Scargill almost destroyed Thatcher's government.

Hated by those who mirrored Thatcher's anti-union stance, and idolised by those very men he represented, Scargill was seen as a leader who wasn't going to give up the fight easily.

But how can I imagine that this man is an icon, when most people believe that he was just an inciter of mindless violence, keen on promoting his own image?

Margaret Thatcher: Is she worthy of icon status?

Well, even today, Scargill is still seen as a man whose beliefs and principles are something which must be admired. Here is a man who is still held in high esteem by his band of loyal followers. And this respect is something which we can sometimes show to men like Scargill, even if his battle to save our mining industry was eventually a lost cause. Unlike Thatcher, Scargill is truly remembered for what he wanted to achieve, and not for what he did achieve. His desire to achieve was just as great as Thatcher's own will and determination, even if the outcome of his efforts was failure.
If only Arthur Scargill, as Neil Kinnock quite rightly pointed out, had brought his men out on strike during the winter of 1984, instead of the beginning of spring, the outcome to a bloody and brutal war may have been completely different. Thatcher would have been in no position to call the shots, because a winter without coal-fired power stations wasn't something she would have wanted to force upon her adoring public.

Yes, Scargill incited trouble, and yes there were terrible scenes of violence. There was death and there was misery. They were certainly the worst of times if you were part of a mining family. But coming from a town just a few miles from a typical mining village, the pride which the mining community displayed, and the belief in the leader was evident for all to see.

I am certainly not saying that Scargill was all good, but a man who has principles and a passion to achieve something positive is certainly worthy of a degree of respect.

Richard Branson and David Beckham may well be adored and idolised by millions of people, but what have these shallow individuals ever done to achieve such status? Branson is far from the great man he would have us believe, and Beckham has never spoken a meaningful sentence in his entire life. But how the public love such people, and how the public love to loathe those people who perhaps deserve better.

Luke Ryman is the author of "The Londoners" trilogy - a series of books about two men who will try anything to better themselves.


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