Arthur Scargill

British trade unionist (born 1938)

Arthur Scargill (born January 11, 1938) is a British trade unionist. He was the President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from 1981 to 2002 and has served as leader of the Socialist Labour Party, a political party he founded, since 1996.

Quotes edit

1967–1980 edit

  • I can honestly say that I never heard flannel like we got from the Minister... he said that we have nuclear power stations with us, whether we like it or not. I suggest to this Conference that we have coal mines with us... but they did something about this problem: they closed them down. This was a complete reversal of the policy... that was promised by the Labour Government before it was put into office... this represents a betrayal of the mining industry.
    • Speaking after a Labour Party conference speech on energy policy by Richard March (July 1967), quoted in Andrew Taylor, The Politics of the Yorkshire Miner (London: Croom Helm, 1984), p. 60
  • It is impossible to have workers' control within a capitalist society. Capitalism, by its very nature, produces contradictions which cannot be resolved until and unless we change the system of society...The unions could only have class collaboration and compromise with the mixed economy, and those who advanced the theory of workers' control in present-day society were putting forward an intellectual, Utopian dream, idealistic, unworkable and unattainable.
    • The Miner (5 December 1977), quoted in Paul Routledge, "Scargill attack on idea of worker directors", The Times (5 December 1977), p. 17
  • I believe this judgment should firmly convince any trade unionist that it is useless hoping for justice in the courts of this land. The only way we are going to obtain justice in my view is by fighting for democracy as our forefathers did in establishing the trade union and Labour movements.
    • Speech (21 December 1977), quoted in Paul Routledge and Ronald Kershaw, "Judge stops attempt to ban pit bonus plan", The Times (22 December 1977), p. 1

1981–1988 edit

  • "My father still reads the dictionary every day. He says your life depends on your power to master words."
    • The Sunday Times (10 January 1982)
  • Legislation is introduced by Parliament, but we should remember that all our advances, freedom and liberties are due to men and women who, when their conscience compelled them, have been prepared to defy the law. If legislation is introduced which erodes our basic freedom and democracy or threatens our right to combine, we should oppose it with the same vigour and determination of our forefathers. I believe it will be necessary to use all measures, including industrial action, to defy Tebbit's law and defend our movement.
    • Speech in Yorkshire (15 March 1982), quoted in Paul Routledge, "Scargill urges strike against Tebbit Bill", The Times (16 March 1982), p. 2
  • We need action not words. For the first time we are facing the prospect of seeing legislation introduced which denies the right of trade unionists to come to the assistance of other unionists and denies the right of trade unionists to seek the support of others in their disputes. There is only one response. Faced with this legislation we should say we will defy the law. It is the only action we can take and it is the only response this movement can give. If there is an attempt to use this legislation then you defy it not as an individual union but as a movement.
    • Speech to the Trades Union Congress at Brighton on the Employment Act 1982 (7 September 1982), quoted in Alan Wood, John Winder and Gordon Wellman, 'Overwhelming vote to defy 'anti-union laws' ', The Times (8 September 1982), p. 4.
  • This is a fight for the survival of British mining industry and I am not prepared to accept the imposition of a pensioner from the United States whose mandate is to destroy this industry as he destroyed the British steel industry. I give warning to the board and to the Government that they must now give very serious reconsideration to the policies and the proposals they are trying to implement in pit closures and the reduction in manpower levels. I am convinced that the mineworkers have now reached the point where enough is enough.
    • Speech (2 March 1983), quoted in Ronald Kershaw, "Scargill demands strike solidarity", The Times (3 March 1983), p. 2
  • Waiting in the wings, wishing to chop us to pieces, is Yankee steel butcher MacGregor. This 70-year-old multi-millionaire import, who massacred half the steel workforce in less than three years, is almost certainly brought in to wield the axe on pits. It's now or never for Britain's mineworkers. This is the final chance – while we still have the strength – to save our industry.
    • The Miner, quoted in Paul Routledge, "Pit strike would last 'very long time' warns NCB", The Times (8 March 1983), p. 1
  • My attitude would be the same as the attitude of the working class in Germany when the Nazis came to power. It does not mean that because at some stage you elect a government that you tolerate its existence. You oppose it...[I will oppose a second-term Thatcher government] as vigorously as I possibly can.
    • Interview (12 May 1983), quoted in Paul Routledge, "Tories likened to Nazis", The Times (13 May 1983), p. 1
  • The miners of this country will now have to seriously consider their position and recognise that at some stage they are going to have to stand and fight in defence of our industry, in defence of our jobs and above all to retain a dignity and respect.
    • Interview (15 June 1983) quoted in David Felton, "65 thousand pit jobs to go, says Siddall", The Times (16 June 1983), p. 1
  • Mr Murray would be well advised to direct his attacks towards the Tory Government, who have been devastating our industry and smashing down British industry as a whole. I would remind Mr Murray that the TUC at Congress two years ago voted for extra-Parliamentary action – and in essence political strike action – when it decided to oppose Government laws against the miners...I believe that the miners will recognise, sooner or later, that they will have to stand and defend this industry, their jobs, dignity and self-respect.
    • Speech in Perth (1 July 1983), quoted in Paul Routledge, "Scargill rejects Murray call on political strikes", The Times (2 July 1983), p. 1
  • A fight back against this Government's policies will inevitably take place outside rather than inside Parliament. When I talk about 'extra-parliamentary action' there is a great outcry in the press and from leading Tories about my refusal to accept the democratic will of the people. I am not prepared to accept policies elected by a minority of the British electorate. I am not prepared quietly to accept the destruction of the coal industry, nor am I willing to see our social services decimated. This totally undemocratic Government can now easily push through whatever laws it chooses. Faced with possible parliamentary destruction of all that is good and compassionate in our society, extra-parliamentary action will be the only course open to the working class and the Labour movement.
    • Speech in Perth (4 July 1983), quoted in Paul Routledge, "Pit leaders seek backing for big pay increases", The Times (5 July 1983), p. 1
  • I am opposed to Solidarity because I believe that it is an anti-socialist organisation which desires the overthrow of a socialist state.
  • I did not join this Party to have a yuppy-land approach, to run capitalism better than the Tories. I joined this party to change this society and create a socialist alternative.
    • Speech to the Labour Party Conference (3 October 1988), quoted in "Scargill in furious attack on reform", The Times (4 October 1988), p. 9

Quotes about Scargill edit

  • That man told the truth, and truth still has value in the politics of our society when all the lies, half truths and half promises about independent reviews are dismissed. ... Arthur Scargill has been rehabilitated more quickly than any man I have known. Within 24 hours, everyone knew that he was right. The miners certainly did.
    • Tony Benn, speech in the House of Commons (21 October 1992) after the government announced pit closures
  • Oh I detest him! I did then, I do now, and it's mutual. He hates me as well. And I'd much prefer to have his savage hatred than even the merest hint of friendship from that man.

External links edit

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