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Arthur Scargill

Arthur Scargill

Overview
Arthur Scargill is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 politician who was President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from 1982 to 2002, leading the union through the 1984–85 miners' strike
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

, a key event in British labour and political history. He is the current leader of the Socialist Labour Party
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 (SLP), which he founded in 1996.

Scargill was born in Worsbrough Dale, Barnsley
Barnsley
Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England. It lies on the River Dearne, north of the city of Sheffield, south of Leeds and west of Doncaster. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and...

, Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

. His father, Harold, was a miner and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

. His mother Alice (née Pickering) was a professional cook.
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Encyclopedia
Arthur Scargill is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 politician who was President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from 1982 to 2002, leading the union through the 1984–85 miners' strike
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

, a key event in British labour and political history. He is the current leader of the Socialist Labour Party
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 (SLP), which he founded in 1996.

Early life


Scargill was born in Worsbrough Dale, Barnsley
Barnsley
Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England. It lies on the River Dearne, north of the city of Sheffield, south of Leeds and west of Doncaster. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and...

, Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

. His father, Harold, was a miner and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

. His mother Alice (née Pickering) was a professional cook. Arthur was much doted on by his parents as he was an only child, and his mother had previously been told that she was unable to have children . He did not take the Eleven plus exam, and went to Worsbrough Dale School (now called the Elmhirst School
The Elmhirst School
The Elmhirst School was a comprehensive school on the B6100 in Worsbrough Dale, south of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England.-History:It was the Worsbrough High School, which became known as Elmhirst School in the 1990s...

) leaving school at 15 to become a coal miner at Woolley Colliery
Woolley Colliery
Woolley Colliery is a village on the edge of the Barnsley and Wakefield districts in Yorkshire, England. The village itself is in South Yorkshire whilst the former colliery is situated in West Yorkshire...

 from 1953, where he became the pit delegate ten years later. Scargill was a member of the Young Communist League from 1955 to 1962, and joined the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 in 1962.

National Union of Mineworkers


Scargill became involved in the Yorkshire Left, a group of left-wing activists involved in the Yorkshire region of the NUM, its largest region. While still a working miner, he played an important role in the miners' strike of 1972, involved in the mass picket at Saltley Gate in Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

. Shortly afterward, he was elected to the full-time post of compensation agent in the Yorkshire NUM. A few months later, the President of the Yorkshire NUM died unexpectedly. Scargill was elected to this post in 1973 and continued in it until 1981. During his tenure he became popular with sections of the left and with his members, who saw him as honest, hard-working and genuinely concerned with their welfare. In 1973, he was instrumental in organising the miners' strike that brought down Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

's Government in March 1974.

In the 1981 election for NUM President, Scargill secured around 70% of the vote. One of the main planks of his platform was to give more power to union conferences than to executive meetings, on the grounds that the former was more democratic. This had great implications for regional relations in the NUM; the executive was described as dominated by "Gormley's rotten boroughs", since every region - even quite small ones - had one delegate, and the larger regions had only a few more (Scotland and South Wales had two delegates each, Yorkshire had three).

Scargill was a very vocal opponent of Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

's Conservative government, and determined to use the union to oppose its policies, just as he had done with the Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

 government. He frequently appeared on television attacking the government and eventually led the union into the 1984–1985 miners' strike. This saw a split in the union (see Union of Democratic Mineworkers
Union of Democratic Mineworkers
The Union of Democratic Mineworkers is a British trade union not recognised by the TUC or the Labour party for coal miners, which is based in Nottinghamshire, England...

).

In May 1985, two striking South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

 miners were sentenced to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 after being found guilty of the murder of taxi driver David Wilkie
Killing of David Wilkie
David Wilkie was killed during the miners' strike in the United Kingdom, when two striking miners dropped a concrete block from a footbridge onto his taxi whilst driving a strike breaking miner to his workplace. The attack caused a widespread revulsion at the extent of violence in the dispute...

, killed six months earlier when a concrete post was dropped on his car while driving a non-striking miner to work. Lawyer John Prosser QC, representing defendant Russell Shankland, claimed that Shankland and co-defendant Dean Hancock were victims in a "nation at war", and criticised Arthur Scargill as being a general at war who "stood outside the law" and left his defendant "outside the law".

Scargill, along with Labour MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 Tony Benn
Tony Benn
Anthony Neil Wedgwood "Tony" Benn, PC is a British Labour Party politician and a former MP and Cabinet Minister.His successful campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963...

, was actively involved in the campaign to free Shankland and Hancock from prison. The first round of their victory was achieved in October 1985, when their life sentences for murder were reduced to eight years for manslaughter on appeal. They were finally released from prison in November 1989.

After the miners' strike, he was elected to lifetime Presidency of the NUM by an overwhelming national majority, in a very controversial election where some of the alternative candidates claimed that they were given very little time to prepare.

The media characterised the strike as "Scargill's strike" and most people believed that he had been looking for an excuse for a strike since becoming union president. This portrayal may not be wholly accurate, as the strike began when miners walked out in Yorkshire rather than when Scargill called for action. Scargill's decision to not hold a ballot of members was seen as an erosion of democracy within the union, but the role of ballots in decision-making had been made very unclear after previous leader, Joe Gormley
Joe Gormley
Joseph Gormley, Baron Gormley, OBE was President of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1971 to 1982, and a Labour peer....

, had ignored two ballots over wage reforms, and his decisions had been upheld after appeals to court were made.

On the appointment of Ian MacGregor
Ian MacGregor
Sir Ian Kinloch MacGregor, KBE was a Scottish-American metallurgist and industrialist, most famous in the UK for his controversial tenure at British Steel and his conduct during the 1984-1985 miner's strike while managing the National Coal Board.-Early life:Born in Kinlochleven, Scotland, his...

 as head of the NCB
National Coal Board
The National Coal Board was the statutory corporation created to run the nationalised coal mining industry in the United Kingdom. Set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946, it took over the mines on "vesting day", 1 January 1947...

 in 1983, Scargill stated, "The policies of this government are clear - to destroy the coal industry and the NUM". During the strike itself, Scargill continued to claim that the government had a long-term strategy to destroy the industry by closing unprofitable pits, and that it listed pits it wanted to close each year. This was denied by the government.
He stepped down from leadership of the NUM at the end of July 2002, to become the Honorary President. He was succeeded by Ian Lavery
Ian Lavery
Ian Lavery is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Wansbeck since the 2010 general election. He was previously the President of the National Union of Mineworkers.-Early life:...

.

On 25 August 2010, it was reported that Scargill had been told that he no longer qualified for membership of the National Union of Mineworkers. Scargill denies this and is pursuing legal action using solicitor Mark Stephens
Mark Stephens (solicitor)
Mark Howard Stephens CBE is a British solicitor specialising in media law, intellectual property rights and human rights with the firm Finers Stephens Innocent...

.

Socialist Labour Party


Scargill founded the Socialist Labour Party
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 on 13 January 1996, although the party was launched officially on 4 May 1996, after the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 abandoned the original wording of Clause IV
Clause IV
Clause IV historically refers to part of the 1918 text of the British Labour Party constitution which set out the aims and values of the party. Before its revision in 1995, its application was the subject of considerable dispute.-Text:...

 - the nationalisation of key industries and utilities - in its constitution.

His breakaway party has had little success in the polls. He has contested two parliamentary elections. In the 1997 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1997
The United Kingdom general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997, more than five years after the previous election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party ended its 18 years in opposition under the leadership of Tony Blair, and won the general...

, he ran against Alan Howarth, a defector from the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 to Labour, who had been given the safe seat of Newport East
Newport East (UK Parliament constituency)
Newport East is a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament using the first-past-the-post voting system.-Boundaries:...

 to contest. In the 2001 general election
United Kingdom general election, 2001
The United Kingdom general election, 2001 was held on Thursday 7 June 2001 to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. It was dubbed "the quiet landslide" by the media, as the Labour Party was re-elected with another landslide result and only suffered a net loss of 6 seats...

, he ran against Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson
Peter Benjamin Mandelson, Baron Mandelson, PC is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Hartlepool from 1992 to 2004, served in a number of Cabinet positions under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and was a European Commissioner...

 in Hartlepool
Hartlepool (UK Parliament constituency)
Hartlepool is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first-past-the-post system of election.- Boundaries :...

. He lost on both occasions, winning just 2.4% of the vote in the Hartlepool election. In May 2009, he was the number one candidate for the Socialist Labour Party for one of London's seats in the European Parliament.

Scargill has become more politically outspoken since stepping down from the NUM presidency, and has gone on record as a supporter of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, saying that the "ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin" explain the "real world". Scargill had long criticised Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

's Solidarity trade union movement for its attacks upon the communist system in Poland, which Scargill saw as deformed but reformable.

Television


Scargill was portrayed by Peter Richardson in the 1988 comedy film The Strike
The Strike
The Strike is one of the short comedy films – written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens, and directed by Richardson – which made up the long-running Channel 4 television series The Comic Strip Presents......

. In Citizen Smith
Citizen Smith
Citizen Smith is a British television sitcom. The show was written by John Sullivan, who later wrote Only Fools and Horses. The pilot was transmitted on 12 April 1977 in the Comedy Special series of one-off plays, and the series proper ran from 3 November 1977 to 31 December 1980.Citizen Smith...

he was to have been in the cabinet had Wolfie Smith taken power.

Music


Scargill is referred to in the 1984 song "Too Hot", from the album Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth may refer to:*Word of mouth, a method of communication*Word of Mouth, a local Blues/Rock band based in Hamburg, New York*Word of Mouth ,A TV show hosted by Sandy Daza and Teacher Patty in the Philippines...

 by The Kinks
The Kinks
The Kinks were an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in 1964. Categorised in the United States as a British Invasion band, The Kinks are recognised as one of the most important and influential rock acts of the era. Their music was influenced by a...

: "Arthur's on the warpath/ Here he goes again!"

Elections


UK Parliament elections
Date of election Constituency Party Votes %
1997
United Kingdom general election, 1997
The United Kingdom general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997, more than five years after the previous election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party ended its 18 years in opposition under the leadership of Tony Blair, and won the general...

 
Newport East
Newport East (UK Parliament constituency)
Newport East is a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament using the first-past-the-post voting system.-Boundaries:...

 
SLP
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 
1,952 5.2
2001
United Kingdom general election, 2001
The United Kingdom general election, 2001 was held on Thursday 7 June 2001 to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. It was dubbed "the quiet landslide" by the media, as the Labour Party was re-elected with another landslide result and only suffered a net loss of 6 seats...

 
Hartlepool
Hartlepool (UK Parliament constituency)
Hartlepool is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first-past-the-post system of election.- Boundaries :...

 
SLP
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 
912 2.4


London Assembly elections (Entire London city)
Date of election Party Votes % Results Notes
2000
London Assembly election, 2000
The first elections for members of the London Assembly were held on 4 May 2000, alongside the first mayoral election.The assembly elections used the Mixed member proportional representation, a form of Additional member system, with 14 directly elected constituencies and 11 London-wide top-up...

 
SLP
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 
17,401 1.0 Not elected Multi-members party list


Welsh Assembly elections
Year Region Party Votes % Result
2003  South Wales East  SLP  3,695 2.2 Not elected


European Parliament elections
Year Region Party Votes % Result Notes
1999  London
London (European Parliament constituency)
London is a constituency of the European Parliament. It currently elects 8 MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.- Boundaries :The constituency corresponds to Greater London, in the south east of the United Kingdom....

 
SLP
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 
19,632 1.7 Not-elected Multi-member constituency; party list
2009
European Parliament election, 2009 (United Kingdom)
The European Parliament election was the United Kingdom's component of the 2009 European Parliament election, the voting for which was held on Thursday 4 June 2009, coinciding with the 2009 local elections in England. Most of the results of the election were announced on Sunday 7 June, after...

 
London
London (European Parliament constituency)
London is a constituency of the European Parliament. It currently elects 8 MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.- Boundaries :The constituency corresponds to Greater London, in the south east of the United Kingdom....

 
SLP
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
The Socialist Labour Party is a far left socialist political party in the United Kingdom. The party is led by former trade union leader Arthur Scargill, who established it in 1996 as a breakaway from the Labour Party...

 
15,306 0.9 Not-elected Multi-member constituency; party list

External links