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Secret Meetings

Arthur Marwick

20 May 1982
Battered Cherub 
by Joe Gormley.
Hamish Hamilton, 216 pp., £7.95, April 1982, 0 241 10754 7
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... It was not till some years after the Second World War that ‘pitbrew girls’ ceased to do the heavy and dirty work of separating out dross from coal; many of them became canteen workers instead. JoeGormley was, and is, firmly against the idea of any ‘modern young ladies’ trying to secure coal-face jobs. He was outraged by the women carrying coal in baskets on their heads whom he encountered ...

Ex-King Coal

Arthur Marwick

31 March 1988
The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. IV, 1913-1946: The Political Economy of Decline 
by Barry Supple.
Oxford, 733 pp., £50, December 1987, 9780198282945
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... dangerously temporary power: almost all coal now went to the electricity generating stations, so that cutting off supplies could drastically disrupt the nation’s industrial and domestic life. JoeGormley accepted planned closures and redundancies, exacting in return wage rises which put miners back at the top of the earnings league. Edward Heath was unwise enough to get into confrontation with the ...
10 March 1994
Scargill: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
HarperCollins, 296 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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... in other union cultures. The brightest star in the left firmament was the Fife miner, Lawrence Daly, who rose to the post of NUM General Secretary under the presidency of Scargill’s predecessor, JoeGormley. Daly was in many ways the opposite of Scargill: intellectually curious, extraordinarily well-read, ostensibly – and certainly in his later years, when he was destroying himself with drink ...
22 July 1993
Edward Heath: A Biography 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 876 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 224 02482 5
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... but competitive bargaining was the rationale of British trade-unionism. Nowhere was this seen more starkly than in the coal industry. What the miners wanted was a deal which made them a special case. JoeGormley even had a bright idea about how it could be justified. It is a mark of Heath’s wish to avoid confrontation that he (and, of course, Armstrong) had a secret meeting with the miners ...

Downhill from Here

Ian Jack: The 1970s

27 August 2009
When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies 
by Andy Beckett.
Faber, 576 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 571 22136 3
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... preferred goujons of sole. The right depicted the arrangement as trade unionists ‘holding the country to ransom’, while some on the left attacked it as a sell-out. In the view of the NUM leader, JoeGormley: ‘Our role in society is to look after our members, not run the country.’ It seems inconceivable now that British governments would kowtow to, or at least try to persuade and seduce ...

Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison

4 June 1987
Labour People, Leaders and Lieutenants: Hardie to Kinnock 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 370 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 19 822929 1
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J. Ramsay MacDonald 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 276 pp., £19.50, June 1987, 0 7190 2168 5
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Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical 
by Patricia Romero.
Yale, 334 pp., £17.50, March 1987, 0 300 03691 4
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Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst 
by Barbara Castle.
Penguin, 159 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008761 3
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... a lively interest in current politics; he shows no coy academic inhibition about linking up the two, for he knows how amply each can enrich the other. Take, for instance, his excellent chapter on ‘JoeGormley, Arthur Scargill and the Miners’. If all historians during the miners’ strike of 1984-5 had shown such balance, knowledge of context and willingness to face unpalatable truths, their ...


Alan Ryan

6 November 1986
The Enemies Within: The Story of the Miners’ Strike 1984-5 
by Ian MacGregor and Rodney Tyler.
Collins, 384 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 00 217706 4
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A Balance of Power 
by Jim Prior.
Hamish Hamilton, 278 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780241119570
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... for an unwinnable strike. It is true that Mrs Thatcher had been enraged by having to give way to the NUM in February 1981, when Sir Derek Ezra’s – reluctant – plans for pit closures provoked JoeGormley into threatening a strike ballot which he could plainly have won. The Government thereafter took care to build up stocks of essential chemicals as well as coal at power stations, did its sums ...

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