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Saturday March 10th,1984.
This morning I attended a packed out meeting in Sunderland which was addressed by NUM President, Arthur Scargill. Predictably he started by making lots of uncomplimentary comments about Ian McGregor, the governments ‘hatchet man’, and warned that it is now or never as far as fighting the threat of pit closures. He urged us to come out now in support of men in Yorkshire and Scotland who are already out to fight the plans to close 5 pits immediately, with another 65 to follow if we don’t stand up. He made it sound like Custers Last Stand but I still agree with his views. Rhetoric is his forte, and because I’ve heard him speak quite a bit these last two years, he does tend to sound repetitive.
One point of criticism I would make is that he attacked the ‘leeches of the capitalist media!’ If he hates them so much why doesn’t he ban them from meetings? I suspect this is because his ego enjoys the attention but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s the best union leader around. He’s right when he says that pits are being deliberately starved of investment and fobbed off with second hand machinery. It’s happening at my pit, Westoe Colliery, South Shields, where £3m was lost last year despite producing over a million tons of coal.
Anyway, he ended with, ‘Get off your knees and fight like men to save your jobs and communities’! He got a tremendous ovation from the packed hall, and if that is anything to go by then we’ll vote for strike at our lodge meeting tomorrow morning at 11am. I will, of course, vote for strike. How could I do anything else with a surname like mine!