The early picket at Bilston Glen was the most militant so far but there was no attempt to form a push. Instead everyone seemed content to throw stones and bottles at the police lines to get revenge for yesterday. News came through that a coachload of Durham miners had been arrested in Tranent for allegedly harassing a scab and everyone seemed to go mental. Lads began tearing down the fence outside the pit yard which the NCB had spent thousands having strengthened. Huge tyres were rolled over from a nearby garage and then set on fire, and within minutes thick black smoke was belching out from the flames and two trees had also caught alight. Missiles kept raining down onto the police lines.
A fire engine roared up, siren howling, but we formed a line across the road and Keith Smoult asked the firemen not to cross our ‘official picket line’. They agreed and turned their engine around and drove off to massive cheers from the pickets and looks of disgust from the pigs. The stoning continued until bus loads of pigs began to arrive and we beat a tactical retreat.
Back on our coach we were told we were off to Dalkeith police station to protest about the arrest of our lads in Tranenet. As soon as we arrived we piled off the coach to join the large crowd gathering at the top of the bank that ran up to the station. No sooner had we got there when we were scattered by pigs coming straight for us with truncheons drawn. It was a mad stampede for safety with the pigs tripping anyone who got too close to them. I managed to reach our coach and jumped on, gasping for breath. About a dozen lads had got there before me and they lined the windows watching the chaotic scenes outside. I could see a group our lads hemmed in by the pigs so I ran a few yards and shouted to let them know where we were. A pig yelled at me to,’Get back on the fuckin’ bus or you’re nicked’. He pushed me forward and I had no choice. He told the driver to leave immediately, even though most of our lads were missing. Fortunately none of them was arrested and they managed to get back in time for the afternoon picket.
It was a very subdued picket, with the highpoint being the Tranent Lodge Banner being marched right up in front of the police as an act of defiance. Unfortunately that won’t stop the scabs. Only mass pickets will.
We all went for a final drink in the Miners Welfare and there was a strong rumour going around that the Scottish officials have signed a deal with the pigs to reduce picketing. More resentment has been caused by a Scottish picket being overheard saying this morning, ‘Let the Durham lads go in front. They’re getting paid for it’.Yeah, 170 Durham men arrested at Bilston Glen, that’s what we got paid!’ Let’s hope the rumours are untrue, and let’s hope if they are, the Scots lads can organise the pickets over the heads of their weak officials., otherwise it will all have been for nothing.
At about eleven we were told the final picket will be at 2.30am and it’s all top secret. Most of the lads are too pissed to notice.