Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

112. Tuesday October 30th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Gary and me attended a meeting in Gateshead organised by the NALGO Support Group. It was a very constructive meeting, though we had some tricky questions to answer about Scargill and his alleged visit to Libya, as revealed by the Sunday Times. All we could think of to reply was the fact that because the Tories are trying to starve us back to work then we must have the right to accept money from wherever we can het it from. We also said that the Tories themselves have bought oil and other good from Libya so they were hypocrites. Anyway, we have been promised support and that’s the important thing.

Privately I think Scargill has made a stupid mistake in giving the Tories and their media even more ammunition in their campaign to totally discredit him. He should’ve sent someone who couldn’t be linked to the NUM. That’s what the Tories do.

The situation between Kath and me is growing worse. We can’t even talk to each other and she is still very bitter about losing her job. She blames me for it because of being active and getting arrested. Things can’t go on like this because the strike gives me enough hassle without her adding to it.


111. Friday October 26th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm

We had a very busy day in the kitchen, serving over 100 bowls of broth, which is a vast improvement on Monday’s poor start. Gary takes the credit for this. He’s a dab hand in the kitchen and seems to really enjoy the cooking. He won’t let anyone near ‘his broth’, except to give it an occasional stir. This is fine by me because I much prefer fund raising.

We received yet another cheque from Manchester for £49 which is a welcome addition to our funds. We also received a visit from a couple of journalists from the local evening rag, not renowned for its support of the strike, or miners in general. I wasn’t too surprised because one of them is a comrade, which just goes to show the SWP attracts all sections of the workforce. They gave us a cheque for £16 which was gratefully received. It’s even more important because we can add the National Union of Journalists to our list of supporters and this will give a boost to people who are beginning to feel everyone is against them.

110. Thursday October 25th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

The bastards have stolen NUM funds because we refused to pay their unjust fine of £200,000 for contempt! Contempt is all I have for them! Surely now we’ll get the support we were promised at Brighton from the rest of the unions? If they let the Tories get away with this, then they’re allowing the same fate for themselves in the future, and that will be disasterous for the whole of the working class. The NACOD’s leadership must be really thick if they can’t see the significance of the timing of this attack, straight after their sell out. The sooner they realise that they’ve won no concessions at all the sooner we can begin the long overdue attack on Thatcher’s plan to decimate the mining industry and the NUM as a fighting union.

I spoke to the Newcastle University Miners Support Group about what we are attempting to do with the kitchen and the financial support we need. They’ve promised to do all they can, which is all we can ask for.

More people are starting to use the kitchen, which is very encouraging. The word is starting to spread about what we are trying to do, especially today when people came to the kitchen to collect their £2 foos tokens and saw at first hand what is going on. A lot of them expressed approval about the notice on the wall showing donations, which is gratifying because some of the Womens Support Group said it was a bad idea. We also make all our account books available on the table so people can see exactly how the money is being spent. People are beginning to ask why the WSG can’t do the same, which has really pissed them off. They’ve accused us of causing problems but they should realise there are a lot of vicious rumours circulating about them which does nothing for morale.

109. Wednesday October 24th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Oh gosh, what a surprise, NACOD’s have called off their threatened strike. Traitorous shitbags!

A coachload of our men were prevented from attending a ‘No Sell Out’ demonstration in Sheffield by the pigs. They were ordered to turn around and return to Durham. Oh gosh, what a surprise, who would have thought it?

As a result the soup kitchen was quiet today, unlike yesterday when we had a meeting with the Wives Support Group. They have changed their minds and are now totally against the kitchen, even though Gary and me are prepared to run it ourselves. They also took offence when we suggested they should be more open about their finances to prevent criticism. We tried to be constructive but got nowhere and they left. This doesn’t bode well for the future if we can’t work together. One positive thing is that Marion and Alison want to help because they are bored with just giving out food tokens. Gary and me went with them to the Trustees Saving Bank on Boldon Lane and we’ve opened an account in the name of, ‘Westoe Miners Soup Kitchen’, casting originality to the wind. I am Secretary, Gary is the Chairman, Marion is Treasurer, and Alison is Assistant Secretary. We have £230 to start off with which should keep us going for a few weeks.

Today Marion and Alison brought along Florrie, who must be in her sixties, and is the most fantastic worker I’ve ever met. She looks frail but works harder than anyone else and puts Gary and me to shame! She told me a great story  about the 1972 atrike. Her husband and two sons, Norman and John, worked at Westoe, and when she was out shopping one day in the local shop a woman made a nasty comment about miners. Florrie told her to watch her mouth and warned her not to repeat her remarks or she would stick her in the freezer! Foolishly the woman repeated her insults and Florrie carried out her threat and upended the woman straight into the chest freezer. The woman ran home to fetch her husband, and when he arrived Florrie threatened to do the same to him if he didn’t shut up! They stormed out of the shop. I mention this story to show the wonderful spirit and pride of a fantastic woman, staunch in her support of the miners. She is an inspiration to us all and she typifies the fighting spirit of the mining communities.

108.Monday October 22nd, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

The kitchen got off to a great start as far as customers were concerned with about 80 pickets turning up. Unfortunately we had a bit of a disaster with the soup because all the lentils and peas stuck to the bottom of the boiler and burned the soup. We had to pour the lot down the drain. Fortunately we had plenty of bread and eggs so the lads didn’t starve. An important lesson learnt, you must stir the soup regularly!

A group of students from Newcastle Poly came down and gave us a cheque for £116 which they had collected over the weekend. This gave us a tremendous boost and we put a huge sheet of paper on the wall so that we can write down all the donations we receive and the pickets can clearly see who is supporting us. It will also put all finances into the open so we can hopefully avoid being accused of benefitting personally.

Some berk called Michael Eaton has been appointed as NCB spokesman to take over public announcements from Ian ‘The Elephant Man’ MacGregor who has become an embarrassment to his paymasters.

107. Sunday October 21st, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm

There was a union meeting this morning, called at short notice. I only found out because Gary called me early. We should have been prepared for a move like this because it was obvious they weren’t going to let us build on the anger of the men at the last meeting. The Chairman proudly announced that two committee men have volunteered to attend picket lines, and he also announced that men banned from picket lines would be paid £2 a day if they help the Women’s Support Group. Unfortunately there weren’t enough men present to mount an attack on the Chairman for his behaviour at the last meeting so he got away with it, this time. we should have campaigned more amongst the pickets. Still, we didn’t so thats that.

Gary and me spent all afternoon and most of this evening cleaning out the Welfare, especially the kitchen, which is now spotless and ready to go, as is the ‘Baby Burco’ boiler which has been thoroughly scrubbed. We peeled the potatoes and carrots ready for tomorrow and left them in water overnight, as we did with the lentils and peas. Gary is a real fusspot and has us scrubbing every inch of the walls and floor, but the end result was worth all the sweat. The Welfare has never looked so clean for months. All we need now is for a lot of people to use it.

106. Saturday October 20th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Scargill addressed a big support rally in Sunderland this morning and survived an ‘assassination’ attempt from a crazy old woman armed with a tin of cat food. After interrogation by the police it has been disclosed that she has no connection to the strike whatsoever and her only motive was a dislike of dear old Arthur, and a liking for seeing herself on telly.

The rally itself was the usual affair, quite well attended but not by the people who needed to be there, the thousands sitting on their arses at home. If we can’t get the message across to those men that passivity doesn’t win strikes, then they are all potential scabs, and that could mean defeat. Scargill and cohorts should be speaking every day in every mining community instead of wasting their time in pointless negotiations.

Received yet another cheque for £60 from Manchester comrades. Fantastic!

105. Wednesday October 17th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I travelled up to Newcastle today with two women from the Westoe Miners Wives Support Group, Alison and Marion. We’d been invited to attend a meeting at Newcastle Poly because the Tory students were going to try and reverse the decision to support the miners made at the start of the strike. During the course of the meeting, when Alison was nervously speaking and asking for support for the children, one of the Tories stood up and shouted, ‘If you want money why don’t you send your husband back to work?. I just saw him disappear under a load of students keen to show him the error of his ways! He was lucky because if I’d had a chance to get at him I would have put up a much stronger argument! Anyway, the good news is the Tories were well defeated so the support stays. We got £17 from a collection. We also paid a visit to Newcastle University and were given another £125. Alison and Marion were well chuffed.

The kitchen will now open next Monday at Harton Miners Welfare because we also received two cheques from comrades in Manchester SWP for £110. Their support throughout the strike has been magnificent and they’ve played a key role in establishing the credibility of the SWP at Westoe.

NACOD’s have called a strike to start on the 25th after talks with the NCB broke down. If they really mean it why not call the strike for tomorrow? I think it’s so they can give the NCB time to buy them off. We’ll see.

104. Friday October 12th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2009 at 11:07 am

Someone, probably the IRA, blew up the Grand Hotel in Brighton today but they missed Thatcher! Tebbit is reportedly badly injured but the rest of them got away. No one has blamed violent pickets for it yet but no doubt they’ll get round to it.

Most of the pickets I’ve spoken to are as jubilant as if we’ve won the strike. Of course, blowing up the bastards isn’t the answer but at least it shows its not just us miners who hate Thatcher and everything she stands for. They brought it upon themselves.

I spoke at Newcastle University and got a great reception. More importantly, they’ve promised to help us raise funds for the soup kitchen.

103. Wednesday October 10th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm

We had a union meeting this morning which showed the extent of the members disatisfaction with the Lodge officials. We had to elect a member to sit on the Durham Area Executive Committee, a post traditionally filled by one of the senior officials. Accordingly both the Chairman, John Chapman, and the Treasurer, Bill Jerry, were nominated by the members of the committee. A rank and file member, Ed Malcolm, was nominated from the floor, and even though he is a soft left careerist, I voted for him along with the majority in the hall. The result was absolutely brilliant; Chapman got 15 votes, Jerry 6, and Ed got 54 votes! The lads were elated by this success and we all enjoyed the looks of utter shock on the stage. It was excellent, and a picket stood up to explain to the platform exactly why they’d been given this vote of no confidence. The fact that they never appear on picket lines, Tommy Wilson excepted, was given as the main reason, with the picket saying that you can’t lead from a comfortable office! Man after man stood up to attack them, ending with a motion proposing that every picket of Westoe men must be attended by two committee men, and their places in the office filled by men banned from picketing. The Chairman, John Chapman, got up and made a personal attack on me that was full of vitriol, probably because I was the only man he knew who was banned from all picket lines, and because he thought, wrongly, that I was behind the attacks. He refused to accept the motion, saying he would have to ask his fellow committee men if they wanted to go on picket lines!! At this all hell broke loose and without hesitation the useless bastard closed the meeting, and they all walked off the stage in a huff. We all complained loudly and bitterly, shouting for them to return, but they didn’t. The lads were furious but also jubilant at getting Ed elected.

The whole meeting was a perfect example of bureaucracy at work but at least the men now know, again, where the real power lies. Brilliant, and we must build on it at the next meeting and censure the Chairman for his undemocratic conduct.

The NUM have been fined £200,000 for refusing to comply with the Tory courts, and Scargill has been fined £1,000 for contempt.He has said that neither fine will be paid. Good for him!