HANDS UP who remembers Arthur Scargill? Years ago, he was the president of the mighty National Union of Miners. At its height the NUM had nearly 200,000 members – today it has around 2,000.
Scargill gained national – even international – recognition when he led the year long miners strike. The 1984 – 85 strike was in support for the future of the mining industry and the communities dependent on it and against the policies of the then Tory Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
During this time it’s probably true to say that he was worshiped and admired by millions of ordinary working people. Equally, he was also feared by capitalists the world over.
However, it didn’t matter whether you loved or loathed Scargill. The one characteristic that stood out above all others was his belief in and passion for his members. Surely here was one trade union leader who would stay true to his working class roots and ideals until the day he died.
Or would he?
Although retired, Scargill is still an honorary president of the NUM. And under its rules, he’s entitled to concessionary fuel. However, he’s also claiming around £33,000 a year for the rent and running costs of a stunning three-bedroom apartment in London’s exclusive Barbican Centre. He also owns Treelands Cottage in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Justifying his ownership of two properties, he noted “there are many people who have two homes.”
Scargill is also leader of the Socialist Labour Party. It was launched in 1996, once Tony Blair had effectively turned Labour from the socialist party or yesteryear into the pro-capitalist NuLabour of today. Although the SLP has some excellent anti-globalist policies, it supports reverse discrimination and holds a completely unrealistic position on ‘Ireland’. Check out their web-site.
Sadly, Arthur Scargill seems to be the latest in a long line of ‘socialists’ and ‘socialist’ organisations that have moved away from their principles. For instance, as our article Will The UMF Cash Cow Be Axed? (11/06/2010) illustrates, establishment unions like Unite are positively swimming in money!
Solidarity is all for workers earning a good wage. However, some trade union leaders seem to command salaries and perks better suited to super-capitalists. Isn't it ironic that whilst they are earning several thousand a week representing the workers, many of their members just get by on the minimum wage?