Failure to back strike weakened union movement, says miners' leader

Dave Hopper

Dave Hopper

First published in News
Last updated

LABOUR Party leaders and union chiefs who did not support the miners’ strike in the 1980s helped weaken the movement, a miners’ leader says.

Thousands of people will flock to Durham City on Saturday (July 12) for the 130th Durham Miners’ Gala, which marks 30 years since the start of the bitter dispute.

In his programme notes, Dave Hopper, general secretary of Gala organisers the Durham Miners’Association, says declassified documents reveal that the Thatcher Government was determined “to butcher the coalfields and smash the National Union of Mineworkers.”

He praises politicians and unions who supported the strike.

But he continues:“At the same time, these revelations should shame those trade unions and Labour Party leaders who did not support our strike.

“Those who refused to come to our aid bear a huge responsibility, not just for our defeat, but for weakening the whole trade union movement.

“They will be remembered in the former coalfield of Britain just as we remember those so-called leaders who betrayed the 1926 General Strike.

“The refusal of New Labour, during 13 years of government, to repeal the anti-trade union legislation, which was used to defeat us, only compounds their shame.”

Mr Hopper goes on to say that the “lack of a radical alternative" is turning hundreds of thousands of people off politics and that he believes Labour would regain support if it campaigned “with passion and commitment”to reverse privatisation.

Five new banners will be on display at the Gala - Fenhall Drift Mine, Lanchester; St Hilda Colliery, South Shields; New Brancepeth Colliery, County Durham; a UNITE Community Membership Banner and West Rainton Primary School’s Adventure Pit banner.

The parade through the city to the racecourse will start at about 8.30am.

There will be a funfair, various stalls and entertainment, including folk singer Benny Graham, on the field throughout the day.

Speeches will be made between 12.15pm and 2.30pm.

The speakers are Bolsover Labour MP Dennis Skinner, Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, Prison Officers Association general secretary Steve Gillan, NUT general secretary Christine Blower, and Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF.

Mr Hopper says Labour leader Ed Miliband was “sounded out” about attending the Gala, but nothing had been heard from him.

The blessing of banners service in Durham Cathedral starts at 3pm.

Delegations from Germany, Ukraine and Ireland are expected to attend.

Details, including events marking the strike anniversary, are at www.durhamminers.org

Comments (7)

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3:14pm Thu 10 Jul 14

DarloXman says...

We. in the North East need to look forwards, not backwards!

The mining industry is gone and is never coming back - everything Mr Hopper describes happened a long time ago and has been discussed at infinitum - there is nothing more to gain discussing it further!
We. in the North East need to look forwards, not backwards! The mining industry is gone and is never coming back - everything Mr Hopper describes happened a long time ago and has been discussed at infinitum - there is nothing more to gain discussing it further! DarloXman
  • Score: 29

4:26pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Not even 'red Ed' sees the Gala as being of any importance.
Perhaps in another 30 years Mr Hopper will realise that 'no one cares' because everyone else has had to get on with their lives whereas Mr Hopper seems not only to be stuck in the past but to be going backwards. What next, instead of reliving the soup kitchens of the 80s strike - a 'sing along' for 1926 or perhaps a 'dress as a Pharoah evening' to commemorate the slaves striking in ancient Egypt.
Mr Hopper - time to wake up. Your strike failed. Your members and movement destroyed its own communities and the rest of us are fed up with having to pay for exminers and their offspring who believe that they have a god given right to be supported throughout their lives because rather than retrain and apply themselves they would rather just wallow on a sofa (paid for by someone else) and watch Jeremy Kyle.

No doubt I will be grumbled at - and reminded that the miners worked 'down pit' in the war and the 'hardships' that they suffered going home everynight, being paid for the work, and not being shot at.
Not even 'red Ed' sees the Gala as being of any importance. Perhaps in another 30 years Mr Hopper will realise that 'no one cares' because everyone else has had to get on with their lives whereas Mr Hopper seems not only to be stuck in the past but to be going backwards. What next, instead of reliving the soup kitchens of the 80s strike - a 'sing along' for 1926 or perhaps a 'dress as a Pharoah evening' to commemorate the slaves striking in ancient Egypt. Mr Hopper - time to wake up. Your strike failed. Your members and movement destroyed its own communities and the rest of us are fed up with having to pay for exminers and their offspring who believe that they have a god given right to be supported throughout their lives because rather than retrain and apply themselves they would rather just wallow on a sofa (paid for by someone else) and watch Jeremy Kyle. No doubt I will be grumbled at - and reminded that the miners worked 'down pit' in the war and the 'hardships' that they suffered going home everynight, being paid for the work, and not being shot at. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 23

4:33pm Thu 10 Jul 14

durhamchap says...

As the Durham coal mines are long gone what exactly does Mr Hopper do and though none of my business I wonder what wage he is on ?
As the Durham coal mines are long gone what exactly does Mr Hopper do and though none of my business I wonder what wage he is on ? durhamchap
  • Score: 24

5:33pm Thu 10 Jul 14

behonest says...

“The refusal of New Labour, during 13 years of government, to repeal the anti-trade union legislation, which was used to defeat us, only compounds their shame.”

Mr Hopper does have a point here. You can't put a fag paper between the main political parties nowadays, which is why so many are turning to UKIP.
“The refusal of New Labour, during 13 years of government, to repeal the anti-trade union legislation, which was used to defeat us, only compounds their shame.” Mr Hopper does have a point here. You can't put a fag paper between the main political parties nowadays, which is why so many are turning to UKIP. behonest
  • Score: -2

5:38pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Daza says...

Hopper needs to realise why they lost the strike...

Failure to have a Ballot, and all of Nottingham still working..

The strike beginning in March 1984 at the beginning of Spring and into one of the hottest Summers for years, with massive Coal stocks

This combined with a determined Tory Govt. and they were knackered from the start

At least Joe Gormley had the common sense to have a ballot and have the strike in Winter.

Led by the wrong people Mr. Hopper! No good blaming other people when you had yourselves to blame!!!

Wheres Scargill at now then Mr. Hopper?
Hopper needs to realise why they lost the strike... Failure to have a Ballot, and all of Nottingham still working.. The strike beginning in March 1984 at the beginning of Spring and into one of the hottest Summers for years, with massive Coal stocks This combined with a determined Tory Govt. and they were knackered from the start At least Joe Gormley had the common sense to have a ballot and have the strike in Winter. Led by the wrong people Mr. Hopper! No good blaming other people when you had yourselves to blame!!! Wheres Scargill at now then Mr. Hopper? Daza
  • Score: 17

6:31pm Thu 10 Jul 14

MSG says...

Harols Wilsons Labour party closed more pits than Thatchers Tory party. Labour made more miners unemployed !
Harols Wilsons Labour party closed more pits than Thatchers Tory party. Labour made more miners unemployed ! MSG
  • Score: 20

6:37pm Thu 10 Jul 14

gavshaw62 says...

Daza the last I read about Scargill he was squatting in a million pound house in London owned by the miners union. I wonder why the members never question why the union has these million pound houses in the capital, surely they would be better sold and the money given to good causes like the funding of future durham galas. as mr hopper stated in previous editions in the north east papers that the gala might have to be scrapped due to lack of funding.
Daza the last I read about Scargill he was squatting in a million pound house in London owned by the miners union. I wonder why the members never question why the union has these million pound houses in the capital, surely they would be better sold and the money given to good causes like the funding of future durham galas. as mr hopper stated in previous editions in the north east papers that the gala might have to be scrapped due to lack of funding. gavshaw62
  • Score: 14

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