Last week’s rejection of the funding bid for Thoresby Colliery has hammered the last nail into the coffin of the UK’s coal mining industry.
In my view, neither Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, or Mathew Hancock, Secretary of State for Energy, had the guts to bring it up where questions could be raised in the last debate before Parliament went into recess.
They instead issued a written statement saying that the aid was not good value for money to the British taxpayer.
Are the 700 men who will be made redundant at Thoresby not taxpayers?
Are the millions whose energy bills will go up not taxpayers?
In the first TV debate, Mr Cameron boasted that this Government has got people back into work. They have just resigned these miners to a life on the dole.
We will no longer have a secure indigenous coal supply. Yes, it may be cheaper to import at the moment due other countries’ subsidies—and the £1.7billion this Government has given to overseas fossil fuel projects—but do the Government believe the price for imported coal will remain cheap once we are totally reliant on imports?
It is a disgrace the way the coal miners in the UK have been treated.
In my opinion, if the government had acted honourably, instead of delaying the decision, the cost to enable our mines to stay open would have been 18 per cent of the aid now required.
All the industry is asking is for a fair deal, and a level playing field with the rest of the energy suppliers.
There should be a national energy policy incorporating a nationalised UK coal industry. It worked under a Labour Government after the Second World War when the country was bankrupt—along with the introduction of the National Health Service and the welfare state. I believe it can work now.
As general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, Nottingham Area, I give our support to Alan Meale for Mansfield’s MP, to Martin Lee in the mayoral election, and to all the local councillors standing for Labour.
It cares about the NHS. It cares about the job opportunities for our youngsters, apprenticeships, a living wage and the termination of zero hour contracts. It cares about affordable housing.
There is only one party that believes in trade unions and their right to protect the rights and living standards of members in our community, both working and retired.
That is the Labour Party and I sincerely hope that they can put a policy together to assist and invest in our national resource and the workers in our industry.