Letter: Strike vote was democracy in action

Miners strike 1984. Miners at meeting with Arhtur Scargill at Langley Mill working mens club
Miners strike 1984. Miners at meeting with Arhtur Scargill at Langley Mill working mens club

I think David Amos displays a breathtaking lack of shame in his response to Eric Eaton’s recent guest column.

The Special Delegates’ Conference of 19th April 1984, which clearly still irks Doctor Amos, returned a near 3-to-1 majority among the delegates not to hold a national ballot and, instead, prosecute the strike under Rule 41 making it a series of de facto area strikes.

Constitutionally, a national ballot was not required.

But that aside, the overwhelming majority – key word here; majority – voted not to have a national ballot.

That’s democracy.

It’s no good slagging it off just because it doesn’t produce the result you want.

Nottinghamshire’s strike-breakers chose to ignore the democratic will of their own national Conference and, instead, cited their own Area ballot as having greater authority.

Despite both the National and Area Rule books containing an explicit instruction which gave National decisions primacy when in conflict with an Area decision.

Apart from all that, Dr. Amos displays some incredible hypocrisy here, too.

Nottinghamshire miners were more than happy to ignore both a legitimate Conference decision and a national ballot on the question of Area incentive schemes.

In addition, despite NACODS voting entirely in accordance with their constitution and the law as it then stood, in a sacred national ballot, and producing a majority of 82.5% in favour of strike, the Notts Working Miners Committee, instructed Nottinghamshire working miners to cross NACODS picket lines! Where’s their respect for democracy in this instance?

To add to the hypocrisy, after the strike, the UDM’s certification as an independent trade union was delayed because the Certification Officer judged a proper ballot of the members had not been held!

Democracy? Please! Nothing of the sort.

The sad truth is that the majority of Nottinghamshire working miners were motivated by a commitment to pound notes; not democracy.

Add in the active involvement of the state and the security services, not to mention the Conservative Party, and the tale of Nottingham’s working miners is a sorry litany of cowardice, greed and hypocrisy.

The UDM’s history speaks for itself and speaks volumes of those who betrayed the NUM and founded, joined and led the UDM.

And history has proved this to be so.

I explore all these issues in depth in my book, ‘Look Back In Anger – the Miners’ Strike in Nottingham’ and recommend it to anyone interested in the truth about the dispute in Nottinghamshire, rather than establishment propaganda and scab apologia.

Harry Paterson

via email

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