Miners’ strike: interesting version of democracy

Miners at meeting with Arthur Scargill at Langley Mill working mens club
Miners at meeting with Arthur Scargill at Langley Mill working mens club

In rely to Eric Eaton’s column, Chad 9th April 2014, the NUM Special Delegates Conference took place on 19th April 1984 and not in June 1984.

Eric Eaton’s version of “representative democracy” in the NUM is interesting, why therefore did the NUM National Executive Members (NEC) for the Northumberland, North Derbyshire, Notts, Cumberland, South Derbyshire, Midlands, Lancashire and North Wales Areas back a strike in which their rank and file membership had voted against strike action in Area pit head ballots during March 1984?

More interestingly why did some of the Delegates to the Special Delegates Conference on 19th April 1984 also vote for a strike when the NUM rank and file members in those areas had democratically voted not to strike in area pit head ballots?

An interesting version of this “representative democracy” was given by NEC member Roy Ottey (NUM Power Group) in his 1985 book “The Strike – An insiders view” p. 124.

In June 1984 when asking for the strike in the Power Group to be made official (under Rule 41) the Executive Committee of the Power Group voted 4 – 2 in favour. Out of the four in favour one was due to pick up his redundancy within 4 weeks, another employed in ancillary work had worked continuously throughout the strike and 75% of the Power Group membership was at work at the time. However the NUM at national level still made the strike in the Power Group official – some representative democracy!

Additionally NUM policy from the Annual Conference of July 1983 was to have a national ballot on the issue of pit closures and job losses at a “time deemed to be most appropriate”. Was that time March 1984?

David Amos

Via email

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