Charles Dickens himself could not have named it better. Grimethorpe. The name conjures up visions of smoke blackened industry. Actually, its name is ancient and originates from “Grim’s Torp”, a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Viking names, meaning a torp or hamlet owned by a Viking named Grimey. Be that as it may, the village of Grimethorpe had its heart torn out when the pit closed in 1993.
Grimethorpe and indeed, the country’s vast coal reserves were considered collateral damage and an affordable loss in Margaret Thatcher’s war against the Trades Union and the state of British industrial relations that had caused this country to cease to be competitive on the world stage.
Thatcher’s diagnosis about over powering unions shackling British industry was correct. However her solution – free market capitalism – was applied indiscriminately and the policy of privatisation went far beyond the national interest.
As a result, our major utilities and key industries are now owned by foreign firms.Thus the United Kingdom is in the unenviable position of having it’s government in the hands of a foreign power – the European Union – and it’s industry owned and run by foreign firms. Well, that’s the Tory Party for you!!!!!!!!!!!
The domination of the Trades Union of the 1960s and the 1970s had caused British industry to become sclerotic and uncompetitive. Cars produced by the British Motor Corporation led by Lord Stokes did not sell very well in the all important export markets because they were rubbish. They were poorly put together. When you have a belligerent workforce that is not committed to the enterprise that employs them, failure is the one outcome that can be guaranteed. It does not matter what or how the organisation is formed, shoddy workers produce shoddy goods.
What was clear all along was that the tackling of this major problem – which had to be tackled – was going to lead to confrontation with the Trades Union. So called “anti-trade union” legislation was absolutely necessary. The country could not have prospered without it. That was a battle that had to be fought.
However, it was clear that in seeking to destroy the power of the NUM – a political project – Margaret Thatcher was prepared to close down the British coal industry. Let us be clear: of the two protagonists, Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill, my fellow Yorkshireman, was right. Arthur Scargill wanted to retain the British pits and to use the coal produced to generate electricity in large coal fired power stations.
The biggest power station was Drax. Each generating set has a generating capacity of 660 MW, and with six generating sets, the station has a total capacity of 3,960 MW. This may seem massive but 660MW is not the largest. Indeed there are sets with an output double this elsewhere in the world. In these cases, bigger is better as bigger is more efficient. Had Arthur Scargill’s wishes had been followed, this country would own and control its major energy source – coal – and also – through the nationalised CEGB – own and control its power source – large efficient coal fired power stations – without none of the ridiculous artificial markets of the post privatisation shambles and of course, none of the ridiculous wind turbines.