Miners’ Rally – Edinburgh

The leadership of the NUM launched a nationwide tour of key areas on 6 Nov­ember in Edinburgh. Against a back­drop of stepped-up hostility from the Labour and TU leadership, the first in the series of rallies was marked by jeers from the 2000+ miners present. These were hurled when NUM leader and Com­munist Party leader, Mick McGahey began reading out Labour apologies for non-attendance. The shout 'Kinnock's a Tory' made McGahey move quickly to say that Tories didn't send apologies to NUM rallies. This was one of the first of many outbursts from the audience which McGahey sought to smooth away. After Labour MP Gavin Strang had spo­ken, miners in the hall challenged 'Where's Kinnock?'.

Donald Dewar of the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet could hardly get started above the hisses and boos vented by miners angry at Labour's scabbing on their strike. Euro-communist McGahey quietened the hall down again so that Dewar could tell miners that 'we all condemn violence'. Before this we were treated to the sick­ening charity of John Henry (Assistant General Secretary of the Scottish TUC, to give him his full title). He told the min­ers that whilst they (the STUC) 'couldn't ensure turkey and all the trimmings for Christmas' they'd make sure that 'every­one of yous will sit down to a chicken or something else.' I reckon that the food off their (the STUC) Christmas tables would go a long way to meeting more than just the Christmas needs of many miners' families. In the circumstances of Kinnock's point-blank scabbing on attendance at the rallies (although he can make time to fly to India in Mrs Thatcher's jet), Arthur Scargill's remark that his engagement diary was not block-booked, i.e. unlike Kinnock's, was very mild. Yet this received resounding applause.

Gary Clapton

FRFI 44 Nov-Dec 1984

 

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