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Kinnock: I was too scared of Scargill to aid striking miners

Former Labour leader excuses his inaction

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has claimed that a fear of being scapegoated by Arthur Scargill if miners lost their heroic 1984-85 strike was behind his startling inaction during the walkout.

Mr Kinnock gives the excuse in the final episode of a documentary series about the miners’ strike set to be shown on Welsh channel S4C this evening.

Looking back at the famous strike, he insists he was “absolutely helpless” to stop Thatcher’s war on miners and the coalfield communities.

He tells former Plaid Cymru MP and presenter Adam Price he was: “So helpless that I couldn’t convey my helplessness.

“But all the time, it was churning within me because of what was happening in the coalfields and the mining communities.”

Mr Kinnock, who led Labour between 1983 and 1992, was chastised during and after the strike for rarely showing his support by attending picket lines or rallies.

His response had surprised some people who knew him best as MP for the Welsh coalfield constituency of Islwyn.

Miners’ son Mr Price remembered in the film that the miners and their supporters “didn’t understand” his hands-off position.

Mr Price presses him on whether he could have done more in an interview for Welsh-language documentary Streic y Glowyr (The Miner’s Strike).

“One of the factors that guided me from the early days was the determination not to do anything that would be presented by Scargill as a reason for the ultimate defeat of the miners,” said Mr Kinnock.

“I wanted to absolutely guarantee that … Scargill couldn’t turn round and say ‘if only the Labour leader hadn’t done this or had done that we would have won’.”

Mr Kinnock also repeats his spurious claim that the NUM’s failure to call a national strike ballot led to the strike being lost and “provided Margaret Thatcher with a period of domination.”

Giving his verdict on Mr Kinnock’s version of events, Mr Price says he “sacrificed the miners on the altar of winning the next election.”

Mr Price tries and fails to secure and interview with Mr Scargill — despite turning up on his doorstep.

“It’s such a pity seeing such an eloquent man so quiet,” he said.


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