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Working Class a Special Case
Says Arthur Scargill

(January 1974)

From Militant, 18 January 1974.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Yorkshire area miners’ President Arthur Scargill, speaking at the annual dinner of the Bingley local Labour Party on Friday, 11 January, denounced the idea that the miners were a special case.

The idea had been put forward that the miners were a special case who should be allowed to go through Phase Three while all other workers should be confined to the Government’s limits.

After detailing the tremendous increase in retail prices, particularly of food and the one pound increase in rents over the past year, Brother Scargill stated that he considered the working class as a whole as a special case, and that in order to defend living standards it was necessary for all groups of workers to defeat Phase Three.

The average wage paid to miners, as proved by the holiday pay-out figures, was £28 per week, the NUM figures for present pay are as follows:

Surface workers



Underground/day wage


Coal Face


The Coal Board’s offer was in fact 10½% and not 14% or 16% as various Tory Ministers and MPs had claimed. The offer consisted of £45 million, i.e. £35 million as a straight 7% and £15 million for the 3½% claimed for shift working and anti-social hours.

Brother Scargill dealt with the question of democracy and the law, “this dinner, the NUM or Bingley Labour Party, would not exist if our forefathers had not been prepared to break the law”.

He went on to point out that the only real democracy in Britain, was the rights won by the struggle of the Labour movement and that it was continually necessary to fight to defend and extend that democracy. He pointed out that apart from the fines imposed on the AUEW and the TGWU, the Industrial Relations Act was a dead letter, because of the refusal of the majority of unions to accept the law.

He went on to say that if all Labour-controlled authorities had supported the position of the Clay Cross Councillors, then the Housing Finance Act would be a dead letter.

Brother Scargill said that the current crisis was deliberately inspired by the “waxwork” in Number 10 and the Tory leaders. The power stations had 13 million tons of coal in 1972 prior to the miners’ strike, at the beginning of three-day working they had 12½ million tons, enough to last until March. The power stations were burning around 1 million tons per week and receiving, despite the overtime ban, 800,000 tons per week from the pit head.

At the moment the net loss of coal at power stations was only some 200,000 tons which meant that without some escalation by the miners, power station stocks would last until August.

Brother Scargill concluded by stating he was confident that, as in 1972, the miners would win and that as a consequence of the struggle a Labour Government would come to power. If that Government was committed to Socialist policies and a transformation of society, then the hardship and struggle of the miners and the working people as a whole would never again be necessary.

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Last updated: 3 December 2015