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Do You Agree With The View That The Prime Cause Of The Miners' Strike In 1984 Was The Conservative Government's Determination To Reduce Trade Union Power?

1444 words - 6 pages

Do you agree with the view that the prime cause of the miners' strike in 1984 was the Conservative government's determination to reduce trade union power? - (40 - pg. 142 M. Lynch)

On the 6th of March 1984, the National Coal Board announced that, in order to reduce government subsidies to the coal industry, twenty coal pits were to be closed. Six days later, Arthur Scargill, the leader of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) announced that the regional strikes that were already occurring across Yorkshire, were to be made nationwide. This exorbitant reaction was felt necessary, when taking into account that tens of thousands of jobs were to be lost. Whole communities thrived and ...view middle of the document...

The Conservative government wanted revenge against the unions. The government felt very bitter since their last confrontation with the unions, in the early 1970's, which resulted in the unions winning, and Heath being elected out of office. They wanted to make sure none of this would ever happen again. The Conservatives were humiliated. The is evident in Source 1, where it says that 'The government was determined that trade unions would never again have such influence'. Source 1 also supports source 3, that the government wanted to 'exorcise the myth' that the government relied on the support of the NUM. This supports the belief that the Conservatives acted harshly against the trade unions, to reduce their power. It also highlights Thatcher and McGregors personalities, as they were 'determined', which proves their will and might against the unions. It is worthy to note that this source is a primary source written by Tony Benn, a senior Labour MP during the conflict. This is why this source is mostly subjective, which makes us trust it less. That is because it is obvious that Tony Benn would want to defend the past actions of the unions, as Labour was a trade union party. However, we can still trust this source, as it gives us the other side of the conflict, such as the reason the government acted that way against the unions. The unions felt threatened. They saw this as a reason to go against the rights and conditions of the miners, and of what the union wanted. The government was determined in reducing trade union power, by closing mines, resulting in strikes.
The coal pits that were to be closed, were unproductive, and inefficient. The coal industry in Britain had suffered a major blow since the 1910's, which meant that coal productivity, nation-wide, was in decline. Major advances in technology increased costs of production, meanwhile the UK was producing a lot less. This was the argument for the closure of the uneconomic and costly pits. This is evident in source 2, where it says that the wish of the NUM, to keep uneconomic pits, 'was totally unreasonable'. The government felt that the position of the NUM, was ludicrous. The pits had to be closed and it was, what was the best and most needed action for Britain. This source was written by Margaret Thatcher herself, making it a primary source, the source is a little bit subjective. This is the case because Margaret Thatcher would have been trying to defend her every criticism, in order to make it seem that every action she took as Prime Minister, was necessary. Even still, this source is trustworthy since it is a fact that the UK coal output was falling by a quarter every decade, and costs were rising, albeit this source being not being completely trustworthy, since Thatcher was trying to defend herself. This is why, it is the case, that the miners had striked, not because the Conservative government was trying to reduce union power, but because it was trying to be economic.
The trade...

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