RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: I don’t recall Arthur Scargill meeting a pro-Putin warlord

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My greatest good friend Ramsay Smith, who went on to edit the Scottish Daily Mail, likes to inform a story concerning the first time he clapped eyes on me.

I was outdoors the Old Bell pub in Fleet Street, entertaining passers-by with my celebrated impersonation of Arthur Scargill doing his model of Adam Faith’s smash hit What Do You Want (If You Don’t Want money)?

OK, so that you needed to be there. It was the 80s. Drink had been taken. And though I was no Mike Yarwood, everybody recognised my Barmy Arthur schtick.

He was a pantomime villain, the person who had simply led the once-proud National Union of Mineworkers to crushing defeat after a crippling year-long strike.

Crippling, that’s, for miners and their households, not the nation at massive. While total communities had been destroyed by the strike, Scargill himself prospered.

His members could not afford to pay the hire or put meals on the desk, however Arthur was shacked up in a flat in London’s upscale Barbican advanced, which he subsequently purchased for half its actual price below Margaret Thatcher’s ‘right-to-buy’ scheme for council tenants and was just lately valued at £2million-plus.

That was along with his hilltop bungalow in Barnsley, the place his late father as soon as chased me off the premises with a rolled-up copy of the small-circulation Communist each day paper, the Morning Star.

As Eric Hammond, chief of the Right-wing electricians’ union, later noticed: ‘Scargill went into the strike with a large union and a small home and got here out with a large home and a small union.’

Ostensibly, the dispute was in protest at plans to shut a few loss-making coal mines. In actuality, it was a disgraceful tried putsch to make use of industrial muscle to convey down a democratically elected Conservative authorities by pressure.

Union barons like Scargill had been celebrities again then, though like music corridor turns their greatest days had been behind them. The Last Picture Show was when the truculent print unions tried and failed to forestall Rupert Murdoch dragging the newspaper trade into the twentieth century by shifting his titles to a new-technology plant at Wapping.

As a younger regional official in Yorkshire, Scargill had been a driving force behind the miners’ strikes within the early-to-mid Nineteen Seventies which introduced down Edward Heath’s Tory authorities.

British commerce unionist Arthur Scargill arrested after becoming a member of Grunwick dispute protest, London, UK, twenty third June 1977. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When he grew to become the NUM’s president, he was decided to reprise the trick by toppling Mrs Thatcher’s administration. This time, although, Thatcher and her Cabinet enforcer Norman Tebbit — in full Chingford Skinhead mode — had been prepared for him.

They’d stockpiled coal upfront and despatched within the Old Bill to crack the heads of Scargill’s thuggish flying pickets.

The NUM was smashed, the inevitable closure of uneconomic pits accelerated, and Scargill was uncovered as a flailing dinosaur, doomed to extinction.

Barmy Arthur’s humiliation was full when an enterprising photographer snapped him opening his briefcase to disclose a can of Brut hairspray, utilized in ozone-bursting portions to maintain his trademark Bobby Charlton-style comb-over in place.

And that was just about the final anybody heard of him, till this week when he turned up on a picket line in Wakefield in assist of putting railway employees.

So when I noticed the newest pictures of Arthur, now 84, nonetheless carrying his signature Battle of Orgreave baseball cap, my earlier life as a younger industrial correspondent flashed earlier than me.

I thought these Tra-La days had been over, for good. My second act, as a gentleman journalist, started after I’d spent a month on Neil Kinnock’s common election bus in 1987. When Kinnochio went right down to Maggie Thatcher’s third landslide, I concluded that Labour and the unions had been completed and I’d have to seek out one thing else to jot down about.

The miners and printers had been hammered, the TUC was a spent pressure. No one appeared to have a lot urge for food for the category wrestle any extra. It was enjoyable whereas it lasted. The 1978/9 Winter of Discontent was my ticket to Fleet Street. I’d been engaged on the Birmingham Evening Mail, chronicling the implosion of the British automotive trade due to each day disruption brought on by ludicrous wildcat strikes impressed by the likes of Derek ‘Red Robbo’ Robinson, convener on the large British Leyland plant at Longbridge.

For occasion, nightshift employees would take sleeping baggage with them and mattress down on the again seats of half-built vehicles sitting idle on the manufacturing line. Any try by administration to really make them do the job they had been paid for was greeted by an instantaneous strike.

Once, I appear to recall, Longbridge — which employed getting on for 30,000 individuals — was dropped at a full standstill by a dispute over the removing of a kettle from the store stewards’ workplace.

When I landed in Fleet Street, I found that the ‘Old Spanish customs’ I’d realized about in Brum had been widespread. These had been arcane working practices which dated again to Caxton, and gave the print unions a stranglehold on newspaper manufacturing.

If the Imperial Wizards of NATSOPA and SOGAT (aka Notsober and Sodit) objected to one thing written by a journalist, they merely stopped the presses and hundreds of thousands of copies had been misplaced.

Most printers had second (or moderately, first) jobs driving cabs or working candy retailers. They insisted on being paid in money, signing wage slips with fictitious names together with Mickey Mouse and the jockey Sir Gordon Richards.

Wapping put a cease to all that. Ironically, Murdoch’s high-tech print works was constructed on the location of deserted London docks, one other labour-intensive trade well-known for its Spanish customs which collapsed with the introduction of recent containerisation.

The march of progress ultimately spelled the top of rule by store stewards, epitomised by the ‘Everybody Out’ working joke within the traditional comedy collection The Rag Trade. Everywhere, that’s, besides within the public sector the place the established order survives unscathed.

Former President of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1982 to 2002 Arthur Scargill joins the picket line outside Wakefield Railway Station

Former President of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1982 to 2002 Arthur Scargill joins the picket line outdoors Wakefield Railway Station

Frankly, I was astonished — though I should not have been shocked — by the Old Spanish practices nonetheless current on the railways, revealed in excruciating element by my colleagues on the Mail over the previous few days.

Walking allowances, trebles all spherical for engaged on the Sabbath. Some of those are relics that ought to have gone the best way of Stephenson’s Rocket.

Guy Adams reported on a weird rule that enables employees to restart a scheduled break from scratch in the event that they occur to stumble upon a supervisor who bids them a well mannered ‘good day’.

Overmanning is so rife that it takes as many as 9 individuals to alter a mild socket. How many? Sounds like a type of whiskery outdated jokes about what number of feminists it takes to alter a lightbulb.

In Scotland, drivers had to learn of shift adjustments in letters delivered by taxi. I’m reminded of Kinnock lamenting that in Liverpool, below Degsy Hatton’s Militant Tendency, a Lay-ber council was sending out redundancy notices through a native cab agency.

I spent the early Nineteen Eighties overlaying countless disputes on the railways for London’s Evening Standard. One of the daftest and longest-running was the cussed refusal of the practice drivers’ union ASLEF to permit British Rail to take away stokers from electrical trains.

Having stopped paying shut consideration to the commercial relations panorama over 35 years in the past, it by no means occurred to me that this type of insanity was nonetheless occurring.

In the age of ubiquitous cell, hand-held computer systems extra highly effective than the spaceships which first took males to the moon, it seems the railway unions are nonetheless resisting efforts to make their members reply the phone.

You could not make it up.

To be trustworthy, I’d by no means heard of Mick Lynch till just lately. He clearly fancies himself as this 12 months’s reply to Arthur Scargill and is decided to make use of his management of the railway union RMT to convey the sort of industrial chaos to Britain not seen for the reason that common strike of 1926.

Lynch and his ludicrous pro-Putin acolytes appear to suppose they’ll succeed the place Scargill failed and convey down an elected Conservative authorities. Say what you want about Barmy Arthur. He could have taken Moscow Gold throughout the miners’ strike and hosted Russian delegates at TUC conferences, however I don’t keep in mind him flying to Ukraine or posing in a fur hat with an assault rifle, like a few of Lynch’s lieutenants.

I cannot think about former rail union leaders like Sid Weighell and Jimmy Knapp sucking as much as the Russians, both, particularly in the midst of an unlawful struggle.

RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley poses in a Soviet-style soldier's hat with an assault rifle. Hedley belongs to a powerful far-Left cabal at the RMT who have spent much of the past decade supporting Putin's murderous adventures in Ukraine.

RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley poses in a Soviet-style soldier’s hat with an assault rifle. Hedley belongs to a highly effective far-Left cabal on the RMT who’ve spent a lot of the previous decade supporting Putin’s murderous adventures in Ukraine.

Lynch and his ludicrous pro-Putin acolytes seem to think they can succeed where Scargill failed and bring down an elected Conservative government. Pictured: Richard Littlejohn in his younger years

Lynch and his ludicrous pro-Putin acolytes appear to suppose they’ll succeed the place Scargill failed and convey down an elected Conservative authorities. Pictured: Richard Littlejohn in his youthful years

The new breed of RMT leaders would not give a rattling, like Scargill, about the truth that the gravest hurt can be precipitated to the hard-pressed working individuals they declare to champion. Neither does Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, both, judging by the truth that a couple of dozen Labour MPs joined Scargill on the rail employees’ picket strains this week.

Keir Starmer’s mealy-mouthed response is pathetic. He must be focusing his wrath on the unions, not the Government. After all, he grew up in Guildford, Surrey, commuter belt heartland. Mind you, Guildford’s most likely Working From Home heartland nowadays.

It’s instructive that every one the unions lining up for the so-called Summer of Discontent are within the monopolist public sector, which has grown fats and lazy over the previous couple of years regardless of the financial havoc brought on by Covid. If the civil service does go on strike this summer season, will anybody really discover?

The railways, too, have had billions thrown at them by a authorities in full drunken sailor mode. If Boris is in any method liable for our present issues, it is as a result of he has spent his political profession stoking the present tradition of self-entitlement which is ruining the nation.

The ‘money for nothing and your chips free of charge’ furlough scheme went on far too lengthy.

As for the railway unions, even when he was London mayor Boris caved in far too simply to the unions’ pay calls for moderately than endure mainline trains and the Underground being dropped at a standstill. That craven angle has to cease, now.

There’s just one approach to defeat this type of industrial blackmail. It must be confronted down, unflinchingly.

I’ve been urging ministers for greater than a 12 months to situation an ultimatum to public sector employees nonetheless wedded to WFH. Get again to your desks otherwise you’re sacked.

The similar ought to apply to the rail unions, who’re cynically staggering their strikes to trigger most disruption. If it takes six months to coach a new workforce, or import one, it will likely be a value price paying. We’ve already been by means of two years of lockdown.

In 2022, the nation can’t afford to be held to ransom by a bunch of Left-wing gangsters hell-bent on toppling a authorities with a close to 80-seat majority.

Lynch considers himself a Marxist. In which case, he can be conversant in his hero’s well-known quote: historical past repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

This so-called Summer of Discontent comprises each components, tragedy and farce. It will not finish effectively for anybody, particularly Lynch and his Commie co-conspirators.

The rail unions might imagine they’re invincible. So did the printers, the dockers, the automotive employees and the miners.

Just ask Arthur Scargill.

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