ABSTRACT

The National Coal Board emerged from the far end of the strike in apparently terrible shape. Its pits were often in ruins, its workforce surly and internally at war, its markets eaten by imports of coal, its management at top level at each other’s throats, its chairman and its political master openly feuding. The NUM is unlikely to recover - not because of the fissures which have opened up all through it during and since the strike; not because it lost so badly; not because of its leadership - though all of these were and are issues with which it, and the labour movement more widely, has had to deal. Even before the strike, the common experience of union officials was that their efforts to encourage militancy - leaving aside such protected areas as Labour-controlled town halls, Fleet Street printing rooms or ITV studios - very largely failed.