Boris Johnson has shown 'utter contempt' for colliery communities over Margaret Thatcher comments says North East's mining leader

Comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson paying “thanks” to Margaret Thatcher for closing down collieries have been slammed by the North East’s mining leader.

By Fiona Thompson
Friday, 6th August 2021, 2:12 pm

He made the comments towards the end of a two-day trip in Scotland which took him to a giant wind farm off the coast after he was pressed on whether he would set a deadline for ending fossil fuel extraction.

The Prime Minister hailed existing action to move to greener forms of power, stating when he was a child 70% to 80% of all electricity had been coal-generated – with this falling to 40% by the time he became London mayor.

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Boris Johnson has been slammed for his comments about pit closures, background the former Wearmouth colliery in Sunderland.

“Since then, it’s gone right down to 1%, or sometimes less,” he stated.

Mr Johnson said: “Look at what we’ve done already. We’ve transitioned away from coal in my lifetime.

“Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”

His comments have led him to come under fire from Labour politicians, as well as the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

Durham Miners' Association Secretary Alan Mardghum speaking at the 135th Durham Miners Gala in 2019.

Alan Mardghum, is Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, which represents the welfare of former pit workers and support former colliery communities.

The former miner, who worked at Wearmouth Colliery for 16 years from 1977, said: “Johnson has again shown utter contempt for the people of former mining communities.

"The wilful annihilation of the coal industry caused social and economic devastation in our communities that is still felt to this day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson onboard the Esvagt Alba during a visit to the Moray Offshore Windfarm East, off the Aberdeenshire coast on Thursday August 5. Photo by PA.

"It was an ideological assault.

“The Thatcher government increased coal imports to more than 40 million tonnes a year, often mined by child labour in the developing world.

“It is no joke.

“But despite great adversity, our communities survive.

"This is testament to the strength, resilience, and spirit of our people.

"They are proud of our heritage and culture, and our values of decency, respect and honesty."

Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris said: "Pushing Thatcher as some sort of eco-warrior for closing coal mines is a rewriting of history.

"The truth is she did not express any regrets or have a care about the mining communities or the life chances of our people following the wholesale closure of the industry.

"Any serious commentator can pretty much chart the hardship and deprivation of our mining communities with the loss of the mining and industry and loss of secure employment.

"Closing coal mines had nothing to do with saving the environment, it was an assault on a way of life, on trade unions and on communities that did not fit with Thatcher's free market brand of conservatism that worshipped money, speculation, the City of London and greed over community and society."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Boris Johnson’s shameful praising of Margaret Thatcher’s closure of the coal mines, brushing off the devastating impact on those communities with a laugh, shows just how out of touch he is with working people.”

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