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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
Scargill retires as miners leader
Arthur Scargill
Mr Scargill was a rousing orator
Arthur Scargill retires as president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Thursday after more than 20 years in the job.

The left-winger will retain the title of honorary president and will receive 1,000 per month for the next nine years for acting as a consultant to the union.


He has seen off Mrs Thatcher and John Major and deserves tremendous credit for what he has tried to achieve

Ian Lavery
NUM chairman
The decision to pay Mr Scargill the money has reportedly left some miners complaining that they had not been properly consulted.

The prominence of Mr Scargill has faded as the coal industry suffered closure after closure.

Open in new window : Arthur Scargill
In pictures: Arthur Scargill's legacy

It was his claims of a coal board hitlist of collieries to be closed that fuelled the 1984 miners strike, when he went head-to-head with the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Mr Scargill ultimately had to call the strike off, but his predictions over the future of the coal industry were later proved to have been accurate.

Tony Benn
Mr Benn was a vocal supporter of the miners' cause
Former Labour MP Tony Benn paid tribute to Mr Scargill whom he said was the "most vilified" man he had ever met.

"When you look back on it Arthur will be seen as a man of principle who stuck by his members," he told BBC TV's Breakfast.

"The man was vilified and all he did was to defend the miners, the mining communities and so on."

The quiet end to Mr Scargill's career is in stark contrast to the prominence he held as the leader of the UK's biggest union.

Quiet exit

As he packs up his desk on his last day he does so with the knowledge that just a few thousand people remain employed in the coal industry.

Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson easily saw off Mr Scargill's challenge
The union claims to have 10,000 members still.

There will be no farewell party to mark Mr Scargill's departure.

When the union's executive met earlier this month they voted their thanks to Mr Scargill and presented him with two presents - one was believed to be a wrapped photo.

Ian Lavery - a 39-year-old miner from the North East who is taking on the new role of NUM chairman - said Mr Scargill deserved "tremendous credit".

"He is a remarkable man and has been a remarkable trade union leader," he said.

"Anyone else who has been through the mill as he has would not have survived.

"He has seen off Mrs Thatcher and John Major and deserves tremendous credit for what he has tried to achieve for miners over the past 50 years."

Unlike Mr Scargill, Mr Lavery is a member of the Labour Party who is prepared to meet government ministers and pit owners to discuss the industry's future.

He is the chairman of the Wansbeck district council's cabinet and his aims in his new job are to sustain the existing coal industry and get compensation payments speeded up.

Investment failure?

"We need a commitment from the government about the size of the coal industry, which is not a lame duck industry by any means.

"We produce the cheapest coal in Europe, yet we are allowing private companies to close mines because they are not prepared to invest."

Mr Scargill created his own political party - Socialist Labour - in 1996 but it has failed to make any electoral in-roads.

He ran against former cabinet minister Peter Mandelson in the 2001 election but failed to unseat the New Labour moderniser.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"Thatcher declared victory when more than half the miners returned to work"
Former Liverpool City Councillor Derek Hatton
"He had great principles and he made predictions that came true"
See also:

28 Nov 01 | England
30 Apr 01 | Politics
02 Feb 01 | Politics
16 Sep 98 | Politics

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