Birthday: January 11, 1938
Age: 83 Years, 83 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Born Country: England
Born in: Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England, UK
Famous as: Trade Union Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Anne Harper (m. 1961–2001)
father: Harold Scargill
mother: Alice Pickering
children: Margaret Scargill
education: The Elmhirst School (1953), University of Leeds
Who is Arthur Scargill?
Arthur Scargill is a British trade unionist who was the president of the National Union of Mineworkers. The union is known for leading the longest as well as the most violent miners` strike in the history of British history. The movement faced a huge confrontation from the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, and the union was eventually defeated. Early in his life, he had worked as a coal miner, for around two decades. He had joined the Young Communist League at the early age of seventeen, in his hometown Yorkshire. As a trade-unionist, he led his first unofficial strike in 1969, and also played an important role in organizing the strikes of 1972 and 1974. Though he was a member of the Labour Party, he left as he felt the party had abandoned the original wording of the Clause IV, which used to advocate the public democratic ownership of important industries as well as utilities. He founded the Socialist Labour Party in 1996. He contested two parliamentary elections but lost both the times.
Childhood & Early Life
Arthur Scargill was born on 11th January 1938, in Worsbrough Dale, in South Yorkshire, England, into a family of coal miners. He belonged to a poor family, who lived in a house with neither electricity nor plumbing. However, by the time he grew up, the family was able to move to a better and more comfortable home.
Scargill was the only child of his parents. His father`s name was Harold and his mother`s name was Alice. His father was also a loyal member of the Communist Party.
From an early age, Arthur used to read books such as ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’, where he learnt about starvation and injustice as well as courage as well as nobility of the working classes. He felt the need to fight for changes in the capitalist society, and vowed that he would work towards making the world more equitable.
He studied at the Worsbrough Dale School, till he was fifteen. He then started working as a coal miner. On his first day, he was horrified to see the working conditions. He understood the plight of the workers, and chose to stay and remain a self-appointed representative of the workers. He soon started demanding an improvement in the working conditions, and wrote letters to several agencies and newspapers.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Political Activities & Career
Arthur Scargill soon got a response from a representative of The Daily Worker, who persuaded him to join the Young Communist League of Britain. Scargill joined the organization in 1955, and within some months, he was able to become a member of the organization`s executive board.
In 1957, he attended the world youth festival held at Moscow. He was the representative of the Yorkshire miners. There, he met Russian leaders such as Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev. After his return to Britain, he joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Soon, he also made his first attempt to win political office in a local council election, though he was defeated. He stood as an independent communist, as he had never joined the Communist Party formally. He became a member of the Woolley NUM Branch Committee, in 1961. The following year, he also became a member of the Labour Party.
Though he continued his work as a miner, he also studied various subjects including economics, social history and industrial relations. He took a part-time course as well at the University of Leeds. In 1964, he was also elected representative to the Yorkshire area meetings.
He played a significant role in the unofficial strike of UK miners in 1969. It began in Yorkshire, and eventually spread to the rest of the country. He also became known in the 1972 strike, where he was the spokesman for the Yorkshire miners. He also had an important role in the `Battle of Saltley Gate’, that closed Birmingham`s Saltley coke depot.
The miners` strike of 1974 eventually brought down the Conservative government of Edward Heath. However, in 1979, the Conservatives were able to win again under Margaret Thatcher, and destroy the majority of the Labour Party. A lot of conflict followed between the government and Scargill`s union. This eventually led to the strike of 1984, when the government announced that they intend to close 20 coal mines.
The strike began on 12 March 1984, and became known for being one of the most violent events in British labour history. Hundreds of strikers were arrested, including Scargill and his wife. Some strikers also believed the strike was against the constitution and denounced Scargill. Several dispirited strikers decided to return to work after around a year, and the strike ended in a failure.
Scargill decided to turn his attention to politics. Along with Tony Benn, veteran left-wing MP from the Labour Party, he campaigned to free the two strikers Russell Shankland and Dean Hancock, who were convicted of killing a taxi driver named David Wilkie. Their life sentences were eventually reduced to eight years.
He founded the Socialist Labour Party in 1996, after he left the Labour Party. He felt that the Labour Party had betrayed the basic principles of the party`s constitution. He contested twice, in the 1997 general election, as well as the 2001 general election. He was defeated on both occasions.
Family & Personal Life
Arthur Scargill was married to Anne Scargill, who is herself the daughter of a miner. They had one daughter named Margaret. They divorced in 2001.
In 2014, it was reported that Scargill had become a recluse. He had also refused to speak to the media, after Margaret Thatcher`s death in 2013, though he was offered a sum of £16,000.