Thatcher planned to shift coal using troops during miners’ strike

Miners March - Mowbray Park 14 April 1984
Miners March - Mowbray Park 14 April 1984
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MINERS’ leaders have said they are not surprised at the revelation that Margaret Thatcher planned to draft in troops to transport coal around the country during the pit strike.

The Conservative Prime Minister had planned to counter possible action by the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1980s.

Documents released from the National Archives under the 30-year rule detail how secret plans were made after the Government realised it was unprepared to deal with prolonged conflict.

A Whitehall working group, codenamed MISC 57, formed plans including buying land next to power stations and began the process of converting them to oil.

Regarding the use of troops, papers stated: “A major risk might be that power station workers would refuse to handle coal brought in by servicemen in this way.” Ex-Easington lodge secretary Alan Cummings was a faceworker at Easington Colliery from 1963 to 1993, where up to five million tonnes of coal was stockpiled during the 1984/85 strike.

He was not shocked to hear of Mrs Thatcher’s plans. “There’s nothing that would surprise me about what she was capable of,” he said.

“It was bad enough the police were brought in, but to bring in the Army, when many of them would have come from these communities, that’s something else.”

He said many miners believed servicemen were brought in to boost police numbers during clashes on the pickets, as some did not wear collar numbers.