“The legacy of Thatcher’s war against the mining communities is shocking levels of child poverty, unemployment and low wages alongside rising crime and drug problems.”Ian Lavery MP
It is far from rare that the words and actions of this government cause me a great deal of anger, frustration, and despair. But last week, as the Prime Minister jokingly suggested that the closure of the mines under the Thatcher administration had given the UK a head start in the battle against climate change, my blood began to boil a few degrees hotter than usual.
This is partly down to the fact that this is a scandalous rewriting of history in every sense. The closing of the mines of course had absolutely nothing to do with tackling climate change. It was instead a brutal attack on the trade union movement that decimated countless communities up and down the country for whom the majority have never recovered.
The legacy of Thatcher’s war against the mining communities is shocking levels of child poverty, unemployment and low wages alongside rising crime and drug problems. All the while the Prime Minister is having a good laugh about these problems facing our communities instead of taking seriously the climate crisis staring him in the face, a crisis worsened by the increased reliance of shipping coal across the world.
But what really caused me such a great deal of outrage due to the fact I was once again reminded of the nature of the man running our country – a political charlatan without a shred of integrity or decency in his body.
Johnson has managed to cultivate an image of an everyman railing against the establishment, prone to gaffes and buffoonery, as perhaps we all are, but ultimately with the best interests of the public in mind.
But ravenous for high office and relentless in his pursuit of power and prestige, his political beliefs will mould and mutate to fit the mood of any crowd he is addressing. When he fails to read the room and pulls off a clanger as he did last week it is once again shrugged off as another ‘Typical Boris’ slip of the tongue that is forgotten about as soon as the next one comes along.
Soon after these comments came a wave of calls for the Prime Minister to apologise for what was a ‘crass’ and ‘insensitive’ joke at the expense of the struggling communities in former mining regions.
But I do not want the Prime Minister to apologies for his ‘joke’ for the simple fact that I know that he is not sorry about it. No one in his position who truly cared about these communities would have made those comments whether he meant it as a joke or not, and I will no longer simply accept an apology and for it to be brushed under the carpet.
We must recognise and treat Boris Johnson for what he is, just another spawn of Tory opportunism cut from the same cloth as those who railed against our communities as the ‘enemy within’ – and nothing has changed since.
- Ian Lavery MP is one of 10 Socialist Campaign Group MPs who writes a monthly, regular column for Labour Outlook.