Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1985 Mar 3 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks on the end of the miners’ strike

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Remarks
Venue: Outside No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: MT left Chequers for No.10 at 1930.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 756
Themes: Privatized & state industries, Strikes & other union action, Law & order, 1984-85 coal strike

Question

Mrs. Thatcher, what is your reaction to the miners' strike and the news they are going back on Tuesday?

Prime Minister

Well just overwhelming relief that it is over and we can get on with building up the coal industry again and that the families that have gone through an awful lot of suffering can draw wages and salaries again and rebuild their savings.

Question

But Mr. Scargill has actually said that the dispute will go on; guerrilla tactics will be used; the overtime ban continues. Has anything been resolved by this long and bitter dispute?

Prime Minister

I believe the overwhelming majority of miners want to get back to work; want to pay off their debts; want to build up their savings once again; support their families; and rebuild their industry. I think and I very much hope that in the pits there will be reconciliation and that the [end p1] divisions will be healed, and I am sure the managers will be on the look out to do everything they can to ensure that is so.

Question

But Mrs. Thatcher, do you see it in any way as someone winning or losing at the end of this very long strike?

Prime Minister

If anyone has won, it has been the miners who stayed at work, the dockers who stayed at work, the power workers who stayed at work, the lorry drivers who stayed at work, the railwaymen who stayed at work, the managers who stayed at work. In other words, all of those people who kept the wheels of Britain turning and who, in spite of a strike, actually produced a record output in Britain last year. It is the whole working people of Britain that have kept Britain going.

Question

How has this affected the state of your party? You are now 2%; behind the Labour Party.

Prime Minister

Look! Let us not talk about that. Yes, we had to stand out against intimidation and violence. You never give in to that. You can never give in to blackmail. You can [end p2] never give in to a strike which makes impossible demands, that says no matter how much the pits may lose the tax-payer has got to cough up. You cannot give in to that, and I think this is a victory for common sense and for those who have stayed at work.

Question

But it has been a strike that has generated immense bitterness, particularly in small mining communities. How can that be healed?

Prime Minister

Those who go back and work in the pits and the collieries and the managers, they will do their level best to heal it. Yes, I hope we will never see again in Britain some of the terrible scenes we witnessed. I did not think we could ever see them here, but we have, and now I hope it is over.

Question

Do you blame anyone for the length of the strike, Mrs. Thatcher? What are your personal feelings about it, Mrs. Thatcher?

Prime Minister

My personal feelings are of overwhelming relief. I want a prosperous coal industry, obviously, but the privations that some of those families have been through—and they would have been back earlier had it not been kept going by intimidation and I am very glad now that they can go back. [end p3]

Question

Mrs. Thatcher, what is your own view of the way that Mr. Scargill has conducted this strike?

Prime Minister

Look! I do not comment on these things. We had to make certain that violence and intimidation and impossible demands could not win. There would have been neither freedom not order in Britain if we had given in to violence. There would have been no hope for any prosperous industry if people had gone on strike, really, for bigger and bigger subsidies from the tax-payers, because in the end it is the tax-payers who pay these subsidies. So that is over. Just let us be very thankful for all the people who stayed at work in all the industries and it is to them that we owe record output last year and do not forget, even with a miners' strike, we had record output, record investment and a record standard of living. So now they are back at work, we are really set to go.

Question

Is there to be an amnesty for those miners who were sacked?

Prime Minister

Those miners who have in fact beaten up others or who have intimidated families or have done immense damage to property, they must take the consequences of their own actions, and it would not be right if there were an amnesty for those who really have committed terrible crimes—not right at all.