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Thatcher had secret plan to use army at height of miners’ strike | Politics | The Guardian

Thatcher had secret plan to use army at height of miners’ strike

“Papers released to the National Archives reveal that in 1984 the prime minister made preparations to use troops to move coal to power stations.

Margaret Thatcher was secretly preparing to use troops and declare a state of emergency at the height of the miners’ strike – out of fear Britain was going to run out of food and grind to a halt, government papers released today reveal.

“The 1984 cabinet papers, released to the National Archives, show that Thatcher asked for contingency plans to be drawn up to use troops to move coal stocks, despite official government policy ruling out the use of service personnel. A plan involving the use of 4,500 service drivers and 1,650 tipper lorries was considered capable of moving 100 kilotonnes a day of coal to the power stations.

“A separate contingency plan, codenamed Operation Halberd, to use troops in the event of a dock strike, had also been drawn up.”

via Thatcher had secret plan to use army at height of miners’ strike | Politics | The Guardian.


In one sense, the “revelations” from the Cabinet Papers from 1984 tell us nothing new. We knew – and we know – that the Thatcher government was a parcel of rogues prepared to destroy the very structure of the bourgeois-democratic state that put it in power in the anti-social interests of its class hegemony. It’s what they do, and what their successors are doing at the behest of their controllers in the City today.

Nor is it surprising, though it is significant historically, that Thatcher was able to enrol the renegade Soviet leader, Gorbachev, in preventing solidarity funds from coming from the miners of the USSR to support their British brothers in struggle.

But the significance of the Cabinet paper revelations goes much further than the pious hand-wringing of the declaration of the Morning Star that “Scargill was right”: they portray a government totally divided against itself, scared witless, gazing into the abyss of a revolutionary situation where almost anything they did could only make things worse for them and their oppressive system.

Once again, the ungovernability of British capitalism had provided the possibility of revolutionary overthrow of its powers – the previous time had been the Profumo affair of two decades before (papers relating to which are still being kept secret. I wonder why?).

In 1984 as in 1963, the way lay open for a determined revolutionary force to seize the levers of power and change the course of history.

What was lacking, of course, was such a revolutionary force. The organisation historically charged with such a role, the Communist Party of Britain, had a right-wing revisionist leadership engaged in expelling its most militant members at a time when they should have been uniting the left in defence of the miners.

But then the CPGB, like all other legal organisations of the left, including the CPB today, was part of the bourgeois-democratic structure, as its Socialist Road for Britain makes abundantly clear.

This is not to say that engagement with bourgeois-democracy should be shunned in the interests of revolutionary purism. As Lenin pointed out as long ago as February 1906, revolutionary forces needed to pursue a twin-channel strategy: taking part in elections, however fraudulent they might be, while at the same time preparing for taking over state power.

The modern equivalent of such a double whammy would be for all the left to campaign for a Labour victory in 2015, while preparing for the inevitable betrayal of what Ken Loach has called the Spirit of ’45.

What the rose-tinted spectacles of Loach’s movie ignores was that that was precisely what happened in 1945, when Ernest Bevin sent British troops into Saigon to defeat the Viet Minh. Neither Loach, or any of those attempting divisively to build a new party under the misnamed slogan of Left Unity, seemed to have learned any lessons from history.

Are we ready to do any better?

KARL DALLAS, January 7, 2014


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