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Wilson closed more coal mines than Thatcher

By Harry Phibbs
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That faction on the Left that has been busy over the past 48 hours denouncing Margaret Thatcher has been so blinded by prejudice that facts have been disregarded. In the Daily Telegraph this monring Allister Heath points out that manufacturing output rose during her time in office. Does anyone really believe that manufacturing would have done better without the trade union reforms and with British Leyland and the British Steel Corporation remaining under state ownership?

Then there is the charge that it was Margaret Thatcher who "destroyed" the coal mines and the mining communities. How many times have the BBC broadcast that claim without refutation? Yet the facts show that far more coal mines closed under the Labour Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

These are the figures for the sharply declining number of coal mines open each year under those Labour Governments.

1964           545
1965   ..      504
1966   ..      442
1967   ..      406
1968   ..      330
1969   ..      304
1974   ..      250
1975   ..      241
1976  ..      239
1977   ..      231
1978  ..      223
1979  ..      219  

These are the figures for the Thatcher years:

1979  ..      219
1980   ..      213
1981  ..      200
1982   ..      191
1983   ..      170
1984  ..      169
1985  ..      133
1986   ..      110
1987   ..      94
1988   ..      86
1989   ..      73
1990   ..      65 

The Lord Palmerston blog says:

It was the ever-erudite @allanholloway who brought to my attention a few weeks back that more coal mines closed under Harold Wilson’s governments than under Margaret Thatcher’s, and I owe him an apology for not having credited him sooner, given the number of retweets I got for passing that on earlier.  Based on these figures from the government about 290 mines closed under Wilson in all his time in office, and about 160 under Thatcher.  Because the figures are based on year end totals of pits operating, it’s not possible to be precise, but the relative scale of those numbers is clear.  So why isn’t Wilson execrated by the Left for his part in the decline of coal mining?

That is a fair question. Do the Left seriously claim that Harold Wilson was accepting economic realities while Margaret Thatcher was motivated by sheer spite?