So after the news of Redcar, Kellingley Colliery has closed and with it the end of the deep mining of coal in this country. The news accounts create an impression of a gradual natural process of decline and one in which brave men who worked underground will now have to adapt to another way of life.
In the years since the miners’ strike was defeated, privatisation and market forces and not nature has been determined the shape of the industry. In 2001 for the first time we imported more coal than we produced, and it is these imports rather than any green agenda that has closed collieries like Kellingley and Thorseby. When they were strongly organised in a union and fighting against the closure of their industry these men were seen as “the enemy within”.
Now, in the curious way in which things work in this country, they are almost sanctified . . Sanctified but on the scrap heap, searching for work as call centres and the warehouses of companies like Sports Direct take over the “coal fields”.