Johnson might come to regret his joke about pit closures

Johnson might come to regret his joke about pit closures

How will it go down in the “Red Wall” seats?

If BoJo’s aim when he made his joke about pit closures was to get coverage for his Scottish trip then he has succeeded but he appears to have touched a raw nerve about one of the most difficult periods during the UK’s recent history.

This is from the Independent:

The prime minister was reported to have chuckled as he made the comment about his Tory predecessor’s wholesale closure of pits, which led to the bitterly divisive miners’ strike of 1984-85. Speaking during a visit to a wind-farm off the coast of Scotland, Mr Johnson said that the UK’s dependence on coal for its electricity had fallen from 70-80 per cent in his childhood to less than one per cent now largely “thanks to” Lady Thatcher. “We’ve transitioned away from coal in my lifetime,” he said. “Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”

In many ways it was the manner in which he made the remarks that has the potential to cause problems. Joking about something that saw tens of thousands lose their jobs and whole communities undermined doesn’t look good and I wonder what Scotland’s 6 CON MPs are thinking.

Many of the “Northern Wall” seats picked up by Johnson’s party at GE2019 were in traditional mining constituencies which were badly affected both by the miners’ strikes and the later pit closures.

It can be argued that his approach was not factually inaccurate. The closure of the mines led to the UK continuing to use a lot of coal to generate electricity but most of it was imported.

This is, of course, August and what used to be termed the “silly season” in the news business

Mike Smithson

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