“When he lost it, he lost the ground on which he lived and moved and had his being” - from Robin Page Arnot’s epitaph to A.J. Cook
On the TUC demo in Brum today. much of the informal discussion was about Scargill’s High Court dispute with the NUM over the ‘grace and favour’ flat he claims is his by right. Several good, veteran trade unionists were clearly shocked by Scargill’s bare-faced avarice, as well as his bizarre and embarrassing appearance on Channel 4 (http://www.channel4.com/news/scargills-silence-over-expenses-case) when confronted by reporter Katie Razzall last Thursday.
Judging by that performance, Scargill has lost it. Which is probably the most charitable explanation that can be given.
Scargill’s determination to hang on to the million-pound Barbican flat, which is costing the cash-strapped NUM (with fewer than 2,000 members, a shadow of its former self) £34,000 per year, is simply inexcusable. Especially as he appears to want to bequeath it, on his death, to the woman he’s presently living with. On top of that, he is demanding that the NUM pays for the fuel for his house in Barnsley.
Scargill’s politics were always a dodgy mixture of Stalinism, vainglory and populism, but even so, he played an overwhelmingly positive role during the great strike of 1984-5. It is a genuine tragedy to see a once-great figure reduced to such ignominy.
Above: A.J. Cook
One senior trade unionist I was talking to today compared the sad figure of Scargill to A.J. Cook’s shocking personal and political decline after the defeat of the general strike. I was only vaguely aware of Cook’s tragic final years, but having now read Paul Foot’s account (http://www.marxists.org/archive/foot-paul/1986/01/ajcook.htm) I have to say I feel rather more sympathy for Cook than for Scargill.