Ex-Miner: Thatcher was no friend of Wigan

Miners Strike 1984 - protest through Wigan town centre along Standishgate
Miners Strike 1984 - protest through Wigan town centre along Standishgate

A FORMER Wigan pitman told of his bitter feelings towards Margaret Thatcher despite her death.

Without a moment’s hesitation, dad-of-one Eric Foster insisted that ex-mining communities like Golborne were not ready to forgive or forget the devastation caused at the hands of her government.

And nor, he insists, should they do so.

The last president of Golborne Branch of the National Union of Mineworkers still believes that it could have won the 1984 national strike “caused” by the former PMs controversial pit closure programme if other trade unionists had stood alongside the colliery workers in their time of need.

And he believes that Mrs Thatchers’ legacy includes the destruction of a viable and key fuel industry for political ends in order to break the union movement for the future.

Golborne pit, known locally as Kid Glove, was closed less than five years after miners returned to work.

Eric, who lives in Ashton with wife Gill, was also a borough Labour councillor during the Thatcherite years.

And he remembers them as a time of brutal cuts and a battle for the town hall to continue to provide services for which they were nationally renowned under a regime of rate-capping “them and us” between Wigan and Whitehall.

A committed church-goer, he certainly won’t be joining any memorials being planned for her.

Mr Foster said: “It never dies for a minute - it never goes away.

“I was with some of my friends in the pub last night and it is still the same, people around this area despise the woman, there is no other way to put it.

“Thatcher was no friend of Wigan, never mind the miners.

“She came to Wigan, I think she was going to the Tote at the time, but it was all wrapped up in a cloud of secrecy so that people around here couldn’t approach her, that is how hated she was.

“The next thing we know we have been rate-capped and the council had to do all manner of cut backs.

“At the time Wigan Council was the pride of the UK with the social service programme and what we did for old people who couldn’t help themselves but after she had finished we had to let so many facilities for them go by the way because we didn’t have the money to run them any more.

“After the strike and up to closure the uncertainty was horrible, fearing who’d be next. We fought the fight 100 per cent but were beaten by the lack of backing.”