Who is Arthur Scargill and why are people comparing Mick Lynch to him?

Arthur Scargill used to be the president of the NUM
Arthur Scargill used to be the president of the NUM

The past year has seen immense numbers walk out on strike across a variety of industries, including rail workers, Royal Mail staff, Border Force officers, and more.

The rail strikes backed by RMT and Mick Lynch have been making headlines for months now, with a series of 48-hour strikes set to take place throughout December 2022 and January 2023.

Many have likened Mick Lynch to Arthur Scargill, which may have led many to wonder who Scargill is.

Here’s everything we know about the famous trade unionist.

Who is Arthur Scargill?

Arthur Scargill is a British trade unionist who used to be the president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The Yorkshire native is the son of a miner, who was also a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

He left school early at the age of 15 to become a coalminer at his local mine, Wolley Colliery.

Two years later, in 1955, he joined the Young Communist League and became its Yorkshire District chair in 1956.

Arthur Scargill is a trade unionist known for taking a stand during the miners’ strikes (PA Archive)
Arthur Scargill is a trade unionist known for taking a stand during the miners’ strikes (PA Archive)

The position saw him represent Yorkshire miners in Moscow and attend the World Federation of Trade Unions’ youth congress in Prague.

Scargill became a member of the Labour Party in 1962 and started studying economics, industrial relations, and social history at the University of Leeds.

He led an unofficial strike in Yorkshire in 1969 that ended up spreading across the country, eventually causing the then-president of the Yorkshire NUM, Sam Bullough, to be voted out.

In 1973, he became the compensation agent of the Yorkshire NUM, before taking the president title shortly after, remaining in the position until 1981.

Although his active striking and picketing days are mostly over, Scargill still makes an effort to visit picket lines when he can.

In recent months, he stopped by the picket lines of the National Coal Mining Museum’s strike action, for instance.

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Why are people comparing Mick Lynch to him?

Similar to Scargill’s belief in the importance of trade unions and strike action, Lynch has been backing the rail strikes and putting pressure on the Tory Government, as did Scargill, as the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

The two are no strangers. Scargill joined an RMT picket line in Wakefield on June 21, 2022, supporting the strike action Lynch and the rest of the RMT workers had decided on.

The visit caused the prime minister at the time, Boris Johnson, to attack the Labour Party, saying: “They’re out on the picket lines literally holding hands with Arthur Scargill” when the strikes were being addressed during a PMQ.

The following month, Scargill joined Lynch at the opening of the 2022 RMT Annual General Meeting on July 3, 2022.