Margaret Thatcher dies: 'A great day', says leader of miners

Lana Clements
Yahoo! News UK

The death of Baroness Thatcher was a "great day" for coal miners, David Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners' Association said today.

The ex-miner, who turned 70 today, spent all of his working life at Wearmouth Colliery.

[Prime Minister who took on the unions - and won]

He said: "It looks like one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

"There's no sympathy from me for what she did to our community. She destroyed our community, our villages and our people.

"For the union this could not come soon enough and I'm pleased that I have outlived her.

"It's a great day for all the miners, I imagine we will have a counter demonstration when they have her funeral.

"Our children have got no jobs and the community is full of problems. There's no work and no money and it's very sad the legacy she has left behind.

"She absolutely hated working people and I have got very bitter memories of what she did. She turned all the nation against us and the violence that was meted out on us was terrible.

"I would say to those people who want to mourn her that they're lucky she did not treat them like she treated us."

Meanwhile, Baroness Thatcher's policies were called "fundamentally wrong" by former London mayor Ken Livingstone.

He told Sky News the former Conservative prime minister was responsible for "every real problem" faced in the UK today, as he claimed she had led millions of people out of work.

Mr Livingstone said: "Of course she was popular, she was offering people their homes at a cut price. But she didn't build any houses.

"She created today's housing crisis, she produced the banking crisis, she created the benefits crisis. It was her government that started putting people on incapacity benefits rather than register them as unemployed because the Britain she inherited was broadly at full employment.

"She decided when she wrote off our manufacturing industry that she could live with two or three million unemployed and the legacy of that, the benefits bill that we are still struggling with today.

"In actual fact, every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact she was fundamentally wrong."

He also said that it was to Tony Blair's "shame" that he "broadly carried on" most of her policies.

Mr Livingstone added: "She once claimed New Labour was her greatest legacy and I am not saying she was joking."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "Mrs Thatcher was a powerful politician who will be remembered by many for the destructive and divisive policies she reigned over which in the end, even in the Tory party, proved to be her downfall.

"Her legacy involves the destruction of communities, the elevation of personal greed over social values and legitimising the exploitation of the weak by the strong."

[Margaret Thatcher dies at 87 following stroke]

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said: "Margaret Thatcher laid the basis for policies which wrecked the lives of millions in Britain. But she should also be remembered as a warmonger.

"She led alongside Ronald Reagan the escalation of the Cold War. She introduced cruise missiles to Britain and fought the Falklands war. Her arms deals with Saudi Arabia were notorious. Her legacy was Tony Blair who built enthusiastically on her record."

Most of the country's leading unions preferred not to make any comment about her death.

Colleagues of Arthur Scargill, the former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, who clashed bitterly with Mrs Thatcher during the 1984/85 miners' strike, said he was unlikely to make any comment.