Scargill to stand in Welsh elections

By Tom Happold
Published February 12th 2003 in The Guardian

Former miners' leader Arthur Scargill is to stand for election to the Welsh assembly in May on a platform of greater public ownership.

He will top the regional list for his Socialist Labour party in south-east Wales.

Mr Scargill told the Western Mail: "We are going into the assembly election on a policy which spells out socialism ... we want to see the health, education and housing systems taken into public ownership."

It is also understood that he wants to see the mines renationalised and reopened.

He branded first minister Rhodri Morgan's socialism decidedly "pink", on BBC Wales, condemning the administration for its support of PFI schemes.

Under the assembly's proportional representation system, Socialist Labour is putting up candidates in three regions.

Socialist Labour, founded after Labour abandoned its clause IV commitment to public ownership, has had no major electoral success.

Mr Scargill's attempt to unseat Peter Mandelson in Hartlepool at the last general election ended in humiliation when he polled a meagre 912 votes - only 2.4% of the vote. The victory prompted Mr Mandelson's victory speech declaring himself "a fighter not a quitter".

Mr Scargill stood down last year as president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a post he held for more than 20 years. He continues to be employed as a consultant by the union, for £1,000 a month, and as its honorary president.

The NUM's defeat in the 1984 miners strike led his leadership to be compared to that of General Haig and other first world war generals, when the miners were described as lions led by donkeys.

The union claims to have up to 10,000 members now but it is thought that only a few thousand of those are still working.