Sunday 24 January 2021
The Coke War
We were not really having a culture war in Britain. People on either side of either argument do not believe that statues or street names are as important as abortion. But then we got a new coal mine.
Welcome to the Coke War. On one side are those for whom coke is used in smelting. On the other side are those for whom coke is used for snorting. All three parties on the Labour-led Cumbria County Council voted in favour of the new pit at Whitehaven, illustrating the fact that the division between Smelters and Snorters cuts across any ordinary political spectrum.
From 30 minutes in, the great Dave Douglass has the measure of the people who think that they can have chocolate wind turbines, or electric cars made out of wicker. The only scientist to ring in agrees with him. Dave points out that the coalfield communities remain the poorest communities in Britain. So much, I might add, for 13 years of Labour Prime Ministers who sat for County Durham and for Fife.
Yet All the President's Men was on BBC Four on Thursday. The Watergate Complex was owned by the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme, so that its ultimate Trustees included Arthur Scargill and Mick McGahey. That is only one example of the wealth and power that have been lost by communities that still have a thousand years of their valuable natural resource beneath their feet.
Whether it is the coal to make their turbines and their cars, or whether it is the precious metals for their Green New Deal and their toys, or whether it is their cocaine, the Snorters will cheerfully import the produce of child and slave labour, extracted with no environmental standards whatever and then shipped over vast distances of carbon footprint. But they will never, ever, ever countenance the well-paid, unionised, environmentally safeguarded employment of their compatriots, the Smelters. Welcome to the Coke War.