Thatcher’s secrets revealed

Nick Jones, BBC Radio Industrial Correspondent during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike, comments on the latest revelations from the Cabinet Papers and Margaret Thatcher’s own documents released under the 30-year rule.

Cabinet Papers covering the last four months of the bitter year-long miners’ strike and its aftermath were released on 30 December 2014. Veteran BBC correspondent Nicholas Jones highlights key revelations in the Cabinet Papers and also what is missing from them.

  • So many telephones were being tapped during the 1984-5 miners’ strike that the Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong became so alarmed that he took immediate steps to ensure that no mention was ever made of the extent of the eavesdropping.
  • Margaret Thatcher’s success in hushing up the bugging of phones by the Security Service MI5 is finally revealed in her 1985 cabinet papers released by the National Archives.
  • Action to prevent public disclosure of the role of intelligence officers was personally approved by the Prime Minister.
  • Six months after the end of the 1984-5 miners’ strike Margaret Thatcher was still intervening personally to protect miners who continued to be victimised for having defied the National Union of Mineworkers and resumed work.
  • A secret Downing Street report into the aftermath of the 1984-5 miners’ strike says that Margaret Thatcher would have been beaten by Arthur Scargill if she had not intervened personally in the first week of the dispute to establish what amounted to a national police force. The decisive moment was her instruction to the Home Secretary that chief constables had to stiffen their resolve to stop the movement of flying pickets in order to keep the pits open for working miners.

Read Nicholas Jones blog:

Miners’ Strike – Cabinet papers expose cover-up of massive MI5 operation

The full accounts of these and other revelations can be read at:

Pit strike fixer whose access to Downing Street alarmed civil servants

Telephone taps and secret surveillance helped Margaret Thatcher defeat Arthur Scargill in the year-long pit dispute

Margaret Thatcher’s secret support for strike breakers after pit dispute

Arthur Scargill would have won if Margaret Thatcher hadn’t sent an extra 7,000 police officers to the coalfields

“No gloating” over Arthur Scargill’s defeat as Mrs Thatcher prepares for a “MacGregor miracle” after pit closures and redundancies


On 7 March 2015 at Unity Hall, Wakefield, Nick Jones will be speaking on the Cabinet Papers at ‘With Banners Held High’, an event commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike in March 1985.

For further information about the event, contact Granville Williams – wbhh@talktalk.net  or 01977 646580.