Monday, November 27, 2006

Thatcher and Coal: 'My Arse' says Ricky Tomlinson…

Actor and comedian Ricky Tomlinson couldn’t help revealing his deep hatred of Lady Thatcher in his TV documentary on the demise of coal just shown on C5.

Tomlinson, best known for his TV portrayal as the lazy-arsed slob Jim Royale in the The Royale Family - went to prison for two years for his part in a building strike in the seventies. The former hard-line activist never forgot that it was the close-knit mining community who fed and cared for his family when he was banged up.

His emotional tribute to miners was used as a backdrop to fascinating previously unseen film of mining and miners through the Twentieth Century.

The British Empire was driven by coal in two world wars of course. I agree with Tomlinson that our nation owes those who mined the coal an enormous debt of gratitude.

But for me, Tomlinson’s film serves as a reminder of the desperately high price miners and their families paid – and how little regard there was through the 20th Century for the safety or welfare of working miners.

In the 1930s, on average four British workers died in our pits every day. In the worst disaster at Senghenydd Colliery in South Wales in 1913, 439 workers were killed in one day – just a decade after an another disaster claimed a further 90 lives in the same pit.

Tomlinson saved his venom for Lady Thatcher for the very last frame of the 60-minute special from the heart.

We were treated to the infamous clip of Tory cabinet minister Michael Heseltine telling the Commons that coal mines must shut because they couldn’t produce coal economically. Thatcher claimed there was no demand for deep-mined coal.

Cut to Tower Colliery in South Wales, a living testimony to the big Tory lie on coal.

When the Tories closed the pit at the top of the Rhondda, miners pooled their redundancy pay-offs, took out bank loans and bought the pit.

And today Tower is economic. It runs successfully - and safely – providing a living for more than 400 miners. It's the only working pit in South Wales.

Tomlinson stares angrily into the camera lens and says:
“Where Mrs Thatcher is going very soon, she won’t need to worry about coal, because it will be roasting hot…and when it happens, I’ll be having a pint with the miners.”


Anonymous said...

"His part in a buliding strike?". A novel way to describe a threat of violence. I thought he was jailed for "conspiracy to intimidate". I am sorry it was only two years, I would have given him at least twenty. The guy is obviously cracked. I didn't even know he was religious. Tomlinson might as well dream of an afterlife, because Thatcher has trounced him in this one. The last I heard of him he had been reduced to doing "an evening with...". And he got Elton Welsby! Dear oh dear, no wonder he is so bitter, I would be.

As for the 400 miners in Wales. Doesn't that prove the point? We said coal was uneconomical. Anyone is entitled to have a go and do better if they wish. And there mine. We were right and you were wrong. Thatcher's place in history is assured. See SPL's article about her being the highest ranked PM of the 20th Century...and he is a lefty! Tomlinson and the miners are the losers of history, and no one remembers them.

fairdealphil said...

Oh Deary me michael...

> "We said coal was uneconomical."

Is that the Royale we, Michael?

It seems Tomlinson served his time - (i've no doubt he would have served longer under Labour!!!)

I certainly don't condone his law-breaking of 30-odd years ago - whatever it was that he was convicted of. and I certainly don't sign up to his politics...

But I'm glad he made a decent documentary as tribute to the miners.

Far from Tomlinson being "reduced" to whatever as you say, the truth is Ricky Tomlinson hasn't done badly for himself, and probably better than Yow.

So don't begrudge anyone success in life...

As for economical coal, i wonder how much it now costs our nation to import its coal -

And it's not just the financial costs - it's hardly environmentally friendly to haul it across continents and oceans is it??

The miners deserved better than Scargill - and frankly better than Thatcher/Heseltine.

To dismiss them as losers of history who no-one remembers does them a dis-service.

They did the most dangerous job -but were badly let down right through the 20th Century.

If miners didn't die in pit disasters, the pneumonicosis would probably claim you later.

A horrible demise and death.

It's right to honour our miners.

And btw, I'm proud that one of the first acts of the Labour Government in 1997 was to agree to the miners compensation which the Tories stubbornly refused.

It's the biggest industrial payout in British history.

And worth every penny.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what you wrote Phil. Mr Tomlinson was sentenced to two years for conspiracy to intimidation and affray. He was a trade union activist and the offence, committed with others was related to his involvement in organising building strikes in 1972. He refused to testify against fellow activists and he made national intelligence files!! To this day be believes the trial and sentence was politically motivated. One of his friends died during his sentence of imprisonment and this had a traumatic effect on him.

Mr Tomlinson did see the light Michael. He was a member of the National Front before he became a socialist.

He is considering appealing against his conviction - I think he has a good chance of overturning it. He is also a wealthy man but has remained true to his roots. That is why he continues to do what Michael considers demeaning shows.

Anonymous said...


No it is not the "we" in the Royale(sic) sense, rather "we" as in nominative case of the first person plural pronoun in English. As in "we", the right. Though it could of course refer to "we" the nation. WE were led (gloriously) by Thatcher against the revolutionaries and assorted Marxists.

I expect that Tomlinson has done alright. I also expect that he did not earn as much money as me at age 28.

As for the tribute. Well lawbreakers still together, so he did right to defend the miners. The miners go entirely what they deserved.

I don't care about the environment. I believe that ruse. I expect the cost is less to import than it is to dig up. Otherwise we would be digging it up. That is the ways economics works Phil you see, whenever the Government stops sticking its pecker in.

I am glad you are proud of the Labour Government. They say it comes before a fall.

Liz: Most convicts claim to have been fitted up. If Tomlinson saw the light, then it must have been pretty faint if he became a socialist. So he went from the BNP to being a socialist. Hilarious, a serial loser!

I can't say I am sorry that he suffered from his imprisonment. I wish more prisons felt a damn sight more trauma. I suspect it was nothing in comparison to the people he intimidated.

And as for doing those evenings with Elton. Get real woman! He does it for money. I hope he wastes it all on a losing appeal.

Anonymous said...

It's Royle not Royale - hardly important in the grand scheme of things but it was annoying me!!

Anonymous said...

God Save the Queen.

Bring back Maggie!

Anonymous said...

Is that Queen Maggie? ("We are a grandmother")

Wasn't the pound coin going to be named after her: thick and brassy and thinks it's a sovereign?

Anonymous said...

So Michael Oakeshott has been forced to emigrate.

Believe me, we're grateful for that.

While Ricky Tomlinson is a star of stage and screen.

It's a terrible thing envy, eh Michael.

Anonymous said...

Very good Bruno. I will take my kind of failure any time thanks. From recent quotes it is Tomlinson who suffers from envy. I have a lot of reasons not to swap my life for his. And I am not stuck in Skegness either.

Anonymous said...

The lie about mining being "uneconomic" was shown at the time. The notion was based on the belief that oil could be imported at a lower cost than coal could be dug up. Yet the only country Thatch could import oil from at that lower cost was Libya, and she had to break her own sanctions to do it.

fairdealphil said...


Don't worry about asses who name-call and attempt to sit on your achievements.

Loyal carrot-crunching yellow-bellies love Skeggy and we know you've made it to the top of the pile: you're the best of British, a star in your own right.

fairdealphil said...


Government and falls...dream on. i see labour are back in front in latest polling, with cameron's tories slipping again.

you may recall the years when labour was miles ahead in the opinion polls, but couldn't win an election...

i accept cameron is attempting to present himself different to his predessessors, but he hasn't made the real breakthrough he needs.

Anonymous said...

Yeh Bruno, don't cry...

Oh we believe the polls now ONE says you are winning. Just because you failed in the 80's, and most of the 90's, don't assume everyone else will. Much as I dislike Cameron...a lot..., it is quite inconcievable that he won't win. The Tories were desperately weak, and Blair was electorally superb. In the media age, Cameron will trounce Brown. You are on the way out. And all your bleating doesn't hide the fact that even you know it.

Anonymous said...


I think you'll find we bray.

EEE-aw, eee-AW, that kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

I've created a game which is an Ironic Parody of the Miners' strike at and other Thatcher games at