Authors: M J Parker,

Thatcherism and the Fall of Coal

At the Start of the 1980s UK coal mines employed over two hundred thousand people, and produced over 100 million tonnes per year. By the end of the 1990s, more than 95 per cent of those jobs and 80 per cent of the output had been lost. Within a short space of time, a major British industry had all but passed into history, and as a result the entire political and industrial landscape had been irreversibly changed.

What caused the fall of coal? Was it just the result of political malice from Conservative governments determined to crush the power of the National Union of Mineworkers forever? Was it due to unstoppable market forces in the energy market that made UK deep mines unviable? Or did management and unions, through their mistakes, create the conditions of their own destruction?

In this book Michael Parker provides an insider’s account of the decline of the UK coal industry. He rejects any one simple explanation, and details how the Thatcherite  political agenda, political forces, and the industry’s own performance interacted to bring about this decline; often in ways which were unforeseen by the players themselves.


  1. The Arrival of Mrs Thatcher: Confrontation Postponed
  2. The Great Strike
  3. ‘Turning British Coal into a Business’?
  4. Electricity Privatisation and the ‘Coal Crisis’ of October 1992
  5. The Coal Review and the Settlement of March 1993
  6. The Privatisation of British Coal
  7. The Privatised Industry: Unresolved Problems
  8. Thatcherism and the Fall of Coal: Final Reflections