Boris Johnson’s remarks about pit closures have been met with anger and hurt in St Helens borough.
Speaking at an event last week in Scotland, the Prime Minister laughed and claimed the Conservatives under Thatcher had given the UK a “big early start” in tackling climate change by decimating the coal industry.
Local resident Jim Housley was one of thousands who worked in the coal industry in St Helens. He says the Prime Minister’s comments were hurtful and called for him to apologise.
Jim says: “When the pits closed we felt lost and angry, and the community lost its focal point. It was like throwing a pebble in a pond. It had a ripple effect and everybody felt it. It didn’t just affect those who lost their jobs but their families, other businesses, and our whole community.
Boris Johnson spoke about us as if we’re nothing. He needs to apologise for being so flippant about something so close to people’s hearts. The closures devastated towns like ours for so long and it’s clear that the Conservative Party haven’t changed their opinion of us – they didn’t care then and they don’t care now.”
St Helens Borough Council Leader David Baines says: “Boris Johnson’s insensitive remarks are typical of him and typical of his Party. Conservatives didn’t decimate the coal industry and communities like ours for any environmental reason, they did it because they didn’t care about places like St Helens or the people who live here, and they still don’t. He should apologise for his remarks and for the devastation his Party deliberately brought to St Helens and other proud communities.”
Deputy Leader of St Helens Borough Council Cllr Sev Gomez-Aspron says: “The Tories have never made a secret of the disdain for the North. Sometimes they hide it well, and other times the mask slips. On the 40th anniversary of their infamous ‘managed decline’ strategy for Merseyside, Boris Johnson has once again revealed his admiration for Thatcher and contempt for the North. Mining is an industry which contributed to the wealth of the nation massively. It’s insulting to be so flippant about that industry now.”
Marie Rimmer, Member of Parliament for St Helens South and Whiston, says: “The Prime Minister’s remarks shows how little he cares or even knows about certain parts of the country. Communities were left devastated thanks to the damage that Margaret Thatcher inflicted. There was no plan to help areas like St Helens, the Conservatives simply pulled the rug from under our feet.
“The treatment of our miners is what first inspired me to get into politics. Still to this day I am fighting to get them their own pension fund back. The Prime Minister has still yet to apologise for what he said. I hope he does as the devastation caused to mining towns by the Conservatives is still felt.”
Conor McGinn, Member of Parliament for St Helens North, says: “In a rare moment of honesty Boris Johnson told us what he and the Conservatives really think about our communities, our history and our people. They didn’t care then and they don’t care now.”
Watch an interview with Jim Housley on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/StHLabour/posts/887999821815580