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Arthur Scargill

Arthur Scargill (born January 11, 1938) was leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from 1981 to 2000 and is presently (2003) the leader of the Socialist Labour Party, a political party he founded in 1996.

Scargill was born in Worsbrough Dale, just south of Barnsley, the son of Harold, a miner and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He became a miner after leaving school, working at Woolley Colliery from 1953. He soon became a left-wing political activist, joining the Young Communist League from 1955-1962. He became a member of the Labour Party 1962-1996. Then he became the leader of the Yorkshire miners union 1973-1981 and became president of the NUM in 1981.

He is renowned as a fiery and effective orator. He bitterly opposed the industrial policies of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, and rose to national prominence during the 1984-1985 miners' strike; defeat for the miners in this strike was followed by a split in the union. He founded the Socialist Labour Party after criticizing what he saw as a lurch to the right by the Labour Party. His breakaway party has had little success in the polls.\n