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