When Arthur Scargill tried to buy his council flat, he bought Thatcherism

15 January 2014

There’s a case for saying that the Thatcher government’s sale of council houses was the biggest redistribution of wealth this country has ever seen. I’m not so sure. I am pretty convinced it was a contributory factor in the vaulting property greed which has been with us ever since, and the propensity of people to view a home as nothing more than collateral, to be ever traded up. I would have expected the former leader of the NUM, Arthur Scargill, to have agreed with me about this – and then some. But, as a consequence of some digging by the BBC, we now know that Arthur tried to buy his Barbican flat under the right-to-buy scheme, back in 1993, so that he might likewise make a killing. Nothing too good for the working class, eh, Arthur, you blank-faced Yorkshire hypocrite.

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  • Matt Quinn

    You’ve obviously never faced a Housing Officer – who didn’t like the (perfectly respectable and normal) decor you had chosen for your council flat tell you [quote] “It’s not YOUR house, it’s council property!” – Or lived in a brutalist-style block branded (I’m thinking of some flats on the road to Wishaw here) with the local council’s ‘coporate logo’ in fifteen-foot high letters on the side of your home… Stadt-control is no control of your own destiny!

    There’s no doubt she did it the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. But giving ordinary working-class people the right to a financial stake in their community was a real blow FOR the rights of working classes… Scotland; a day or two back, took away the right to buy from council tenants. Assuring that there will be many-a-ghetto for the middle-classes to exploit in the future… And that the state continues to curate Slumgemeinden to keep the stuffed shirts in power and the ‘lower orders’ in their place!

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    I’m sure I read that during the miners’ strike in 1984-5 Mr and Mrs Scargill moved into a £250,000 bungalow somewhere in Yorkshire. I live in Greater London and at that time my 3 bedroomed house was worth about 50,000. Can anyone confirm if I’m right about Scargill’s property dealings? I also believe there has been a set-to about the massive pension he has squeezed from the NUM. I wonder how his members feel about all this?

  • Lungfish

    Scargill was and always will be a self serving lick spittle.

  • Swanky

    Seeing that close-up reminds me of the exchange in the now-ancient film Tootsie, featuring Dustin Hoffman dressed as a woman. Not being the prettiest of gals, the director of a shoot within the film asks the DOP to back up. ‘How far? Cleveland?’

    In Scargill’s case I would suggest the Azores.

  • flower78

    You know, I’m not surprised. He applied a buy the luxury flat in the
    prestigious Barbican estate in 1993 under the controversial right-to-buy scheme.
    It just goes to demonstrate how disconnected Arthur was from the union, which
    would have never have allowed itself to benefit from a Thatcher policy.
    Everyone wants to get benefits and is thinking about his own needs.

  • Hippograd

    Scargill — Ceausescu without the charm, Kim il-Sung without the joie de vivre.

    …you blank-faced Yorkshire hypocrite.

    It’s only hypocrisy to the theologically illiterate. But Arthur knows that to the pure in heart, all things are permitted. It’s the principle that guides the Left in their selfless quest to reorder the world:

    In what was almost certainly the most powerful speech of his career, the
    prime minister used his speech to the Labour conference to synthesise
    an uncompromising hostility to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network – and
    the Taliban if they do not give him up – with a vaunting promise to
    remake the world as a better place. “Let us reorder this world”

    Hundreds of expenses claims by Tony Blair have been shredded, it has emerged. The claims and receipts, relating to Mr Blair’s final year in office, were destroyed even though there was an ongoing legal bid to have them published. Westminster officials say the documents were destroyed by mistake, as they did not realise they were the subject of a legal challenge. Tony Blair’s expenses shredded ‘by mistake’ – just as they were about to be made public

  • Richard

    I thought the Barbican was a private estate.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Most people, Rod, buy a house to live in. As I am sure you well know. Most people own or are in the process of getting to own, a single property. They cannot sell it because then they wouldn’t have anywhere to live.

  • John Smith

    So a trade unionist & socialist is a greedy hypocrite. Anyone surprised?

  • D Whiggery

    Why are we surprised? Right to buy is effectively the right to buy at a bargain price i.e. the state waives the right to part of the value. That’s a subsidy. Why wouldn’t a mindless lefty sign up for a subsidy? It might only be partly lefty, but I guess he thought it was better than nothing.

    Lefties can never spend too much of other people’s money.

  • Robert Taggart

    Champagne Communist ?

  • Eyesee

    May be a bit strong to call him a hypocrite, surely. I mean he was fairly well known for his communist leanings and I think it is clear to anyone outside the Left that this means a person who seeks personal advantage and to tell other people what to do. You’ll be supposing next that at any time he had at least a passing thought for the welfare of miners! As for the housing boom, that is an ugly face of another aspect of capitalism (it can’t be all good). When Marxists, attempting to destroy the family unit, insisted that women should work, it meant households had two incomes. To a salesman this means you can pay more and what greater purchase than a house. The market runs out of steam when prices reach the point joint incomes won’t be enough. Then they look for other ways to keep increasing prices – longer mortgage terms etc. A bit like the schemes banks use to bankrupt themselves, ever more complicated ruses really. (Mortgage. Mort- death, gauge – a measuring device. So mortgage, a measure of death).

    • Diogenes

      True. What he did there is actually entirely consistent with far-left principles:
      Anything that’s yours is mine but anything that’s mine is still mine.

      Therefore it’s not hypocrisy. It’s Ideal Communism.

  • Eddie

    At last someone states the truth: ‘I am pretty convinced it was a contributory factor in the vaulting property greed which has been with us ever since, and the propensity of people to view a home as nothing more than collateral, to be ever traded up.’

    And now, ordinary Londoners cannot afford to buy in their home city where foreign cash and buy to let investors rule (and are taxed WAY less than those in the USA for their property investments, even as they sponge off our taxes and gobble up housing benefit). Sad.

    Thatcher didn’t start selling council houses, of course – Labour councils did that. However, it took off in the 80s and everyone thinks she started it, and that perception has replaced the facts.

    What I resent is not the process but the fact people got discounts of 25% or more. Why? That was defrauding the public whose taxes has built the houses in the first place. Why not charge them full price?

    Those old style council estates are gone – despite efforts by immigration-adoring lefties to concrete over the greenbelt to build em. What we need is 1) fewer people (a million illegal immigrants in the UK at least, and plenty of others paid for and housed by councils in properties that natives should have); 2) a German-style public housing system, with joint ownerships, heavily regulated business involvement etc. 3) a tax system that charges those who own 2nd, 3rd and 4th homes way more tax – and maybe we need rent controls too.

    It’s so easy to take pops at socialist hypocrites of course – but that doesn’t make it wrong. Rather, it reminds us all how these shysters most certainly do not practise what they preach, despite expecting tho ovine oafs who vote for them to live in slums.

    • tjamesjones

      Hang on, I don’t think the foreigners who ‘gobble up housing benefit’ are the same ones driving up the prices of London properties. Also, in the last budget George Osborne announced that foreign resident owners of UK property will now pay CGT on sales.

      Thatcher is famous for the pro-active Housing Act of 1980 which created a right to buy at a significant discount to market value. That’s why it “took off in the 1980s”.

      • Eddie

        I did not say foreigners were gobbling up housing benefit; I said buy to let landlords were and have done for decades – we stupidly continue paying this benefit, one that does not even exist in most EU countries (though immigrants from those countries are keen to claim it here).
        Loads of foreign investors buying up properties in London too, to protect their dosh against a Euro collapse.
        The taxes paid by owners of second or investment properties are tiny compared to similar investors in, say, New York. Read some MoneyWeek articles. We clearly need to up taxes for property owners – for far too long only income has counted when they work out benefits; why not all assets?
        Yes, there was the Housing Act but also it was mega-promoted so hit the headlines – people are sheep really when following fashions. Still, the British public got robbed. No-one should have been given any discount on their council house.

  • Foredeck

    One a p**** always a p…

  • Baron

    Arthur’s a hypocrite all right, but then show Baron a Leftie who isn’t. His decision to acquire the flat shows however he’s also sensible. Property is the only asset class that escapes CGT, it beats hands down any other saving vehicle one could think of.

    Good on you, Arthur, pity they’ve turned you down.

    • Daniel Maris

      “Red Robbo”? Seemed a v. decent chap.

    • Geronimo von Huxley

      Funny how Manorial Rights are slipping through everyone’s fingers as we speak.

    • arnoldo87

      While I agree with you totally about Scargill, there are lefties who are not hypocrites. Two examples of which are Dennis Skinner and ex-MP Dave Nellist.

      • Simon Gothard

        That’s it though.

    • Robert Taggart


      • Lungfish

        do you remember Mrs Hamilton Robert?

        • Robert Taggart

          Nope – after our time.

          • Lungfish

            your memory must be failing!

            • Robert Taggart

              One left before her and before you !
              Have noticed your THIRD ! ‘incarnation’ on Facebook – there be a few old pals looking to befriend you – can you believe it ? !

  • Daniel Maris

    He was always more cosmetics and coiffure than communism… Still, he was right about the Tory Government’s intentions.

    I opposed the undemocratic miners’ strike at the time. A sensible socialist programme would have provided for a much more socially just gradual closure of mines, with full economic development programmes for the pit towns and villages as the pits closed.

  • MikeF

    I believe Edward Heath used the same legislation to buy his nice mews house in Salisbury. But in neither case was the property previously council-owned – Edward’s belonged to the cathedral and Arthur’s to the NUM. In another way both examples show how Mrs T upset all sorts of corporate interests.

    • Daniel Maris

      Re-read the article – it was owned by teh City of London.

      • MikeF

        Yes – you are right but the rent was paid by the NUM, which was the reason for my error. In a sense, though, the fact he was trying to buy a place on which he did not even pay the rent makes his actions even worse. But I believe I am right about Heath.

        • Daniel Maris

          Depends if you believe his claim – he was trying to acquire an asset for the Union…not sure I am entirely convinced.

  • NedMissingTeeth

    Another sanctimonious hypocritical leftie.

  • pedestrianblogger

    Scargill? A hypocrite? Whatever next?

  • sfin

    Scargill is only being true to his left wing credentials. “Do as I say, not as I do”.
    Hypocritical? Yes. Left wing? Means the same thing.

  • HenryWood

    Eee by gum, lad, it were all about brass, weren’t it? Politics never came into it, my Uncle Arthur told me.

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