MP backs Boris as PM’s coal-mining comments are condemned

MP backs Boris as PM’s coal-mining comments are condemned

By Adele Forrest | 12/08/2021

MP backs Boris as PM’s coal-mining comments are condemned

 

TORY MP Alex Stafford has refused to condemn the Prime Minister for joking about coal mining closures and suggesting they had been good for the environment.

Boris Johnson made the comments during a visit to a Scottish wind farm, saying Margaret Thatcher had helped to give climate change an “early start”.

He has been widely panned for the comments, with some Tory MPs accusing the PM of “spitting in the face” of red wall communities, and ex-miner Kevin Horne calling them “another slap in the face from the Tories”.

Rother Valley MP Mr Stafford would not criticise the PM instead shifting the blame to Labour but the Conservative group leader on Rotherham Council agreed the comments were “ill-judged”.

Mr Stafford (pictured) said: “I have previously and repeatedly spoken about the mistakes made by Margaret Thatcher in mining areas such as Rother Valley.

“However, we need to recognise that former mining communities have been failed by Labour, too.

“Whilst the Conservatives realise this and are working hard to deliver a bright future for local people, Labour has ignored these areas and has taken them for granted for generations.

“Meanwhile, I have been vocal about the need for a better green transition, which generates high-quality, well-paid jobs and creates prosperity for all, and this Government is doing exactly that for the people of Rother Valley.”

Emily Barley, leader of Rotherham Conservatives, said: “I agree that Boris’s comments were ill-judged, and clearly the pit closures were nothing to do with climate change.

“Many of the new Conservative councillors in Rotherham come from mining families and mining communities, and so we understand the sensitivities on this.

“While Rotherham’s past matters to us a great deal, we are focused on Rotherham’s future, serving our communities and delivering for local people on their priorities.”

Orgreave Truth and Justice campaigner, Mr Horne, said Mr Johnson’s comments were “another slap in the face from the Tories” adding: “He should bring his flippancy up here to Goldthorpe and Thurnscoe pit villages.

“The only trade that is thriving is the drugs trade today. All that is left in these areas are warehouses and call centres.”

He blasted the Rother Valley MP for not condemning the Prime Minister’s comments adding: “He should be speaking out in defence of his constituency. He should be sticking up for his constituency if he doesn’t, I won’t think much of him.”

Ex-Dinnington miner Dave Smith said: “Thatcher didn’t care about climate change, all she cared about was big business and market forces, our communities have been left to rot and our young people left with poor education and low paid work.

“But this has to be said Thatcher may have started it but past governments, including Labour, have allowed it to carry on, with little or no investment in our towns and villages.

“If Johnson thinks this is a joke he should come and visit us, I am sure our local MP will greet him with open arms.”

Dinnington resident Noel Wade (64) said Johnson’s comments were “shameful”.

“Boris Johnson may think it appropriate to make jokes about people losing their jobs,” he said.

“It was far from funny for the families on the receiving end of such an act of political vandalism.

“Alexander Stafford should understand that Johnson laughing at the plight of his constituents is never acceptable and speaks volumes regarding the government’s continued contempt for former coalfield communities.”

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