[1993:] Monktonhall Colliery in Midlothian was the last pit my father worked in. It was closed down by British Coal / the Government as being uneconomical. The Miners decided to pool their redundancy money, and with outside financial help, plus backing by the same Government, they bought the pit and eventually started producing coal. This whole process took something like three and a half years, between the closing and reopening of the pit. The first order the Miners received, was for 185,000 tonnes of coal from British Coal. That angered me enough to write this song, what does it do to you? (Davy Steele, notes Ceolbeg 'An Unfair Dance')
[1996:] Aus historischer Sicht wäre [dies mein Lied für ein ewiges Songbook], um zu zeigen, wie Industrien, die einmal stark und wichtig waren und das Rückgrat des Landes bildeten, sich verändern. (Davy Steele, Progammheft ScFF '97, p. 23)
[1997:] A new pithead is to be constructed in South Wales and miners will once again pour home through terraced streets. [The film] 'Towards the Lights' is set to do for South Wales miners what 'The Full Monty' did for Sheffield steel workers. [It] will dramatise the tale of the successful workers' buy-out of the Tower Colliery in Hirwaun, Glamorgan. [Author Alan Plater describes it as] 'An extraordinary tale of the Coal Board closing down the colliery only for the men to use their redundancy money to buy back the pit.' So successful have they been that last year - only the second in their ownership - Tower, now the only deep cast mine in Wales, made £4.3m profit on a turnover of £22m. (Observer, 16 Nov)
[1998:] [Last week] government ministers were meeting to finalise plans to save a market for Britain's 23 remaining deep coal mines. [...] With Labour set to launch its first major industrial intervention since coming to power, serious questions are being raised in the heart of government as to why it should choose to save a business seen as dangerous, bad for the environment and uneconomic. In opposition, Labour, with its historic ties to the mining communities, believed there was an easy answer: coal was a national asset, providing a secure supply of electricity for the nation and much-needed employment for 5,000 miners. [...]
But in government, Labour has found it much harder to justify large-scale state intervention, particularly in the face of intense lobbying [by consumer groups, the Confederation of British Industry, environmentalists and US companies against a so-called 'gas moratorium' ]. In the face of such a powerful coalition it is no surprise that Labour ministers are asking whether it is really worth saving 5,000 jobs in what some see as an old-fashioned, declining and dirty industry. [The Government's energy advisory] panel advised the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] that shutting Britain's remaining pits would not materially effect [sic!] the security of the country's energy supplies. [...] Not only would Britain's coal always be there - to be used at some later date if the need arose - there would always be plenty of cheap coal available from friendly nations like the US, Australia and South Africa. There was also the option of building more nuclear power stations and investing more in the renewable sector.
Yet Paymaster-General Geoffrey Robinson, the senior Treasury minister in charge of the energy review, appears determined to broker a deal to keep a market for at least 20 million tonnes of coal a year. Although this would still spell closure for a handful of the remaining pits, the coal lobby accepts this as a workable compromise. It steadfastly rejects the argument that electricity generated from coal is more expensive. The Confederation of UK Coal Producers [...] argues that as the UK already has ample generators to supply the country's electricity needs, the dash for gas is costing an unneccessary £250 million to £1 billion a year. Much of this cost has been hidden by the confusing and complex arrangement for setting electricity prices, known as the Pool. The UK's two largest generators, National Power and PowerGen, dominate the price-setting mechanism, which has the effect of keeping prices artificially high and allowing them to make huge profits, passing extra costs on to consumers. [...] Credit must go to the Government [...] for insisting that the energy review include a radical reform of the Pool. [...]
It will take at least a couple of years for fair electricity trading arrangements to bed down, backed by tough new regulation designed to make sure that low coal prices translate into low electricity bills. Then the ban on new gas-fired power stations could be lifted, and Labour could leave Britain's coal industry to sink or swim with a clear conscience. [Antony Barnett, Observer, 7 June)