Sir John Major admits Tories 'got it wrong' with coal mine closures at North East talk

Sir John Major gave a lecture in South Shields on Friday.
Sir John Major gave a lecture in South Shields on Friday.

The man who was leading the country at the time the gates closed on the remaining mines in the North East, devastating workers and their families, has admitted in retrospect “he would have done things differently".

Sir John Major spoke out on what was a dark time for the Conservatives as the country turned against them during his visit to the region on Friday.

He admits the Conservative party "got it wrong" when deciding to close the coal mines.

He admits the Conservative party "got it wrong" when deciding to close the coal mines.

The former Prime Minister was the guest speaker at the South Shields Lecture held at Harton Academy, organised annually by the town’s ex-MP David Miliband,

The event was dominated by Brexit and his views on the situation but he also spoke about the closing down of mines in the 1990s.

He admitted his party had “misjudged the situation” and had believed by closing the mines, money saved could be re-invested back into the economy.

He also thought it would enable them to provide a level of redundancy never seen before during the stages of the mines being closed.

He said: “I remember that time very vividly as we misjudged the situation.”

He added there had been a proposal from the National Coal Board to close 31 mines, and the text of a paper had suggested that “everyone was expecting those mines would be closed” with the price of closing those mines would then be “fresh investment” in order to regenerate the economy.

“The announcement came at the end of the recession, so people were still raw.

“I can only say we were not a bunch of monsters with vile intentions.

Related content: Sir John Major makes case for second Brexit vote in South Shields talk

“We thought we were doing something which would enable us to close down the problem which was getting worse each year.

“We thought we were helping people on a scale that was never done before.

“In retrospect I would go back and would have done things differently. I think it was the biggest single misjudgement.

“That was public opinion, not just the miners. People were angry with us. And in retrospect you can see why.

“You think you are doing something good and it’ll turn out right but you just get it wrong.”