- Category : Politics-Labor-unions
- Type : ME
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Planning 2
A Scottish coal miner and dedicated Communist and regarded as a working class hero, Mick McGahey became chairman of the local branch of his union when he was only eighteen and thereafter progressed through its echelons, though never quite reaching the national presidency. He was elected to the Scottish Executive of the NUM in 1958, becoming president of the Scottish area in 1967. He was regarded as a highly competent operator but his strongly militant line was opposed by others in the Union. He was defeated in the 1971 elections for National President by Joe Gormley. McGahey was, however, elected National Vice-President of the NUM in 1972. He made similar progress in the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), being elected to its Executive in 1971. He remained a member until the CPGB dissolved in 1991 and then joined its successor in Scotland, the Communist Party of Scotland.
He was regarded by those close to him as warm and companionable, and - by the conference journalists he opened up to - as an entertaining conversationalist. Some on the employers’ side with whom he had worked felt that he could often be pragmatic. These qualities (and a love of poetry) were hidden from the wider public by his rasping voice - the product of 25 years underground and a lifetime smoking - coupled with an enduring Lanarkshire accent and a pugnacious oratorical style.
He came to the attention of the public during the Miners Strikes of 1972 and 1974. He later claimed these were purely industrial disputes, made political by the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath. Nevertheless, he took a characteristically militant line, opposing some of the tactics of the Union President, Joe Gormley, accusing him of “ballotisis” and swearing he would not be “constitutionalised” out of a national strike. Gormley, it was later claimed, postponed his own retirement until 1981, by which time McGahey was over 55, too old by union rules to stand for President.