During the miners' strike, Andrew Glyn argued that the slogan "coal not dole" made economic sense. He said unprofitable pits should be kept open because the subsidy the government gave them was less than the tax-payer would spend on dole payments to unemployed miners; these, he thought, would not quickly find new jobs.All perfectly true, no doubt. This would also have been perfectly true of attempts to prevent the loss of jobs in, say, the weaving industry, had a welfare state existed in the nineteenth century. What hasn't been explained, so far as I have seen, is why it would make sense to freeze employment and industry in what would become an increasingly distant and irrelevant past, in order to avoid some immediate costs.
And it turns out that they didn't. Steve Fothergill says that, of the 213,000 mining jobs lost since 1985, 90,000 have not been replaced. What's more, many of the jobs that have been created in the former coalfields have come only recently; more than 50,000 since 2001.
And even these new jobs have required government help - so one set of subsidized jobs has replaced another.
This could be because it makes no sense at all to do this. It's just a cry of "Stop the World! I want to get off".