No doubt as far as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is concerned, Sir Ian MacGregor's new book, "The Enemies Within", could not have been better titled.
Ian MacGregor was the man brought over at considerable expense from the United States in 1980 by Mrs. Thatcher to straighten out the affairs of the financially troubled British Steel Corporation, and then three years later moved to the National Coal Board to try the same for the equally-ailing mining industry.Apart from being among the highest paid of the public sector industry chiefs, Sir Ian was, on his retirement from the Coal Board this year, given a title for his services to the nation.
In return he has published his book critical of the government, particularly energy secretary Peter Walker, for lack of support during the 1984-85 national coal miners' strike.
In the first extract of the book now being serialized in a Sunday newspaper Sir Ian accused Mr. Walker of prolonging the strike and jeopardizing the coal board's eventual victory.
Sir Ian said his relationship with Mr. Walker was tense and full of distrust, and produced uncertainties that did not help during the year-long mining dispute.
He further criticized the Energy Department for getting in the way and for holding numerous and useless committee meetings.
Within the NCB itself, Sir Ian complained, he was able to trust no one but his deputy, James Cowan. He accused other board officials of "leaking like a sieve" to miners' leader Arthur Scargill during the dispute.
Although Sir Ian had few direct criticisms to make of the prime minister, and in fact welcomed her support during the strike. Mrs. Thatcher is not one to like her appointees telling tales of behind-the-scene events.
She would no doubt agree with Mr. Walker's response to the book. He said of the book and Sir Ian: "I am sorry that in the scores of meetings I have had with him throughout and since the dispute he has never raised any of these criticisms with me, or to my knowledge, with any other member of the government."