Tagged: Justice for the Coalfields

Thatcher v Miners : tories continue to rewrite history

THE trauma of the miners’ strike would have been avoided if Arthur Scargill had pursued “partnership” with the Government, a minister claimed today (Tuesday) – to howls of disbelief.

Matt Hancock, a business minister – answering an historic Commons debate – argued the real “betrayal” was the miners’ leader refusal to ballot NUM members before the strike.

And he told MPs: “It was a difficult process and it could have been done far better through partnership, rather than through an adversarial nature.”

The minister also argued that the pit closure programme which sparked the bitter 1984-85 dispute had paved the way for economic success in the decades since.

He said:

“The transition of an economy dominated by outdated heavy industry into a modern service-based economy was necessary and is the basis of the nation’s prosperity now – and that is not much disputed these days.”

> I’d say it’s very much disputed, just not by politicians with their heads up their arses.

The comments provoked angry Labour shouts during a three-hour debate into fresh evidence about the Thatcher Government’s conduct in the 1980s

Incredibly, Labour’s motion passed, after the Coalition failed to oppose it – despite it stating the 1980s Government “misled the public about the extent of its pit closure plans and sought to influence police tactics”.

 Labour launched a ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign after the release of revelatory secret papers about the strike, under the 30-year rule, at the start of this year.

Ministers were revealed to be aware that Ian MacGregor, the National Coal Board (NCB) chief, was plotting to close 75 pits, at the cost of 65,000 jobs – not the 20 that ministers and the NCB claimed.

The papers showed that Margaret Thatcher considered deploying troops during the strike, by declaring a state of emergency.

And MI5 was used to put union officials suspected of smuggling suitcases full of money donated by the Soviet Union under surveillance.

The debate heard passionate stories about the impact of the strike – both on the people affected at the time and on the “devastated” communities left behind.

Kevan Jones (North Durham) said: “It was vindictive and communities like mine are still suffering today.”

Roberta Blackman-Woods (Durham City) said, of the Government: “They have no idea of the devastation in these communities – and they are doing it again by cutting the funds to local government.”

Pat Glass (North West Durham) said: “The scars of 1984-85 are still there and they won’t be healed until all this is publicly exposed.”

And Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) – a miner himself in the 1980s, when a police officer “spat in my face” – said Lady Thatcher and other ministers had “lied from that despatch box”.

But John Redwood, the head of Lady Thatcher’s policy unit at the time, said he advised her not to use the Army, adding: “She said ‘Of course it won’t be’ – and it wasn’t”.

Source –  Northern Echo,  28 Oct 2014

Wearside MP demands the Government apologise over the Miners’ Strike tactics

MP Sharon Hodgson has called on Ministers to apologise for the Government’s treatment of striking miners during 1984/5 dispute.

The Washington & Sunderland West MP  has joined a new campaign to seek an apology from senior politicians.

The ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign has been launched after the release of previously-confidential cabinet papers revealing that the Thatcher Government had a secret plan to close 75 pits at the cost of some 65,000 jobs, sought to influence police tactics to escalate the dispute, and actively considered deploying the Army to defeat the miners and unions.

Mrs Hodgson has joined colleagues in writing to Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude demanding a formal apology from Ministers for the actions of the Government during the time of the strike, and for the release of all information on collusion between the Government and the police at the time, particularly around the Battle of Orgreave, the pitched battle between miners and police in South Yorkshire in 1984.

Mrs Hodgson said: “The Miners’ Strikes may be a distant memory for some, but the wounds are still raw for many people around here, with communities and families torn apart.

“It was no surprise when these Cabinet papers showed that the Government had been lying about its plans for widespread closure and the use of force against striking miners, but that doesn’t let them off the hook. The very least that coalfield communities deserve is an official apology and complete transparency from the Government about the secret plans being made at the time. Any less would just be one more insult.”

> All very nice, although I cant help feeling they’ve been all respectful and waited until Thatcher died before raising the point.

But what I’d really like to see is a few Labour MPs – especially North East ones – getting equally worked up about what is happening right now. Or do we have to wait another 30 years until they get around to that ?

Source – Sunderland Echo  29 Jan 2014