30 January 2014
The Conservative Party has refused to issue an apology on behalf of Margaret Thatcher’s government for its plans to send troops in to break up the miners’ strike and for lying to the public about the scale of pit shutdowns.
In the Commons yesterday (29 January 2014), Prime Minister David Cameron refused to back Labour’s Justice for the Coalfields campaign, stating that if anyone needed to apologise for the disastrous events of 1984-85, it was former National Union of Miners leader Arthur Scargill.
Labour began the campaign to persuade the Tory Party to apologise for lying to the public, and for a full inquiry to be held into the violent events of the time, after papers released this week showed Thatcher had considered ordering the army to break-up strikes, and had secret plans to close down 75 pits across the country. The public had been told only 20 would be shut.
Michael Dugher, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Recently released cabinet papers revealed the true extent of the intended destruction of coalfield communities by Mrs Thatcher’s administration and the lies that the public were told.”
“David Cameron showed he just doesn’t care … his attitude is typically ignorant and belligerent … it’s a case of the same old Tories,” he added.
Labour is demanding an inquiry into events at Orgreave, in South Yorkshire, where picketers and the police suffered violent clashes in 1984. The Party believes police came under political pressure, or colluded with the government, in order to use harsh tactics in response to the strikes.
Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister and known for his anti-union views, said he “saw at first hand the violence, the intimidation and divided communities in a dispute that took place without a proper ballot being held.
“The honourable gentleman asks for an apology – no.”
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Labour MP Sharon Hodgson criticised Ministers like Maude for “peddling the myth of miners as thugs”.
“Even if there was bad behaviour on the miners’ side, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the Government has serious questions to answer about political interference in policing and preparing to deploy the military against their own people,” she said.
Indeed, a year after strikers were seen being beaten with truncheons at the Battle of Orgreave, 95 miners who had been prosecuted for allegedly rioting at the event had been acquitted.
“We had the nasty party in 1984-85. And we now have the modern-day nasty, anti-union, anti-worker party at its very worst,” Labour MP Ian Lavery told the Morning Star.