A CAMPAIGN calling on Tory ministers to “begin to put right the wrongs with coalfield communities” caused by the miners’ strike has been slapped down.
Labour has urged ministers to apologise for the Government’s actions during the industrial action of 1984-85 and reveal communications between it and the police, particularly surrounding the strike at Orgreave.
It follows the release of papers revealing Margaret Thatcher’s Government had a secret plan to close 75 pits at the cost of some 65,000 jobs; the Government sought to influence police tactics to escalate the dispute; and actively considered declaring a state of emergency and deploying the Army to defeat the miners and unions.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Dugher, launched his challenge to Cabinet Officer Francis Maude in the House of Commons yesterday.
But Mr Maude has said ministers will not apologise because it was held without a proper national ballot and told campaigners they will have to wait to see papers under the 30-year rule.
Dave Hopper, the Durham Miners’ Association’s general secretary, said: “I think it’s disgraceful after these revelations have come out about what’s really happened. We’ve had a Government, a Prime Minister, lying to 600-plus MPs about her intentions.
“We’ve seen what happened at Orgeave and that hasn’t been properly investigated and as we’ve seen since, there was gratuitous violence used by the police, and no policeman has ever been prosecuted for that.”
The campaign is backed by Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson and Easington MP Grahame Morris.
Mrs Hodgson said: “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.”
Mr Morris added: “Thirty years is too long to wait for justice, and we must finally have the truth, which I believe can only be achieved by an independent inquiry.”