Government challenged to apologise for conduct during miners' strike (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Government challenged to apologise for conduct during miners' strike
MINISTERS will today (Wednesday) be challenged in Parliament to apologise for the Government’s conduct during the miners’ strike – and warned the “scars of the dispute” remain.
Labour will also demand the release of all “interactions between the Government and the police”, amid fresh evidence that ministers sought to toughen up force tactics.
And it will call for a “proper investigation” into the brutal picket line clashes at the infamous ‘Battle of Orgreave’ – before the 30th anniversary, on June 18 this year.
North-East MPs have already demanded an independent inquiry, following the release of revelatory secret papers, under the 30-year rule, at the start of this month.
But now Labour will make that call official party policy, confronting Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude across the Commons chamber.
Michael Dugher, Labour’s Cabinet Office spokesman, announced the launch of a “justice for the coalfields” campaign, three decades after the miners’ strike.
And he said: “Far from being neutral, as was claimed at the time, it is clear the Government took a deliberately calculated political approach, guided by a complete hostility to the coalfield communities.
“Ministers may want to sweep these events under the carpet, but the scars of the dispute, and the subsequent closure programme, remain on the memories, communities and landscapes of all coalfield communities.
“They must now apologise and deliver transparency to begin to foster reconciliation with the coalfield communities.”
The call follows the evidence, in the official papers, that senior cabinet ministers “micromanaged” the 1984-85 strike - while claiming to be “innocent bystanders”.
They 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 Cabinet Secretary suggested that information about any official caught with cash should be leaked, so the union would be forced to surrender it to the courts.
The ‘Battle of Orgreave’, meanwhile, has been likened to the Hillsborough scandal, because of the behaviour of the same police force, South Yorkshire.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating officers for possible assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office.
TV footage and photographs showed miners being beaten with truncheons by police, some on horses, who – the miners claimed - attacked them first.
A year later, 95 miners who had been prosecuted for alleged riot and lawful assembly were all acquitted.
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