MPs demand apology for miners’ strike

Miners Strike 1984 marchers through Wigan town centre along Standishgate
Miners Strike 1984 marchers through Wigan town centre along Standishgate

A ROW has broken out after two borough MPs asked for an official government apology for the way the Miners’ Strike was handled.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy demanded Prime Minister David Cameron apologise for the treatment of mining communities, including many in the borough, by Margaret Thatcher’s government during the 1984-85 industrial dispute.

However, cabinet minister Francis Maude and Mr Cameron both refused to condemn any of the police actions, attacking union leaders and the Labour Party for their roles in the strike.

The action is part of Labour’s Justice for the Coalfields campaign, which aims to address grievances in communities where the most violent clashes between miners and police took place after newly-released papers showed senior ministers had secret plans to close 75 pits and considered sending in the Army to end the dispute.

Ms Nandy said: “During the Miners’ Strike the Thatcher government tried to close pits, escalate the dispute and attack solidarity. It left deep scars in communities like Wigan. Many families never recovered and people have died waiting for justice.

“After 30 years, they deserve the truth and they deserve an apology. Why are they still waiting?”

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue also gave her backing to the call for an apology.

She said: “The recently-released papers confirm what is already widely accepted, that they influenced police tactics to escalate the dispute and considered the use of the Army against its own citizens.”.

However, Mr Maude said there would be no apology and information would only be released when available under a rule making public documents from 30 years ago, while Mr Cameron said the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and opposition politicians were the ones who should express remorse.

Mr Cameron said: “I have to say, I think if anyone needs to make an apology for their role in the miners’ strike it should be Arthur Scargill for the appalling way that he led that union.

“If other people want to ask about their roles, there was the role of the leader of Labour Party, who at the time never condemned the fact that they wouldn’t hold a ballot.”