Miners’ strike 30 years on: Demands for government apology over the 1984-5 strike

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Calls for government apology for the 1984-5 miners’ strike have been stepped up ahead of events to mark 30 years since the struggle.

Campaigners want answers after cabinet papers showed that the Conservative government secretly planned to close 75 pits, with the loss of 65,000 jobs, and considered calling in the army to defeat the miners.

The papers also show the government sought to influence police tactics and the punishment of miners arrested during the strike, which started in March 1984.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, who is backing the Justice for the Coalfields campaign, said: “Although it is 30 years since the start of the strike, everyone knows that there are parts of our area that have still not fully recovered from the disastrous consequences of the Conservative mine closure programme.

The truth has never been properly told about how the government conducted itself during the strike.

“We now know for a fact, following the recent disclosure of government papers, what many of us active at the time felt to be the case - that the government simply did not tell the truth.”

During the dispute NUM leader Arthur Scargill claimed the government had a secret hit list of 70 pits set to close, but the government and national coal board said just 20 would shut down.

The cabinet papers, released under the 30-year rule in January, show the plan was to close 75 mines over three years.

They also show police chief constables were put under pressure to take strong action against strikers.

Mr Trickett added: “Conservative politicians also sought to use the police and criminal justice system for their own party political objectives.

“In order to get full justice for the miners and their families, all the facts now must be made public.”