Former PM Gordon Brown joins calls for probe into police’s controversial role in crushing 1980s miners’ strike

 BROWN insists the Scottish police need to explain their role in the bitter dispute between them and picketing workers and under whose instructions they arrested so many
Police clash with protestors outside Bilston Glen during the 1984 strike
Police clash with protestors outside Bilston Glen during the 1984 strike
Daily Record

GORDON BROWN has joined the campaign for answers over the police’s controversial role in crushing the 1980s miners’ strike.

The former PM said he still has serious concerns over the bitter dispute that saw violent clashes between uniformed officers and picketing workers.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP spoke out after the Daily Record obtained a copy of a comprehensive report on the strike he prepared for then Labour leader Neil Kinnock in 1985.

It demanded a full public inquiry after exposing the treatment dished out to pit workers.

Hundreds of them were arrested on the picket lines, convicted, heavily fined and then sacked.

Brown’s intervention follows revelations that Fife Constabulary secretly demanded a crackdown on trade union striking rights in the wake of the dispute.

The strike pitted the NUM, led by Arthur Scargill and Mick McGahey, against the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher, who infamously described the miners as “the enemy within”.

Brown said: “The report shows that the miners were badly treated.

“Fortunately, because of the public campaign, most of the miners who were dismissed were eventually reinstated.

“The Scottish police need to explain their role in what happened and under whose instructions and advice they arrested so many people.

“The unsatisfactory answers so far mean the case is building for a new inquiry.”

Pit workers have long insisted there was collusion between the Thatcher government, the police and the courts in a bid to crush the strike.

But earlier this year, the SNP government rejected calls for a probe into the policing of the dispute north of the border.

The 70-page report prepared by Brown and former Home Secretary Merlyn Rees was submitted to Kinnock in May 1985 and was recently released under freedom of
information legislation.

Its recommendations included a full inquiry into police tactics and a probe into the role Tory Home Secretary Leon Brittan played in directing police during the dispute.

The report said: “The parliamentary party should put firmly to the government the view that changes in the law are not enough. It needs to look at causes as well as symptoms; to give priority to defeat the terrible blight of unemployment, to a revival of our inner cities and older industrial communities.

“These are the ‘enemies within’ that need the attention of us all.”

 

Picketing miners break a police cordon during the 1984 strike
Picketing miners break a police cordon during the 1984 strike
Daily Record

Calls for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into the strike increased after we revealed that Fife Constabulary had called for a crackdown in the wake of the strike.

A report to deputy chief constable William Wilson claimed the strike proved the public do not “respect” the police’s authority and demanded new laws to outlaw mass picketing and increase public disorder policing powers.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay is now demanding a review of the criminal convictions of 500 Scots miners convicted after confronting police on the picket lines.

He has sent out questionnaires to ex-miners asking them whether they believe any criminal charges against them were fabricated.

The results will be used by law firm Thompsons to lodge test cases with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission later this year.

The NUM also back calls for a public inquiry.

From the Daily Record July 1st 2013