Labour will today (Wednesday) launch the ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign to urge Conservative Ministers to begin to put right the wrongs with coalfield communities. Earlier this month newly-released cabinet papers revealed that the Thatcher Government had a secret plan to close 75 pits at the cost of some 65,000 jobs; that the Government did seek to influence police tactics to escalate the dispute; and that they actively considered declaring a state of emergency and deploying the Army to defeat the miners and unions.
Labour is now urging Ministers to take the following action:
•Make a formal apology for the actions of the Government during the time of the strike •Set out all details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time •Release all information about Government-police communications around Orgreave, with a proper investigation which might go a little way to rebuild public confidence
Labour believes this must happen before the 30th Anniversary of Orgreave on June 18th this year.
On Wednesday 29th January Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Dugher will raise this in the House of Commons, challenging Francis Maude to make an apology and commit to these actions.
Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
“For those of us who lived through the strike and who saw the events and impact they had firsthand, what was revealed in the cabinet papers may not come as a surprise. But it is no less shocking to consider that, far from being neutral as was claimed at the time, it is clear that the Government took a deliberately calculated political approach guided by a complete hostility to the coalfield communities.
“That is why I am calling for justice for the coalfields.
“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 Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign welcomes this new initiative by the National Labour Party and the issue being raised in Parliament today by Michael Duger, MP Barnsley East. The launching of the campaign ” Justice for the Coalfields” which aims to obtain from the current Government the follwing
Make a formal apology for the actions of the previous Conservative Government during the time of the strike
Set out all details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time of the strike
Release all information about government-police communications specifically around Orgreave, with a proper investigation which might go a little way to rebuild public confidence, as Yvette Cooper has called for previously.
This initiative can only help and strengthen the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign’s call for a full public inquiry into the policing of the Orgreave Coking Plant, 18th June 1984 and the wrongful arrests for riot and unlawful assembly which resulted on that day. However the Labour Party will have to work very hard to make their aims a reality as no government gives formal apologies lightly or easily and especially a Tory coalition government with a vested interested in not opening up their past history of Margaret Thatcher’s government micro managing the strike and putting the police under enormous pressure over their operational duties as reveled in the recently released Cabinet Papers.
We want the same swift action about Orgreave as there has been over Plebgate.