JUSTICE FOR THE COALFIELDS: Gwynne writes to Minister

Battle of OrgreaveLabour has launched the ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign to urge Conservative Ministers to begin to put right the wrongs with coalfield communities.

Local MP Andrew Gwynne has written to the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to call on him to release all Government information relating to the strike.

Last 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 raised this in the House of Commons, challenging Francis Maude to make an apology and commit to these actions.

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

‘These new findings show that the Thatcher Government was far from honest about their involvement in the strike.

‘For those who lived through the strike and who saw the events and impact they had firsthand, the findings in the latest release of cabinet papers will not come as a surprise.

‘That is why I have written to Francis Maude calling on him to release all information relating to the Government’s involvement.’

Michael Dugher MP said:

‘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.’

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4 thoughts on “JUSTICE FOR THE COALFIELDS: Gwynne writes to Minister

  1. This campaign demeans the Labour Party. It seeks to gain political capital from distant history . As a citizen enduring blackouts, power and fuel cuts at the time neither the miners nor the Tory leaders were blameless. Both faction leaders had their own political agenda which was never endorsed by the electorate. The real victims were the ‘Joe Bloggs ‘ trying to get to work and bring up their families.

  2. But Labour had eleven years in office to do something about this and did next to nothing? Yet another reason why so many long-time Labour supporters, who had spent 1979-97 hoping, praying and fighting to get the Tories out of office, felt betrayed and let down by Blair and Brown. And… we still have coal-fired power stations. A Labour leader of the past famously said we are an island built on coal. Coal-fired power can be generated, with modern technology, so that it does not contribute to environmental degradation. Why on earth are we IMPORTING coal when there are still massive reserves of it under our feet? Labour should have taken a more direct route to bringing justice to the coalfields – invested in re-opening viable mines and providing employment and opportunity! There is clearly still a demand for the stuff, and as oil reserves fail, we need home-grown energy under our own control – not from a distant source that can be turned off at the whim of a Putin. And… the reason why so many of us will not let “distant history” die – so many injustices were perpetrated under Thatcher which successive governments have not even BEGUN to address! Like it or not, Mr Walker, “distant history” is still real and bitter to many of us. And we expect better of the Labour Party than we have received.

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