Minister under fire for criticising violence of miners during strike

The Northern Echo: NO APOLOGY: Francis Maude NO APOLOGY: Francis Maude

A CONSERVATIVE minister is under fire for criticising the “violence” of miners during the strike, while ruling out an inquiry into police misbehaviour.

Labour MPs reacted with anger after Francis Maude refused to release documents or apologise for the Thatcher Government, which is suspected of escalating police tactics.

There is particular controversy over the ‘Battle of Orgreave’, likened to the Hillsborough scandal because of the involvement of the same police force, South Yorkshire.

But, instead, the Cabinet Office minister lashed out at the behaviour of the miners, which he remembered as a Warwickshire MP during the 1984-85 conflict.

Mr Maude said: “I was representing a coal mining constituency during the miners’ strike and saw at first hand the violence, intimidation and divided communities in a dispute that took place without a proper national ballot being held.

“The honourable gentleman asks for an apology - no.”

Both Mr Maude – and, later, David Cameron – insisted any documents could only be made public under the 30-year rule, which triggered releases earlier this month.

And the Prime Minister added: “If anyone needs to make an apology for their role in the miners’ strike, it should be Arthur Scargill for the appalling way in which he led that union.

“If we want to ask about other people’s roles, there was the role of the then leader of the Labour party, who at the time never condemned the fact that they would not hold a ballot.

“So I think there are lessons for Labour to learn, and judging by their performance today, they have not learned any of them.”

The attitude was condemned by Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who described it as “shocking”.

She said: “Most people who were around at the time saw how the police provoked picket lines and ministers provoked union leaders.

“Tory ministers are still peddling the myth of miners as thugs, rather than as men and women fighting for their future.

“Even if there was bad behaviour on the miners’ side, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the Government has serious questions to answer about political interference in policing and preparing to deploy the military against their own people.”

Labour’s call follows the evidence, in official papers, that senior cabinet ministers micromanaged the strike - while claiming to be “innocent bystanders”.

They were aware that the National Coal Board (NCB) was plotting to close 75 pits, at the cost of 65,000 jobs – not the 20 that ministers and the NCB claimed.

The papers showed that Margaret Thatcher considered deploying troops during the strike, by declaring a state of emergency.

At Orgreave, TV footage and photographs showed miners being beaten with truncheons by police, some on horses, who – the miners claimed - attacked them first.

A year later, 95 miners who had been prosecuted for alleged riot and lawful assembly were all acquitted.

Comments (10)

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6:22pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Its 30 years ago, the world has moved on, and there were mistakes on both sides. Rather than wasting more money on a dead industry - and complaints relating to individuals (a majority of whom whether politicans or miners are now dead or elderly) would it not be better to look forward and plan for the future. How many more years of wallowing can the former coal communites of the north east embrak upon before they realise that:
1. Coal is not coming back
2. If they wish to return to being 'kings of energy' they need to embrace fracking rather than criticise it.
3. That they need to start embracing the future not hazey halcyon days of a long-gone socialist utopia under Foot and Scargill that never actually existed.
Its 30 years ago, the world has moved on, and there were mistakes on both sides. Rather than wasting more money on a dead industry - and complaints relating to individuals (a majority of whom whether politicans or miners are now dead or elderly) would it not be better to look forward and plan for the future. How many more years of wallowing can the former coal communites of the north east embrak upon before they realise that: 1. Coal is not coming back 2. If they wish to return to being 'kings of energy' they need to embrace fracking rather than criticise it. 3. That they need to start embracing the future not hazey halcyon days of a long-gone socialist utopia under Foot and Scargill that never actually existed. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 1

6:33pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Jackaranda says...

Voice-of-reality wrote:
Its 30 years ago, the world has moved on, and there were mistakes on both sides. Rather than wasting more money on a dead industry - and complaints relating to individuals (a majority of whom whether politicans or miners are now dead or elderly) would it not be better to look forward and plan for the future. How many more years of wallowing can the former coal communites of the north east embrak upon before they realise that:
1. Coal is not coming back
2. If they wish to return to being 'kings of energy' they need to embrace fracking rather than criticise it.
3. That they need to start embracing the future not hazey halcyon days of a long-gone socialist utopia under Foot and Scargill that never actually existed.
Exactly!!
[quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: Its 30 years ago, the world has moved on, and there were mistakes on both sides. Rather than wasting more money on a dead industry - and complaints relating to individuals (a majority of whom whether politicans or miners are now dead or elderly) would it not be better to look forward and plan for the future. How many more years of wallowing can the former coal communites of the north east embrak upon before they realise that: 1. Coal is not coming back 2. If they wish to return to being 'kings of energy' they need to embrace fracking rather than criticise it. 3. That they need to start embracing the future not hazey halcyon days of a long-gone socialist utopia under Foot and Scargill that never actually existed.[/p][/quote]Exactly!! Jackaranda
  • Score: 1

6:52pm Wed 29 Jan 14

David Lacey says...

Two comments I fully support.
Two comments I fully support. David Lacey
  • Score: -2

7:46pm Wed 29 Jan 14

darloboss says...

Tory ministers are still peddling the myth of miners as thugs, rather than as men and women fighting for their future.
it is 30 years ago but a full frank and sincere apology is the least the conservatives can do
the next thing they can do is to treat the region the same as the rest of the uk and give the north east the same chances instead of favouring the south
Tory ministers are still peddling the myth of miners as thugs, rather than as men and women fighting for their future. it is 30 years ago but a full frank and sincere apology is the least the conservatives can do the next thing they can do is to treat the region the same as the rest of the uk and give the north east the same chances instead of favouring the south darloboss
  • Score: 1

7:49pm Wed 29 Jan 14

darloboss says...

then Francis Maude can swivel on it
then Francis Maude can swivel on it darloboss
  • Score: 2

7:49pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Voice-of-reality says...

They were men and women fighting for their futures and thugs - the two are not mutually exclusive.
As for apologies - I would like one for the lights going out throughout the winter of 1979 - but the miners and others involved are probably dead
The north east is being given GREATER opportunities than the south east - it is far easier to frack where there are fewer people and the area has a history of exploting its natural resources and growing rich from them - now, will the region embrace opportunity or just continue to whinge?
They were men and women fighting for their futures and thugs - the two are not mutually exclusive. As for apologies - I would like one for the lights going out throughout the winter of 1979 - but the miners and others involved are probably dead The north east is being given GREATER opportunities than the south east - it is far easier to frack where there are fewer people and the area has a history of exploting its natural resources and growing rich from them - now, will the region embrace opportunity or just continue to whinge? Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 1

7:49pm Wed 29 Jan 14

johnny_p says...

In Monday's Echo we hear how Benjamin Disraeli's Congress of Berlin of 1878, caused an uproar in the congress by making his opening address in English, rather than in French...........
In Monday's Echo we hear how Benjamin Disraeli's Congress of Berlin of 1878, caused an uproar in the congress by making his opening address in English, rather than in French........... johnny_p
  • Score: -1

10:10am Thu 30 Jan 14

The Grim North says...

Sharon Hodgson “Even if there was bad behaviour on the miners’ side, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the Government has serious questions to answer about political interference in policing and preparing to deploy the military against their own people.”

Sharon, you make it sound like the Tories were planning to use the army to machine gun the picket lines. I think in reality the army would have been deployed to deliver coal and keep the lights on.

Faults on both sides and I think the police were very heavy handed but if anyone deserves an appology its the majority of the UK population from the Marxists ruling the trade unions in the 70s who tried, on numerous occasions, to bring down democratically elected governments. Now that is political interference.

For gods sake get over it and move on.
Sharon Hodgson “Even if there was bad behaviour on the miners’ side, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the Government has serious questions to answer about political interference in policing and preparing to deploy the military against their own people.” Sharon, you make it sound like the Tories were planning to use the army to machine gun the picket lines. I think in reality the army would have been deployed to deliver coal and keep the lights on. Faults on both sides and I think the police were very heavy handed but if anyone deserves an appology its the majority of the UK population from the Marxists ruling the trade unions in the 70s who tried, on numerous occasions, to bring down democratically elected governments. Now that is political interference. For gods sake get over it and move on. The Grim North
  • Score: 1

10:11am Thu 30 Jan 14

The Grim North says...

darloboss wrote:
Tory ministers are still peddling the myth of miners as thugs, rather than as men and women fighting for their future. it is 30 years ago but a full frank and sincere apology is the least the conservatives can do the next thing they can do is to treat the region the same as the rest of the uk and give the north east the same chances instead of favouring the south
Just a response to your last sentence - You mean like Labour did when they were in office?
[quote][p][bold]darloboss[/bold] wrote: Tory ministers are still peddling the myth of miners as thugs, rather than as men and women fighting for their future. it is 30 years ago but a full frank and sincere apology is the least the conservatives can do the next thing they can do is to treat the region the same as the rest of the uk and give the north east the same chances instead of favouring the south[/p][/quote]Just a response to your last sentence - You mean like Labour did when they were in office? The Grim North
  • Score: 3

1:50pm Thu 30 Jan 14

David Lacey says...

The sheer effrontery of left wingers never ceases to amaze me. Violence during the miners strike? For God's sake, who KILLED David Wilkie - a decent man driving his taxi and providing for his family? Who was imprisoned for his MURDER - Dean Hancock and Russell Shankland of the NUM.
.
There are some very sick minded people in this country. They are called Labour supporters.
.
The sheer effrontery of left wingers never ceases to amaze me. Violence during the miners strike? For God's sake, who KILLED David Wilkie - a decent man driving his taxi and providing for his family? Who was imprisoned for his MURDER - Dean Hancock and Russell Shankland of the NUM. . There are some very sick minded people in this country. They are called Labour supporters. . David Lacey
  • Score: 4

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