Call for inquiry into miners' strike stepped up as 30th anniversary reached

The Northern Echo: Police and pickets involved in scuffles during the strike Police and pickets involved in scuffles during the strike

CALLS for a public inquiry into the year-long miners' strike are being stepped up as communities across the country gear up to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the start of the most bitter industrial conflict in living memory.

A series of events will be held by miners, their families, supporters and union activists in the coming weeks, while the anger and bitterness which characterised the dispute will be re-kindled.

The recent revelation in government papers released by the National Archives that Margaret Thatcher secretly considered calling out the troops at the height of the strike has heightened the belief that a full-blown inquiry should be held.

Labour MP Ian Lavery, a former president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has tabled an early day motion in Parliament, which regrets that nearly 30 years after the strike ended, there are still men who were wrongly arrested or convicted during the dispute, who have never received justice. More than 60 MPs are supporting the motion.

Mr Lavery said he would continue pressing for an inquiry into the events of 30 years ago.

"People who live in great mining communities across the UK have not forgotten the strike and they will never forget," he said.

"Passions have not waned. In 100 years' time I am confident that people will say that their great grandfather was a miner and was proud to have taken part in the strike. That is how deep this thing runs."

Mr Lavery said the archive papers revealing that ministers considered declaring a state of emergency, amid fears that union action could destroy the government, backed up his belief that MPs and the public were misled.

"The Prime Minister deliberately misled Parliament and the public by saying the NUM was scaremongering about pit closures," he said.

"They played down the impact of the strike, but it is now clear they were considering bringing in the troops."

The strike started in early March 1984 over pit closures planned by the state-owned National Coal Board and pitted Mrs Thatchers government against the NUM and its fiery president Arthur Scargill.

Mr Scargill always maintained that the government planned mass pit closures as well as attacking the union, a sentiment which was backed up by a now-released note from an official at 10 Downing Street that said the strike was a "unique opportunity to break the power of the militants in the NUM".

Mr Lavery said the NUM also had a social structure in communities, with officials helping to deal with any problems, and that had been "totally destroyed".

"Many coal communities are still suffering from the closure of pits because nothing has replaced coal, but it is also devastating to see the impact of the demise of the NUM in these areas too," he said.

Comments (7)

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11:49am Mon 3 Mar 14

ian923 says...

No enquiry is going to bring any solutions and will cost an unnecessary fortune.Why on earth do people keep resurrecting matters from donkeys years ago? The need is to concentrate on now and the future and not spend public money on things which can never have a conclusion.Saville for example. The man is still dead and yet several expensive enquiries are ongoing. What's the point?
No enquiry is going to bring any solutions and will cost an unnecessary fortune.Why on earth do people keep resurrecting matters from donkeys years ago? The need is to concentrate on now and the future and not spend public money on things which can never have a conclusion.Saville for example. The man is still dead and yet several expensive enquiries are ongoing. What's the point? ian923
  • Score: 12

12:25pm Mon 3 Mar 14

David Lacey says...

Bulls eye Ian923
Bulls eye Ian923 David Lacey
  • Score: 9

12:52pm Mon 3 Mar 14

johnny_p says...

I sincerely hope no foreign investors looking to create jobs in the North East read these ridiculous letters suggesting that all of us are backwards-looking, unprogressive dinosaurs.

The Echo doesn't publish an article regarding Nissan at Sunderland every week, but always manages to find space for something that happened thirty years ago.

Pathetic.
I sincerely hope no foreign investors looking to create jobs in the North East read these ridiculous letters suggesting that all of us are backwards-looking, unprogressive dinosaurs. The Echo doesn't publish an article regarding Nissan at Sunderland every week, but always manages to find space for something that happened thirty years ago. Pathetic. johnny_p
  • Score: 10

2:58pm Mon 3 Mar 14

durhamchap says...

30 years ago - leave it where it belongs in the history books.Or perhaps we should have more costly enquiries - how about the Black Death ,English civil war or how about the death toll in WW1 ?
30 years ago - leave it where it belongs in the history books.Or perhaps we should have more costly enquiries - how about the Black Death ,English civil war or how about the death toll in WW1 ? durhamchap
  • Score: 7

7:01am Tue 4 Mar 14

SirLance says...

Once upon a time Russian communist's backed King Arthur who was eventually was beaten by the English Democratic Queen Margaret. The country returned to prosperity! Those that stayed in mining villages and remain there know no better! Life is about perpetual change if you don't move with it you lost the point of living it! Stop dwelling in the past citizens! It's time to campaign for the M 25 motorway to be extended to Newcastle! The EU's ' economic triangle's apex reaches to about Milton Keynes and maybe just a little over ! Anywhere else in Britain your'e not going to prosper by much! get away from the pit village mentality! -- the mines were closed years ago move on ! yes, perhaps take a look at Nissan Sunderland!!!
Once upon a time Russian communist's backed King Arthur who was eventually was beaten by the English Democratic Queen Margaret. The country returned to prosperity! Those that stayed in mining villages and remain there know no better! Life is about perpetual change if you don't move with it you lost the point of living it! Stop dwelling in the past citizens! It's time to campaign for the M 25 motorway to be extended to Newcastle! The EU's ' economic triangle's apex reaches to about Milton Keynes and maybe just a little over ! Anywhere else in Britain your'e not going to prosper by much! get away from the pit village mentality! -- the mines were closed years ago move on ! yes, perhaps take a look at Nissan Sunderland!!! SirLance
  • Score: 2

8:02am Wed 5 Mar 14

Ally F says...

I wonder if Lavery were to poll his constituents what percentage would back his call for a pubic inquiry into the Miners Strike? Not many I suspect.

He is representing himself, his own political ideology and his ties to the NUM, not his constituents. Twas ever thus with these power crazed left wing dinosaurs.

Let it go Lavery and get on with the job you were elected to do and are paid for.

(Paid for I might add by those who made something of their lives, those who did not expect to walk into a job for life, those hard working taxpayers who bankroll the Westminster Village Gravy Train you do very nicely out of)
I wonder if Lavery were to poll his constituents what percentage would back his call for a pubic inquiry into the Miners Strike? Not many I suspect. He is representing himself, his own political ideology and his ties to the NUM, not his constituents. Twas ever thus with these power crazed left wing dinosaurs. Let it go Lavery and get on with the job you were elected to do and are paid for. (Paid for I might add by those who made something of their lives, those who did not expect to walk into a job for life, those hard working taxpayers who bankroll the Westminster Village Gravy Train you do very nicely out of) Ally F
  • Score: 2

8:37am Wed 5 Mar 14

tubgut says...

Get real it's history gone. The NUM at the time pursued the same strategy as the first world war and achieved mass extinction of an industry. Could and should have been handled very differently. It turned the coalfields into deserts. Modernization was the solution. Coal is still a valuable resource could extraction be automated. The other issue is the EU and crazy rules that come out of the lunatics it employs, this needs to be addressed. An object lesson in you have to be competitive or die.
Get real it's history gone. The NUM at the time pursued the same strategy as the first world war and achieved mass extinction of an industry. Could and should have been handled very differently. It turned the coalfields into deserts. Modernization was the solution. Coal is still a valuable resource could extraction be automated. The other issue is the EU and crazy rules that come out of the lunatics it employs, this needs to be addressed. An object lesson in you have to be competitive or die. tubgut
  • Score: 2

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