Posts Tagged ‘Coal’

Rather than shedding tears for Mrs.Thatcher, Tory Ministers should apologise for their coalfields’ legacy

04/01/2014, 11:01:45 AM

by Michael Dugher

With the release of the cabinet papers on the 1984 miners’ strike, one of the more shameful chapters of our history has once again been exposed – and it’s time today’s Tory ministers apologised for the sins of their fathers.

Yesterday cabinet papers from 1984 revealed that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government did have a secret hit list of pits earmarked for closure.  Despite denials by the then government and by the National Coal Board, we now know that Tories planned to close 75 mines at the cost of some 65,000 jobs.

The papers also revealed that the previous Conservative government did seek to influence police tactics and put pressure on them to escalate the dispute.  Government ministers at the time pressured the Home Secretary, Leon Britton, to ensure chief constables adopt a “more vigorous interpretation of their duties”.

Shockingly, the cabinet papers also show that the Tories were willing to go as far as declaring a state of emergency and deploying the Army in order to gain victory over the striking miners and the unions – confirmation that it was a central tenet of government policy to regard tax-paying, law-abiding colliery workers, locked in struggle to defend their jobs and their way of life, as (to use that awful phrase of Margaret Thatcher’s) “the enemy within”.

Far from viewing people from these coalfield areas, such as in Barnsley where I represent, as ordinary, decent, hard-working people employed in a valuable and vital part of our economy, they presented the striking miners as dangerous ‘revolutionaries’ to be defeated. It is extraordinary to think that a British Prime Minister would seriously consider deployment of the British Armed Forces against ordinary British communities to further her domestic political ends, but this is the ugly truth of the Thatcher administration.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon