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Tell us the truth about miners’ strike

Stephen Hepburn column.

Stephen Hepburn column.

Thirty years ago, the year-long miners’ strike was about to start.

It was to be an heroic struggle to save the pits, communities and precious natural resources which fuelled the industrial revolution and the prosperity of the North East.

I am proud that I supported the miners.

If you believed Mrs Thatcher and her ministers at the time, it was all nothing to do with them.

Butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.

It was simply an industrial dispute, they were merely holding the ring.

It was a lie. They rigged the game.

Recently-released secret files show that the miners were right to denounce a plan to close 75 pits at the cost of 64,000 well-paid jobs.

The papers show ministers were not neutral, but worked hand in glove with employers, sought to stiffen police response, and were minded to deploy the army.

I cannot say I am surprised, but it is essential that everyone understands how far the Tories went and to assess their current actions on this basis.

It may be a generation ago, but the need for truth remains urgent.

Labour has launched its Justice for the Coalfields campaign to secure transparency and reconciliation.

We need a formal apology for the actions of the Conservative government during the strike.

All correspondence between ministers and the police should be released.

We need a proper investigation into the Battle of Orgreave, where many miners faced serious and false charges.

They collapsed after lawsuits against the police for unlawful arrest, assault and malicious prosecution, and South Yorkshire Police paid out half a million pounds in compensation.

More importantly, the economic damage needlessly done by the pit closure programme should be overcome with investment that boosts employment in coalfield areas.

Truth and justice must go hand in hand.

 

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