Labour backs Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery's call for justice for miners

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has been backed by the Labour party in a call for an inquiry into the Miners' Strike

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery

Labour has put its weight behind a call for miners’ justice as pressure mounts on the Conservatives to apologise for closing coalfields.

The Labour Party has said it wants Justice for the Coalfields after cabinet papers released earlier this month show Margaret Thatcher was secretly told two years before the strike that some 75 pits would have to close.

Despite this, the Government faced off against striking miners insisting the NUM was overreacting, and that just 20 mines would close.

Now, as Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery calls for a public inquiry, Labour has said the Government should release all information about Government-police communications around Orgreave, with the party saying there remains a need for a “proper investigation.”

The campaign could see the party commit itself to launching such an inquiry if elected to office in 2015.

Today, shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher will raise this in the House of Commons, challenging Francis Maude to make an apology.

Last night Mr Dugher said: “For those of us who lived through the strike and who saw the events and impact they had first hand, what was revealed in the cabinet papers may not come as a surprise.

“But it is no less shocking to consider that, 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.”

Mr Lavery, a former NUM boss, said: “I am delighted that the Labour Party has decided to back the campaign for a formal apology for the actions of the Government during the time of the strike. It is important that we have transparency on what happened during that period.

“Even though it was 30 years ago, everyone is fully aware about the huge impact it had on individuals and whole communities, especially in the North East. Now is the time to set the record straight.”

Also backing the justice call was Northumbria Police Commissioner Vera Baird. She said: “I represented many miners during the strike and it was evident that the Thatcher government had no respect for mining communities.

“Now is the time for the Prime Minister to put this right.

“As we move to the 30th anniversary of Orgreave I call upon David Cameron to order a full and proper investigation in to what happened and to apologise to miners and their families across the country for the action taken by Mrs Thatcher.”

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