DEMANDS in the Commons for the Tories to apologise for the lies told about the non-existence of a pit closures programme during the miners’ strike in 1984-5 fell on deaf ears yesterday.
In a heated debate in the House of Commons, Barnsley East Labour MP Michael Dugher called on the Tories to plead guilty to the cover-up of a 75-pit closures hit-list.
And he demanded an investigation into the scandal of organised police brutality in the “Battle of Orgreave.”
He said the actions of the Thatcher government in 1984-5 were “one of the darkest chapters in our history” which were still a source of anger and bitterness in Britain’s former mining communities.
“Ministers conspired to cover up their plans for the coal industry,” he said.
He called for the release of all communications between the government and the police during the strike.
Mr Dugher welcomed South Yorkshire Police’s decision to refer itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over its conduct at Orgreave, but added: “Over a year later there is still no investigation.
“It is indefensible that there is still no investigation into what happened at Orgreave,” he said.
Blaydon Labour MP David Anderson said police violence went beyond Orgreave and into mining communities across the country.
In an impassioned speech Ian Lavery, MP for the north east England constituency of Wansbeck, who was a young striking miner during the str ike, said: “Thatcher lied from that dispatch box. Cabinet ministers lied from that dispatch box.
This was about destroying trade unionism in Britain.
“The heart was ripped out of mining communities. We have got a right to seek justice. We have are entitled to ask for an apology.”
He called for an amnesty for miners criminalised during the strike.
But the questions and demands were arrogantly ignored by Tory Energy and Climate Minister Matthew Hancock who accused Labour of “living the battles of the past.”
Only three deep coalmines remain in Britain. Two, Kellingley in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, are due to close next year.
Negotiations are planned next month over the future of the third pit, worker-owned Hatfield in Yorkshire.