04/03/2014 - Were the miners right?

Should there be a public inquiry into the 1984-5 miners’ strike against pit closures? Some are calling for this as former mining communities across Britain are staging events marking the 30th anniversary of the epic struggle. Ex-miners, their families and supporters are marking the anniversary of the start of the strike with passion and pride.

Former National Union of Mineworkers president Ian Lavery, now Labour MP for Wansbeck, will raise the issue in a Commons motion — so far backed by 60 MPs — 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.”

The release of secret Cabinet papers revealing that the Thatcher government and the National Coal Board lied about their plans to decimate Britain’s deep coal-mining industry have increased support for an inquiry.

Was the attack on the miners was a prelude to a wider assault on the labour and trades union movement in preparation for privatization of key publicly owned industries, including coal, gas, electricity, telecoms and water? Looking back were the miners right about pit closures?

Mr Lavery said the archive papers supported 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.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, said:
"As a Nationalist I supported the strike and I still think the miners were right. Thatcher de-industrialised Britain and made us reliant on service industries. Now we have large areas with large unemployment."