Government rejects Labour’s calls for an apology over miners’ strike which affected South Yorkshire

Police and miners at Orgreave
Police and miners at Orgreave
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Ministers will not apologise for the treatment of South Yorkshire communities by the Government during the miners’ strike.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude spoke out after Labour launched a campaign for ‘justice’ for coalfield communities, to mark the 30th anniversary of the national strike.

It was launched after the release of Cabinet papers, which revealed Margaret Thatcher’s government had a secret plan to close 75 pits at a cost of 65,000 jobs during the strike.

Mr Maude said those campaigning for reconciliation and transparency will have to wait to see any more Cabinet papers from the time of the strike when they are released under the 30-year rule.

Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East, had demanded an apology and full disclosure of documents and communication between Thatcher’s government and the police during the 1984 strike, to address the widespread sense of injustice among former mining communities.

However, Mr Maude said the papers would be released in the normal way and no apology would be forthcoming.

During Cabinet Office questions in the Commons, he said: “The documents will be released in the usual way under the law passed under the last government.

“I was representing a coal mining constituency during the miners’ strike.

“I saw first hand the violence, the intimidation, the divided communities, in a dispute that took place without a proper national ballot being held.

“So you asked for an apology – no.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said Arthur Scargill, the former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, should apologise for the way he led the union.

He said: “We have a system for releasing paperwork from 10, 20, 30 years ago and we should stick to that.

“But I have to say, I think if anyone needs to make an apology for their role in the strike it should be Mr Scargill for the appalling way he led that union.”