Apologise for way Thatcher treated miners during strikes, Labour tells Government

Shadow Cabinet Officer minister Michael Dugher calls for action before 30th anniversary of the Battle of Orgrave

Labour is demanding a formal apology from ministers for the treatment of mining communities by Margaret Thatcher's government during the strike of 1984/85.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher is making the demand in the House of Commons following the release by the National Archives of cabinet papers from the 1980s which indicated that the Thatcher government had secret plans to close 75 pits and considered sending in troops to break the strike.

The Barnsley East MP has launched a Justice for the Coalfields campaign, calling for ministers to set out details of the government's interactions with police about the dispute, and particularly communications relating to the confrontation between miners and police at Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

He called for action before the 30th anniversary of the so-called Battle of Orgreave on July 18.

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.”