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Doncaster MP calls on Conservatives to apologise over miners’ strike

Miners strike memorial and parade at the site of the  Markham Main colliery.  Heading to the service at the site of the pit shafts.   Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Miners strike memorial and parade at the site of the Markham Main colliery. Heading to the service at the site of the pit shafts. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

A Doncaster MP has renewed calls for the government to apologise for Margaret Thatcher’s handling of the miners’ strike.

Rosie Winterton described the then government’s treatment of mining communities – including those in Doncaster – during the 1984-85 industrial dispute as “appalling”.

The Doncaster Central MP’s demand is part of the Justice for the Coalfields campaign, launched earlier this year, which aims to address grievances in communities where the most violent clashes between miners and police took place after papers released in January showed ministers had secret plans to close 75 pits.

However, government ministers have so far refused to condemn any of the police actions, instead attacking union leaders for their role in the strike.

Rosie said: “During the miners’ strike the Thatcher government tried to close pits, escalate the dispute and attack solidarity.

“That appalling treatment left deep scars in communities across the country, including here in Doncaster. Many families never recovered and people have died waiting for justice.

“After 30 years, they deserve the truth and they deserve an apology – I have reiterated those calls to Francis Maude, the minister for the Cabinet Office, but he has again refused to say sorry.”

The cabinet papers also show that Thatcher was willing to go as far as declaring a state of emergency in order to gain victory over the miners and the unions.

Rosie added: “The objective was the destruction of an entire industry and the proud mining communities that sustained it.

“This resulted in mass unemployment and huge social problems that blighted those parts of the country for years to come.

“We’re still living with that legacy today. Current Conservative ministers should apologise to former miners and their families for the actions of the previous Conservative government lead by Margaret Thatcher.”

Rosie joined hundreds of former pit workers in Armthorpe in March for a moving memorial to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike.

 

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